The Techno-Tamaladas

The Techno-Tamaladas draw on thousands of years of knowledge and practice cultivating corn/maize across the Americas to sustain life. We invite and recruit tinkerers, artists, activists, scientists, eco folks, immigrants, refugees, students, homeless folks, tamale makers, tech workers, city council members, tamale lovers, and all community to sit together, and make and share tamales.


The first series of Techno-Tamaladas will be held at ECAP Food Bank, 3610 San Pablo Avenue Emeryville, CA from 11AM - 4PM on Saturday, July 27; Saturday, August 24; Saturday, Sept 21. All the Techno-Tamaladas are free and accessible to folks in wheel chairs. Tamale making experience NOT needed, all are welcome!


The Emeryville Eye covered the first Techno-Tamalada held on July 27, as part of the SF Homeless Project’s Bay Area wide media coverage on homelessness in the Bay Area. Journalist Sarah Lin reported that “Emeryville’s homeless population increased by a staggering 513 percent this year…” She covered aspects of the Techno-Tamaladas on collective approaches to the corporate technology sector, as “I envision contributing to collective approaches that address the imbalances of wealth,” said Praba Pilar... Locally, the cost has been wealth inequality, increasing poverty, increasing homelessness of children, gentrification, displacement and extremely damaging impacts on low-income communities,” she said. “We talked about emerging and different technologies and how they are working and not working,” said Pilar. “I wanted to talk about the technologies we use in relation with maize in the Americas as early hybrid technologies.”


The second series of Techno-Tamaladas, co-produced with Pro Arts Gallery & COMMONS, will be held in downtown Oakland on Saturday, Oct 19, and Fruitvale on Saturday, Dec 14 - Locations to be announced

The Techno-Tamaladas transfer knowledge about technologies of survival and resurgence of Indigenous, Latinx and African-American communities to instill a more creative technological imaginary. While the broad impacts of technologies of surveillance, social media, racial profiling, militarized policing and effects of displacement and dislocation on low income communities of color in the Bay Area have been devastating, we reorient ideas and practices around technology.

The Tamaladas focus on MesoAmerican tamales from Mexico; on Hot Tamales of African American communities of the Mississippi Delta; and on plantain tamales from the Andes in Colombia.


Maize is indigenous to the Americas, the word comes from Mahíz in the Taíno/Arauco language, translated into Spanish as ‘fuente de vida’ or ‘sustento de la vida’ (in English is ‘fountain of life’ and ‘sustainer of life.’) Thousands of years ago, the people of Meso America developed nixtamalization, a process that increases the nutritional value of corn. In the Aztec language Nahuatl, nixtamalli or nextamalli is a compound of nextli "ashes" and tamalli "unformed corn dough, tamal".

Maize is the basis of cosmovisions in the Americas:

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Tamale comes from the Nahuatl word tamalli, and originated in Mesoamerica as early as 8000 to 5000 BC. The Olmec, Toltec, Aztec and Maya all made tamales, they were sacred and a large part of rituals and festivals.




The Southern Foodways Alliance has researched the origins of Hot Tamales of the Mississippi Delta, and share that “Some hypothesize that tamales made their way to the Mississippi Delta in the early twentieth century when migrant laborers from Mexico arrived to work the cotton harvest. African Americans who labored alongside Mexican migrants recognized the basic tamale ingredients: corn meal and pork. Others maintain that the Delta history with tamales goes back to the U.S.-Mexican War one hundred years earlier, when U.S. soldiers traveled to Mexico and brought tamale recipes home with them. Others still argue that tamales date to the Mississippian culture of mound-building Native Americans. Today, African Americans are the primary keepers of Delta tamale-making tradition.”

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The Tamaladas are being collaboratively produced with Pro Arts Gallery & COMMONS. This project was developed in a Grace Performance Space (New York) residency in upstate New York in May 2018. Many thanks to Adam Zaretsky for input. Generous support for this project has been awarded by the City of Emeryville Community Grants Program, the Local Impact Award of the California Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.