2010 Photographic Residency
With the trained eye of a photojournalist, Roberto Caceres explores the Chinese community established in Peru since the first wave of immigration (1849). The former Chinese coolies gradually took up residence in Lima, Huaral and Chancay where they opened small shops or restaurants known as chifas. VFrom the verb ‘to eat’ (chi fan in Chinese), the word chifanow refers to Chinese-Peruvian restaurants.
“I admit that it is mainly through chifa cuisine that I have been in contact with Chinese traditions in Peru. Despite the profound influence of Chinese culture in Peru, I was therefore relatively ignorant when I started out on this project of how the Chinese community had become a part of Peruvian society. During this photo documentary exploration, I began to consider the differences that exist between the tusán, that is to say Chinese Peruvians, and recently arrived Chinese immigrants. While tusán are generally well-off or middle-class citizens, recent immigrants live in small, cramped areas and survive from one week to the next. This latest generation of immigrants is also a much more closed community than that of the tusán.
I had great difficulty explaining my project, and often had to introduce myself through a letter written in Chinese. Twice I was chased away from places where my presence was considered suspicious or where the people did not understand what I was trying to achieve with my work. The Chinese influence in Peru can be seen in numerous sectors of Peruvian society. For example, there are many martial arts groups in the Andean and Amazonian areas, and Peruvians, although not of Asian origin, subscribe to the traditional beliefs and practices of Chinese healing."
Series produced in 2010.