Sunday, December 27, 2020

el rebusque: the hustle for odd jobs/gigs.

I was reminded of the difficulty of translating this term by reading the article

Alves, Jaime Amparo. “‘Esa Paz Blanca, Esa Paz de Muerte’: Peacetime, Wartime, and Black Impossible Chronos in Postconflict Colombia.” The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology 24, no. 3 (November 2019): 653–71.
It's fantastic and if you don't have access to it email me if you want a copy. Jaime just uses the term odd jobs for rebusque and gives examples (street vending, cleaning, repairing). I like the term odd jobs but I think it leaves out the constant stress and search and finding them that the term rebusque points to, which is why I include the hustle part. People will often say 'esta en el rebusque', which I would render as 'he's on the hustle for odd jobs'. Sometimes I'll say hustling for gigs. Note that the term hustling alone could be misread as looking for sex work! You could also render this as 'scrambling to support yourself any way possible'. I would include Uber driving and meal delivery as el rebusque. Really the gig economy es la economía del rebusque.

Friday, December 4, 2020

hacer presencia/acto de presencia: make an appearance.

This is most certainly NOT to "make a presence" (as I saw here - one of a great collection of essays by anthropologists about the implementation of the Colombian peace accord four years in, all here). But what exactly is it? Acto de presencia is from legalese, where it means to formally appear in court, or appear in the court record. But this term is widely used outside of legal settings. I myself have often used it to refer to when I need to show up at a friend's event or party even just briefly, to show I care and to stay in good graces, but I plan to leave fairly quickly - or even if I stay it's not so much that I really want to be there but I go out of a sense of obligation and because my absence will be noted. In English we talk about that as making an appearance. In the article by Erin McFee that got me thinking about this term she tells a story of representatives of state agencies haciendo presencia at a 'reconciliation fair.' She connects these performances to ideas of historic absence of and now an attempt at presence by the Colombian state - so perhaps poetically the awkward translation of 'make a presence' helps her make her point, but in everyday English it sounds wrong - particularly because making an appearance is a common expression.