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Hope College

Publication Date

Fall 2021

Program Name

Chile: Cultural Identity, Social Justice, and Community Development


The purpose of this project is to explore the identities of the Venezuelan population in Quito, Ecuador. The country itself has received more than a million people from Venezuela, some who have continued their journey and around 500,000 who have stayed in Ecuador. Most migrants left to the unstable political situation in Venezuela which reached its breaking point around 2015, the year in which this population began to enter Ecuador en masse. The central question of this study is: "What is the self-constructed identity of Venezuelan migrants and refugees in the city of Quito, Ecuador and how has their migratory experience and positionality in the culture of arrival affected this identity?". This question represents a missing element in the data of Venezuelan migrants in Ecuador. Personal identity is how individuals see themselves and how they are seen. It is also the characteristic that prompted them to leave. The focus of this project has been a qualitative one using structured interviews with questions prepared beforehand, allowing to identify thematic trends in the perceptions that people have of their own identities, experiences, and difficulties through the migration process. Participants were sampled using a non-probabilistic method. Convenience sampling was used to find candidates and participants genuinely willing to give their personal opinions and feel comfortable discussing their experience. A total of 9 participants participated, all Venezuelan migrants who were willing to give very interesting and diverse answers. These participants were sampled with the help of groups working in the field of migration and resettlement. Representatives from the Red Cross, UNHCR, and ADRA helped me identify volunteer participants without worrying about problems of coercion or pressure. The information from the interviews was recorded through in-depth notes during and after each interview, in addition to the interview being recorded on audio. The results offered interesting and diverse responses to the questions. These insights varied depending on their experience through the migratory process and their experience in Ecuador. While some individuals walked to Ecuador, others flew. Some have faced an immense amount of discrimination, while others none. These are some examples of the formative processes that affected their identities after their departure from Venezuela. A few individual identities were directly tied to their families and community structure where they saw themselves as part of a larger collective. But many others saw little engagement with other Venezuelans, and actually saw adaptation and integration as their core identities. One conclusive piece of all their identities was that they have changed in some way. Through the migratory process all these individuals have had societal, cultural, institutional, and personal obstacles that greatly affect their identity whether they realized it or not. However, the shifting nature of these diverse identities is what is explored in this paper, both through a theoretical framework and a thematic analysis of interviews.


Civic and Community Engagement | Emergency and Disaster Management | Latin American Languages and Societies | Latin American Studies | Migration Studies | Multicultural Psychology | Politics and Social Change | Social and Cultural Anthropology


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