The Smell of Memories. A Mexican Migrant’s Search for Emotional Sustainability through Mexican Films.

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Gabriela Coronado


For more than 10 years living as a Mexican migrant, between two countries (Mexico and Australia), two cities (Mexico City and Sydney), and two social worlds (Mexican and multicultural Australian ‘families-friends’), I have been immersed in a systematic process of self observation and self reflection on my life in my country of destination. During this time I have explored my memories of place and their relationship with my emotional experiences, looking for strategies to continue to be connected with my country of origin and my people. In this process I discovered films were especially significant in sustaining me emotionally. I benefited from the memory associations triggered by representations of Mexico in films produced by Mexicans or by filmmakers from other nationalities. By reflecting on my responses to those films, in this paper I explore how representations of their country of origin can impact on migrants’ emotional life. Using autoethnography, examining my own subjectivity as a way to arrive at a deeper grasp of these processes, I analyse the roles played by different senses in the process of recollection and in the emotional effects produced, which come to embody the experience. My particular focus in this article is the sense of smell triggered by complex interactions within the sensorium while watching films, producing associations and feelings through which I re-live my memories and maintain my emotional sustainability.

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General Articles (Peer Reviewed)
Author Biography

Gabriela Coronado, University of Western Sydney

Dr. Gabriela Coronado is a Mexican anthropologist with a PhD on Social Ecology from the University of Western Sydney. In Mexico (CIESAS) she researched for 28 years on different aspects of Mexican culture, language and identity, focusing on issues of intercultural communication and politics between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Her current research interests focus on intercultural communication and the politics of culture and ideology in organisation and the complexities emerging on the interface between business and society. Gabriela is currently Senior Lecturer in the School of Management, Organisational Studies, at the University of Western Sydney and member of the Centre for Cultural Research.