A Culinary Quest: Peruvian Women Entrepreneurs in Southern California Negotiating Gender, Home, and Belonging
A complex context of reception shapes culinary business ownership among Peruvian immigrants in Southern California, where xenophobic portrayals of Latinxs exist alongside positive discourses on immigration. Simultaneously, Peruvians encounter a favorable opportunity structure for culinary entrepreneurs, as the recent gastronomic boom in Peru has placed Peruvian cuisine on the top of culinary hierarchies, and Peruvian food has garnered high status internationally. This is the first study to document the development of a growing Peruvian gastronomic scene in Southern California. With a focus on Peruvian immigrant women who have established culinary businesses in the area, it argues that women play an important role in shaping the Peruvian culinary scene, as they establish a variety of food ventures in the formal as well as in the informal economic sector. By elucidating how the women negotiate gender, home, and belonging through culinary entrepreneurship, I extend scholarship on so-called ethnic entrepreneurship and shift the center of attention from economic incorporation and entrepreneurs as mainly economic actors to a focus on spatial practices, non-economic business outcomes, and broader processes of immigrant settlement.
To understand these complex dynamics of immigrant business ventures, I employ qualitative methods, including life-history interviews with Peruvian women entrepreneurs as well as ten months of ethnographic fieldwork comprising the women’s businesses and the broader Peruvian immigrant communities in the area. By drawing on novel insight on home as a lens to understand immigrant settlement, and bringing this into conversation with the ethnic entrepreneurship literature, the study offers a new and more comprehensive framework—the nested approach to immigrant and ethnic entrepreneurship. Building on previous theorization that emphasizes how individual-, group-, and macro-level factors facilitate and constrain entrepreneurship, and on recent efforts to employ an intersectional lens to the field, I add important socio-spatial dimensions with an emphasis on how immigrants’ entrepreneurial practices are nested within larger life projects and the search for home and belonging. Hence, this study broadens our understanding of the entrepreneur’s social embeddedness, and by lifting the gaze beyond the economy and the market, I find important intersections between the private/family and the public/work sphere.
Moving beyond comparative male/female frameworks that often emphasize women entrepreneurs’ marginalized position relative to men, I find that under certain circumstances women also benefit from their gendered location and bargain with patriarchy as they draw on culinary skills to occupy roles as head of independent and family businesses. By paying attention to life course and to spatial practices, I further demonstrate that motherhood informs entrepreneurial practices. Mothering responsibilities shape how the women navigate informality/formality and how they transgress socially constructed boundaries between the private and the public sphere and contest deeply ingrained gendered inequalities in a capitalist economic system constructed around a male template.
The nested approach emphasizes immigrant home-making and place-making. Through their businesses, Peruvian immigrant culinary entrepreneurs contribute to shaping local environments. Control over a space in culinary markets allows them to reproduce the “homeland” and create home-like places in a migrant context. As Peruvians in an area shaped by large-scale Mexican immigration and by xenophobic stereotypes of Latinx immigrants, they draw on the status of Peruvian food to negotiate inclusion through distinction and claim the right to membership of the urban community. The recognition and character of such distinction, however, is negotiated in the encounter with the established population, but also with other immigrant groups, as well as with other Peruvians. Hence, culinary entrepreneurship arises as a powerful tool that immigrants draw on to make sense of who they are in a migrant context.
Teaching at the Department for foreign languages, The University of Bergen:
SPLA100: Introduction to Spanish and Latin American Studies
SPLA109: Latin American History
Teaching at the Department of Health Promotion and Development, The University of Bergen:
GLODE305: Gender Analysis in Global Development - Core Perspectives and Issues
GLODE307: Development Practice
"Immigrant and Ethnic Entrepreneurship" in American Studies 101: Race and Class in Los Angeles. Department of American Studies and Ethnicity. University of Southern California. April 10, 2018.
"Intersectionality: Race, Ethnicity, and Inequality" in SABV260: Socio-cultural diversity and social inequalities in social work. Department of Welfare and Participation, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. April 22, 2022.
"A Home in the Public: Peruvian Women Culinary Entrepreneurs in Southern California".
- Paper presented at session "Latinxs Sharing Spaces, Sharing Stories 1" at LASA2022 Congress: Polarización socioambiental y rivalidad entre grandes potencias; Online. May 6.
"Navigating Media Discourses and Digital Practices: Peruvian Immigrant Women's Culinary Entrepreneurship in Southern California".
- Paper presented at session "Migrant Digital Food Practices" at Migrant Belongings: Digital Practices and the Everyday; Online. April 23.
"Home-making in the Public: Peruvian Immigrant Women's Culinary Entrepreneurship in Southern California".
- Paper presented at session "Exploring Nordic Migrant Entrepreneurship: Intersectional Understandings of Place and Context" at the 20th Nordic Migration Research Conference and 17th ETMU Conference; Online. January 12.
"Home-making in the Public; Peruvian Immigrant Women's Culinary Entrepreneurship in Southern California".
- Paper presented at session "The Liminal State of Home" at the Hjem 2020 Conference; University of Bergen, Norway. September 24-25.
"A Culinary Quest: Peruvian Women Entrepreneurs in Southern California Negotiating Home and Belonging".
- Paper presented at session "Home and the Senses", at the "HOMinG symposium - HOMinG; Displacement, suspension, projections and achievements in making home on the move", June 3-4.
- Paper presented as session "Gendered Migration and Displacement", at the "LASA22019 - Nuestra América: Justice & Inclusion" conference: May 24-26.
"A Culinary Quest: Peruvian Women Entrepreneurs Negotiating Home and Belonging". Paper presented at session "Gender, inequality, spatial mobility and social change", at the "NOLAN2018: Epochal shifts in current Latin America?. October 25-26.
"A Culinary Quest: Peruvian Women in Southern California Negotiating Gender and Home."
- Paper presented at workshop "Everyday strategies of citizenship and belonging", at the 19th Nordic Migration Research Conference 2018: New (Im)mobilities: Migration and Race in the Era of Authoritarianism. August 15-17.
- Paper presented at Formal Paper session "Immigration and Women", at the Pacific Sociological Association Annual Conference; March 28-31.
Corrales-Øverlid, Ann Cathrin, 2021. "A Culinary Quest: Peruvian Women Entrepreneurs in Southern California Negotiating Gender, Home, and Belonging." Doctoral degree Monograph, Department of Foreign Languages, The University of Bergen. https://bora.uib.no/bora-xmlui/handle/11250/2754557.
Corrales-Øverlid, Ann Cathrin. 2009. "El impacto económico y social del microcrédito: Un estudio de caso de las prestatarias de la ONG MIDE ´la Ch´uspa´en Santa Cruz de Sallac, Peru." Master's degree Thesis, Department of Foreign Languages, The University of Bergen. https://bora.uib.no/bora-xmlui/handle/1956/3829.
In the media:
Corrales-Øverlid, Ann Cathrin. "Alternativ Feminisme". In Morgenbladet. Oktober 17, 2017. Online access.
Corrales-Øverlid, Ann Cathrin. "Lørdags(u)hygge: Når døden i Middelhavet skyller inn i stuen". In Dagsavisen. January 24, 2019. Online access.
Ph.D.project: A Culinary Quest: Peruvian Women Entrepreneurs in Southern California Negotiating Gender, Home, and Belonging