At the Table with Hungry Ghosts: Intimate Borderwork in Mexico City

Jean Duruz

Abstract


This article focuses on the project of sustaining cultural diversity within global cities’ intimate spaces. Specifically, it sketches the culinary histories of an Anglo-Australian woman (who, in 1968, settled permanently in Mexico) and her male partner (who grew up in Mexico; his mother Mexican, his father Cantonese). Drawing on the tools of ‘borderwork’ (Hodge and O’Carroll), the argument positions culturally diverse landscapes of ‘Sydney’, ‘China’ and ‘Mexico City’ as distinct yet overlapping geographies. Meanwhile, analysis of curious moments in the couple’s intersecting histories contributes much fluidity to this cartography. In the process, a company of hungry ghosts appears at the dinner table – ghosts of diversity, diaspora and cosmopolitanism; nostalgia and memory; gender and ethnicity; home and belonging. The article concludes that even when borderwork is conducted amiably behind closed doors, it relies on contradictions for cultural sustenance. At the same time, its tensions resonate with possibilities for creative practice.

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