We are proud to relaunch La Ceiba, a digital publication that presents a selection of the best works produced by undergraduate students, as part of the Department of Central American Studies at California State University, Northridge. It is our delight to present to you a new and innovative digital platform with a revamped social media presence.
As we reflect on this semester, we are thankful to work with and learn from our Creative Director, Susana Marcelo and our Director, Axel Montepeque. We are also proud of the collaborations between our editorial team and student contributors during the creation and editing process of this issue.
In La Ceiba’s spring 2017 issue, you can find innovative and original works that explore transnational and creative topics on Central America. It is our hope that this publication serves as a medium to disseminate the knowledge taught in our department while promoting academic excellence and future research in the field.
On behalf of the editorial team at La Ceiba, we thank you for your support.
La Ceiba Editorial Team
Suzanne Said is a returning student who is majoring in Sociology. She has long been participating in and creating fundraising events within her community. She intends to create a safe space for battered women to facilitate resources and support. Her paper was inspired by her experiences and struggles as a bicultural Salvadoran female raised in the U.S.
Experts state that traditional Central American culture sharply defines gender roles, placing importance on family and extended kin. Women are expected to be selfless and nurturing. Meanwhile, men should be dominant, controlling, and often express superiority. Conversely, Americanized culture promotes independence and gender equality. As a result, many first and second generation immigrants, who grow up in the United States, struggle with conflicting ideologies. Young men and women are often torn between two worlds that are heavily and sometimes equally ingrained within them. This article will analyze how gender differences in the traditional Central American and Americanized cultures affect these bicultural youth.
First of all I wanted to say that my main genre of writing usually consists of fantasy that touches upon a lot of social issues but through the support and guidance of my friend, and past CAS major, Hector Fuentes, who really believed I could do this, I took a deep breath, mellowed down and took a step into working on something with a more realistic tone and setting. In my work I touch upon the very real topic of migration along with the burden the decision-making process has on an individual who makes the choice to leave their home, people, and world they’ve known their entire life. Through this piece I focus on the main character's perspective and show how her interactions with the people around her--and the environment she lives in--have shaped her decision to take a chance at finding a better life.
Social standards are a reality for people in many different parts of the world. Society has created ideas of beauty and possibilities by manipulating our understanding of a physical body. My paper uses the theory of posthumanism to break down the social norms addressed in Los Años Marchitos. Though the story takes place in and is written by a Guatemalan author, Rafael Menjivar Ochoa writes about the issues that still lie beneath today’s social norms worldwide. Posthumanism, as discussed within this context is the pondering of a life outside of a typical human one. This explores the idea of becoming other through mentally removing one's self from constrictions of our physical appearances. I will analyze Los Años Marchitos and argue that society has conditioned us to focus on outward appearances; therefore, contesting the fact that life within a physical body holds us back from imagining alternate possibilities.
The biggest challenge Central Americans living in the United States face is finding better working and living conditions than the ones in their home country. However, the lack of education and experience often leads them to the riskiest jobs, such as construction, cleaning windows of tall buildings, and being factory workers. In their journey to conquering a better lifestyle, Central American immigrants risk their lives working dangerous and low-paying jobs. Not only do Central Americans working in the U.S. get paid less than the average resident but they also work jobs that often lead to death. The informality of these jobs is what leads Central Americans to mental and physical health issues. This paper aims to show the mistreatment of Central American immigrant workers and how hard they work to accomplish a dream with an endless path.
El Salvador’s Civil War (1980s and 1990s) was gruesome between opposing guerilla and Salvadoran military forces. Through an analysis of the literature of the Salvadoran Civil War, there was an evident discrepancy in content, which reflected more information about men’s involvement within the revolutionary movement as opposed to women. This paper examines the hidden faces of women during the revolutionary movement. This was achieved by viewing the roles of women in the revolutionary movement during the civil war, especially the roles that highlighted the soft-side of women, which were highly utilized for the advancement of the movement. In my scholarship, there was an evident portrayal of women’ soft side to bind with the revolutionary movement. The revolutionary movement portrayed soft images of women for several purposes, which included gaining national and international support. However, this soft-image of women generated gender inequality within the movement and allowed for the victimization of women by the Salvadoran military.
The Salvadoran Civil War caused psychological traumas, economic instability and numerous social issues within the country. This paper will discuss the war’s impact and how civilians are still suffering in its aftermath. I will show how the war affected Salvadoran families by including an interview with Porfirio Castillo, a former Salvadoran soldier. His testimony adds a vivid human perspective of the war and its consequences .
“Behind every image, a message is found. To understand it, you must observe every detail.”
This is just the beginning to put in my creativity to work. During the way, nice comments have come and encourage me to expand my knowledge and express it as art. My key is simplicity. Using simple objects makes my artwork stand up and be consider brilliant. My goal is to express how identity forms a person and how been transnational might affect it. My inspiration came from my own experiences and listening to others going through the same situation. I tend to portray those topics with simple symbols that show my message about Central American identity and transnationalism.
It is difficult to condense the immense beauty of Central America not to mention its people and its lands that are endless inspiration for my artwork. However, despite all of this, deep within the Central American culture lies a deeper, meaningful, and sometimes tragic history. Much of which has been left unsaid and unheard of. Nonetheless, I enjoy creating art that positively depicts the hard working men and women throughout Central America. I would like to think that my work may have many different interpretations as I am open to all kinds of perspectives surrounding my art. I also love to use color to portray Central America as a land of various cultures and colorful people. At times, it is difficult to put together a piece that you are 100% satisfied with. However, in the end the significance behind my work is also my motivation to keep going. It is also a constant reminder of my goal to make my work known to others and spread awareness of the many issues that Central America still faces today.
Nationalism and Identity in Futból: Deconstructing Rivalry Between Central American and Mexican Immigrant Communities
Martin Alejandro Pineda is a graduating communication studies major. His work consists of the ways in which people identify with soccer and how rivalries form through it. His paper came to life by the passion he has for the sport and his Honduran culture. Post-graduation, Martin would like to dedicate his time in empowering Latinos and investing his time for a greater good.
Soccer is one of the most influential sports played and watched around the globe. Many people use this as a distraction tool, and the sport has a powerful influence that ignites rivalry and stirs a sense of nationalism between different people. The following essay focuses specifically on Central American and Mexican migrant communities' relations within the diasporas where scarce resources lead to tensions between these groups. Furthermore, competition for scarce resources, media representation, and the symbolic annihilation of one's culture is what I conclude to be the primary fuels of this rivalry that is often released through the sport of soccer.
Nicaraguan migrant reproduction in costa rica: examining the bio-political, economic, and gendered factors leading towards cultural citizenship and accessibility to health care
The Costa Rican government extended its universal health care to non-citizens during the 1990s to increase tourist revenue and display the country’s development in the world of medicine. This paper reviews the relationship between Nicaraguan migrant workers and Costa Rican citizens constrained over decades of political and economic dispute. Contested borders between the neighboring countries and the continuous migrant profiling contributes to the strong negative perceptions of migrant workers. The racism, sexism and maltreatment towards migrant workers, particularly the women migrant workers is evident in the healthcare industry. One of the major issues migrant women in Costa Rica face is the issue of reproductive control. Migrant women are involuntarily pushed towards contraception as an economic“relief”; thus, constructing a discussion of gendered politics of the body and immigration.
Jazmin Hernandez is a junior majoring in TV Production. This paper was inspired by her experience when she travels, she finds that when traveling she becomes a foreigner who doesn't know the area compared to the people who live there. She focuses on the ideas of identity and metaphysical borders that are created.
Immigrants that come from Central America don't tend to categorize themselves under the term "Hispanic” or “Latino." The majority identify with their country of origin, village, and community. This paper draws on the racialized assumptions Central Americans have experienced due to their Spanish-speaking ability or physical characteristics rather than their national identity. Additional research should be conducted on new “inner-city” destinations and comparative analysis on how they are racialized in the South compared to the West, such as in California. Central Americans do not like being categorized into the homogenous category, but display an acceptance to the term when they are in the United States. Even though Central Americans are categorized under “Hispanic/Latino,” they understand it is the way people in the U.S. views them, but it is not the way they view themselves. It is evident that an argument between self-identification and identity is seen throughout the paper. Central Americans have their own self-identification, but when they migrate to the United States their identity isn’t thought as valid. The way these individuals perceive themselves is different from how others view them because of their physical traits. Even if they decide to correct other people on their national identity, it does not guarantee them any better chances of acceptance.
Kelvin Villalta is Central American and is an editor at La Ceiba: The Undergraduate Journal of Central American Studies. Kelvin is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in English creative writing and Central American studies. He lives in Boyle Heights, California, and he enjoys singing and writing poetry, short stories, and lyrics. His favorite bands are Mountain, Pink Floyd, Alux Nahual, Tool, Toxik, and Jason Becker. He also draws inspiration from Edgar Allen Poe, Aldus Huxley, and Miguel Angel Asturias.
It is because of my Central American roots, I want to discover my culture, past, and present. The Central American Studies Department opened my eyes. All that I knew about Central America, specifically, Guatemala and El Salvador was but a broad view. The experience of learning that European countries and the U.S attacked, exploited, and toyed with Central America was an awakening. Of course the injustices continue. The perverse and brutal nature of the Spanish and the United States towards my ancestors and culture influenced me to educate, preserve, protect, and give Central America and its peoples a voice. This I feel is my duty as a Central American. With the resources I have and the knowledge I gain, I want to let the anger out, say the truth, and be passionate. I did this through poetry, Pájaros Libres.
Coff(gr)ee(d) is another poem influenced by the knowledge I’ve learned. We take coffee for granted in the morning or night, when drowsy, for the taste, or simply as a drink. Coffee is enjoyed in the U.S because of the exploitative labor and horrid conditions the farmers or the indigenous of El Salvador are placed in. El Salvador’s coffee history is more about blood than it is about the economy and it still impacts Salvadoran children.
Christine Khrlobian is pursuing her bachelor's degree with a major in liberal studies and minor in history. Her scholarship focuses on social justice, human rights concerns, and group identity in Latin America and the U.S. She is continuing her education in the master's program at the University of California Santa Barbara in Latin American Studies, and plans on writing a book which documents the collective memory and experiences of the Middle Eastern and Armenian Diaspora in Colombia, Argentina, and Brazil.
This purpose of this research paper is to identify the causes that led to educational inequity amongst Mayan girls in rural areas of Guatemala. Over two million children in present-day Guatemala are not attending school, the majority of whom are young girls. The continual marginalization of their cultures, both physically and culturally, has devastated a mass of its citizens from receiving the necessary tools to not only live well but achieve greater success than their previous generations. By examining the historical, cultural, political, and socio-economic experiences of Mayan indigenous groups from pre-Columbian societies to present-day, it becomes clearer that the staggering number of girls without secondary education has been a systemic projection of disassociation by the state. This research hopes to piece together the complexities of girls' educational inequity, and furthermore bring better understanding to not only traditional perspectives of the state, but the voices of the very people it has tried to suppress.
"Identity Transformation and the Power of Imagination: Becoming Other" was examined using the unknown main character and female character named Guadalupe Frejas of the novel Los Años Marchitos using theories that explored different ways humans can imagine becoming others. One way to accomplish this idea of becoming other can be through nomadic thinking process, which is a way to resist the striated thinking that only allows people to think in ways convenient to society, as Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari discuss in their literary works. Another way is in the concept of the posthuman, such as the one discussed in Rosi Braiddotti, and Nayar, among others. Others ideas of becoming other such as through subjection, our imagination, and transportation are also reviewed within the context of the novel using journal articles to explain them. The main unknown character of the novel is used to explore all these theoretical works based on his experiences as the novel progresses.
The Magical World of Healers and Witches: A Study on Indigenous Mayan Women's Spiritual Rituals, Practices, and Beliefs from Mesoamerica to Today
This paper is a research-based study on the history of Mesoamerican Mayan women healers in the Guatemalan region before colonization till today. It presents facts about these Mesoamerican women healers' ancient traditions. These women hold an important part on their ancient communities' well being yet they were demonized by the Spaniard conquistadores. This ultimately changed how curanderas are seen today, including stigmatizing their craft. This paper will also examine why it is so important to help these curanderas maintain their traditional medicine knowledge as they are the primary care takers of any type of medicine in most of the rural areas of Guatemala. It is important to understand not only how these women healers operate, but also understand their traditions and primary roles in the ecosystem of their culture.