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Expresión Inka: New Documentary Explores Community and Identity in London’s Latinx Diaspora

By 12 October, 2020

Earlier this year I spent time with Expresión Inka, a Latin American community arts group working with the diaspora in London. Led by a Peruvian family, the group utilises Latin American folk culture to unite the Latinx diaspora into a cohesive community, whilst examining some of the social issues and challenges they face as a migrant group. The result of my time spent with them is the short documentary, Expresión Inka: Community and Identity in London’s Latinx Diaspora, premiering today on Sounds and Colours.

Through traditional music, indigenous dances, Spanish classes and alternative theatre, the group aims to engage first- and second-generation Latin Americans in London with their cultural heritage, with the hope that the youngest generations will continue to appreciate and celebrate it whilst living in the UK. As their name suggests, they are united around the symbolism of the Inka Empire, who they revere as a civilisation that was rooted in a collectivist ideology, one which understood the importance of community.

The release today coincides with Indigenous Peoples’ Day, a day celebrating the indigenous cultures of the Americas that has gained traction in recent years in lieu of Columbus Day—which commemorated the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the region.

The group mostly performs Andean music styles like the huayno, sanjuanito and tinku, as well as original compositions by its musical director Santi Horna. Expresión Inka’s director, Marita Minchola, also runs the Spanish classes that take place every Saturday in one of Unite the Union’s buildings in Central London. The group have formed strong relationships with a number of labour unions, who offer support to many Latin Americans working in the capital.

Amongst the themes explored in the documentary are the group’s promotion of a pan-Latin American identity. Its artistic director, Leyli Horna, argues that “while it’s great being able to show your identity of where we come from on a national level—when one leaves their country of origin to migrate, they leave their nationality to the side a bit and they become Latin American. You are no longer Peruvian, no longer Colombian, but more Latin American.”

Expresión Inka: Community and Identity in London’s Latinx Diaspora was produced and directed by myself, and submitted as my dissertation for a Masters degree in ethnomusicology at SOAS, University of London. It was filmed by, and edited with, Kit Powis Page.

Watch the documentary at the top of this page.

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