Accepted Paper:

Pishtacos: fat-stealing murderers and structural Inequalities among rural and low income migrants in Peru  
Ernesto Vasquez del Aguila (Georgetown University)

Paper long abstract:

This paper analyzes social images and narratives about pishtacos (fat-stealing murderers) among rural and low income migrants Peru. Through the analysis of archival data from colonial times to current media news and migrants' discourses, this paper shows the use of "mythical" everyday narratives among marginalized people as a strategy for social cohesion, solidarity and resistance. It discusses the relationship between "magic" narratives and indigenous suffering; the cultural creation of murderers and victims; and the meanings attached to the indigenous body and its marginalisation in the Andean region. This paper shows how myths and rumors have the power of everyday social interactions, and despite their lack of "veracity", they offer invaluable sources to understand the world the way the storytellers do. Myths such as the pishtaco are alternative ways of oppressed people exercising resistance in the face of symbolic and structural exclusion.

Panel W081
Crisis, pain and wellbeing: the imagining and bearing of refugee/migrants social, moral and existential crisis