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Nostalgic Inca Heritage, Power and Oppression Among Street Vendors in Cuenca, Ecuador



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Denisse Vasquez-Guevara is an assistant professor at the University of Cuenca, where her research and teaching includes work in strategic communication, public relations, corporate social responsibility, and communication consulting. As an independent communication consultant for over a decade, Vasquez-Guevara worked with organizations in Ecuador to promote sustainable, local economic development practices. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Latin American Studies at the University of New Mexico, with concentrations in Communications and Community and Regional Planning.

Cuenca, Ecuador is uniquely demarcated culturally, sociologically, and ideologically by the combined influence of Inca-Cañari, Western, and Latin American forces. Consequently, its economy and its people's practices have become nuanced as they respond to a complicated marketplace. In this presentation, Denisse Vasquez-Guevara will discuss the experiences of immigrant street vendors in this Andean city, examining how small businesses owners and entrepreneurs have adapted their ancestral knowledge to sustain and grow their businesses and preserve their family's way of life. The presentation draws upon qualitative case study research involving participant observation and mapping. The study suggests that street vendor practices are informed by historical and cultural relationships of power and oppression. In short, contemporary urban planning policies have continued to reinforce the status quo initially formed through colonization, leading street vendors to face ongoing discriminatory urban practices that marginalize and segregate based on the vendors' class, gender, and race.


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Nostalgic Inca Heritage, Power and Oppression Among Street Vendors in Cuenca, Ecuador