Educational Inequality by Race in Brazil, 1982–2007: Structural Changes and Shifts in Racial Classification

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science on 2012-03-09 22:41Z by Steven

Educational Inequality by Race in Brazil, 1982–2007: Structural Changes and Shifts in Racial Classification

Demography
Volume 49, Number 1 (February 2012)
pages 337-358
DOI: 10.1007/s13524-011-0084-6

Leticia J. Marteleto, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Population Research Center
University of Texas, Austin

Despite overwhelming improvements in educational levels and opportunity during the past three decades, educational disadvantages associated with race still persist in Brazil. Using the nationally representative Pesquisa Nacional de Amostra por DomicĂ­lio (PNAD) data from 1982 and 1987 to 2007, this study investigates educational inequalities between white, pardo (mixed-race), and black Brazilians over the 25-year period. Although the educational advantage of whites persisted during this period, I find that the significance of race as it relates to education changed. By 2007, those identified as blacks and pardos became more similar in their schooling levels, whereas in the past, blacks had greater disadvantages. I test two possible explanations for this shift: structural changes and shifts in racial classification. I find evidence for both. I discuss the findings in light of the recent race-based affirmative action policies being implemented in Brazilian universities.

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Educational Disadvantages Associated with Race Still Persist in Brazil Despite Improvements, New Study Shows

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2012-03-09 21:42Z by Steven

Educational Disadvantages Associated with Race Still Persist in Brazil Despite Improvements, New Study Shows

University of Texas, Austin
Department of Sociology
2012-01-19

Despite notable improvements in educational levels and opportunity during the past three decades, disadvantages associated with race still persist in Brazil, according to new research at The University of Texas at Austin.

Although educational advantages for white over black and pardo (mixed-race) adolescents declined considerably in Brazil, the gap is still significant, with whites completing nearly one year more of education.

Sociologist and Population Research Center affiliate Leticia Marteleto investigated educational inequalities using the nationally representative data from Pesquisa Nacional por Amostra de DomicĂ­lios from 1982 to 2007. Her findings will be published in the February issue of the journal Demography.

“Although the educational advantage of whites has persisted over this period, I found that the significance of race as it relates to education has changed in important ways,” Marteleto said.

By 2007, adolescents who identified themselves as blacks and pardos became more similar in their education levels, whereas in the past blacks had greater disadvantages, according to the study. Marteleto tested two possible explanations for this shift: structural changes in income levels and parents’ education, and shifts in racial classification…

…The second potential explanation for the closing educational gap between pardo and black Brazilians is a shift in racial identity. Children of college-educated black fathers and mothers have a greater probability of being identified by their family as black in 2007, while in 1982 these associations were still considered negative. This seems to explain — at least in part — some of the increases in the educational attainment of those identified as black in relation to pardo, since highly educated Brazilians now have a disproportionately higher likelihood of identifying their children as black rather than either white or pardo…

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Clara como el Agua

Posted in Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Videos, Women on 2012-03-09 21:25Z by Steven

Clara como el Agua

PBS Online Film Festival
2012-03-05
Duration: 00:12:20

Fernanda Rossi, Director

She’s white. She’s also black. Mostly, she’s rejected.

Clara is the only light-skinned and clear-eyed girl in an all-black neighborhood in Puerto Rico. The children tease her endlessly, telling her that her father is some “gringo” tourist with whom her mother had an affair. However, her grandmother tells her a different story.

Watch Clara como el Agua on PBS. See more from PBS Online Film Festival.

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RTF 386 – Beyond Binaries: Mixed Race Representation and Critical Theory

Posted in Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2012-03-09 18:47Z by Steven

RTF 386 – Beyond Binaries: Mixed Race Representation and Critical Theory

University of Texas, Austin
Spring 2012

Mary Beltrán, Associate Professor of Media Studies

This graduate seminar surveys historical and critical and cultural studies scholarship on the evolution of mixed race in U.S. film and media culture. American histories, cultures, and identities have traditionally been understood through rubrics of racial binaries and negations. Given this tradition, characters of mixed racial and ethnic heritage and interracial romances have served as powerful symbols within mediated story worlds, while mixed-race actors also seen be seen to highlight fault lines in the nation’s and Hollywood’s construction of race. We’ll explore the growing body of scholarship analyzing the evolution of mixed-race representation within film, media, and celebrity culture and its implications with respect to past and contemporary notions of race and the increasingly diverse U.S. audience.

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Amalgamation Schemes: Antiblackness and the Critique of Multiracialism (review)

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2012-03-09 18:00Z by Steven

Amalgamation Schemes: Antiblackness and the Critique of Multiracialism (review)

Callaloo
Volume 34, Number 1 (Winter 2011)
pages 208-210
E-ISSN: 1080-6512; Print ISSN: 0161-2492
DOI: 10.1353/cal.2011.0007

Kirin Wachter-Grene
University of Washington, Seattle

Jared Sexton. Amalgamation Schemes: Antiblackness and the Critique of Multiracialism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008.

Anxieties about American multiracial identity and practices, known in the nineteenth century as “amalgamation” or “miscegenation,” have been percolating in the national imagination for centuries. Since the 1980s, however, this cultural fascination has become explicitly politicized across sundry civic and intellectual landscapes, and since referred to as “multiracialism” or “mestizaje” (“mixture”). Broadly speaking, multiracialism, while re-structuring racial/ethnic classifications, curiously strives to provide freedom from being identified as or self-identifying as explicitly racialized. It is, in essence, a call for a supra-racial, or post-racial society. While the socio-political complications of this proposal have been the subject of recent scholarly work, the sexual politics of the multiracial movement have gone largely critically unexamined.

In his first book, Amalgamation Schemes: Antiblackness and the Critique of Multiracialism, Jared Sexton argues that multiracial politics, presented as the solution to racial controversy in the post-civil rights United States, actually reifies racial essentialism, evokes and implements antiblack racism, and denounces decades of black theoretical work and organizing traditions in its ultimate attempt to de-legitimize blackness as a viable political, social, and sexual identity. Lewis Gordon, Minkah Makalani, and Rainier Spencer have constructed similar arguments about the supposed inherent antiblack racism prevalent in multiracial politics, but Sexton, while acknowledging and extending their insights, integrates a strong argument about sexual politics into the prevailing discourse. He argues that multiracialism is not, as it claims, a political antithesis to white supremacy or sexual racism. Rather, multiracialism codifies normative sexuality within and across the color line with disastrous effects, producing a desexualization of race, and a deracialization of sex that reinforces racist sexual pathologies. Exposing the inextricable relation between sexuality and racism, specifically in regards to multiracialism’s articulations of interracial sex (defined by Sexton as a relationship in which one of the partners is black), comprises the bulk of this work. Throughout the book the terms “multiracialism” and “interracialism” are primarily used by Sexton to examine relations between blacks and whites or blacks and non-white, non-black people. Rarely does he apply the terms to analyze relations between other racial groups, a theoretical move that at times is awkwardly articulated and exclusionary, but integral to Sexton’s thesis that blackness is the matrix through which racialization is constructed, and that multiracialism engenders a denial of specifically black legitimacy.

Multiracialism strives to disarticulate mixed race individuals from the one-drop rule of hypodescent—the rule that was wielded in nineteenth-century America to render all mixed race individuals black by law. Multiracialism, Sexton argues, is an epistemological denouncement of systems of racial classification, not of racism itself. It is the goal of contemporary multiracialism to allow for mixed race individuals to self-identify as “mixed” (i.e., Sexton argues, not black). Claiming to be “mixed” and more broadly, claiming a “mestizo” (4) American nationalism is erroneous, in that it disregards the de facto Atlantic hybridity of all black subjects, and propagates a neoliberal “color blind” ideology that is really an amalgamation of whiteness actively striving to eradicate blackness from the cultural ethnic makeup. “Because the disassociation of multiracial people from racial whiteness is historically intractable,” Sexton writes, “the description of ‘the offspring of these unions’ as ‘neither one race or another’ is an artifice, a means of more subtly declaring that ‘mixed race’ should never have been viewed merely as a ‘subset’ of ‘blackness'” (74). In other words, though the multiracial movement strives to eradicate white supremacist tendencies by disarticulating notions of racial essentialism, it succeeds only in reifying those same racialized categories. If one is mixed and, in essence, claiming neither race, one is suggesting that there are pure races with which to disidentify, particularly the race of “pure” blackness because whiteness is normative and historically obstinate. Ultimately, it is this amalgamated form of “whiteness” that Sexton posits as the ideological goal of multiracial advocates…

Read the entire review here.

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In the Place of Clare Kendry: A Gothic Reading of Race and Sexuality in Nella Larsen’s Passing

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing on 2012-03-09 17:58Z by Steven

In the Place of Clare Kendry: A Gothic Reading of Race and Sexuality in Nella Larsen’s Passing

Callaloo
Volume 34, Number 1, Winter 2011
pages 143-157
DOI: 10.1353/cal.2011.0024

Johanna M. Wagner
Maastricht University

Feeling her colour heighten under the continued inspection, she slid her eyes down. What, she wondered, could be the reason for such persistent attention? Had she, in her haste in the taxi, put her hat on backwards? Guardedly she felt at it. No. Perhaps there was a streak of powder somewhere on her face. She made a quick pass over it with her handkerchief. Something wrong with her dress? She shot a glance over it. Perfectly all right. What was it?

—Nella Larsen, Passing

In a book where the protagonist prides herself in knowing who she is, the final question in the epigraph above is indicative of Irene Redfield’s willful self-ignorance. It is also a reasonable question readers have had about the protagonist and her relationship with the notorious Clare Kendry. What was it between the two women that in the end warrants Clare’s demise? The answer to this question lies somewhere within Irene’s need for ontological certainty—sureness in the knowledge of her own being—that begets security in every aspect of her life. Irene’s security is based on, among other things, stasis. When we meet her, Irene has already meticulously defined and secured her concepts of race and sex and relegated them to their respective compartments in her psyche, never to be revisited. For revisiting either of these ideas would surely breach the serene outlook she entertains about her life. It is her resolve to maintain security that drives the action of the novel and will illuminate what it “was” in Clare that incites such anxiety.

On the roof of the Drayton, unsure of why she elicits a stranger’s scrutiny, Irene responds to the stubborn stare by inspecting herself, mentally running through a list of possible reasons for this unsettling attention (Larsen 149). Her mind whirls as she attempts to pinpoint what it is about her appearance that might be worthy of this penetrating gaze. It is not until after she has exhausted the list of possible material/physical anomalies that she finally resolves to ignore the woman and “let her look!” (149). Ironically, however, foreshadowed by her heightening “colour,” at length Irene suspects “it” may be something less visual, less tangible than her hat, makeup, or dress: “Gradually there rose in Irene a small inner disturbance, odious and hatefully familiar. She laughed softly, but her eyes flashed. Did that woman, could that woman, somehow know that here before her very eyes on the roof of the Drayton sat a Negro?” (150). This early scene is indicative of Irene’s incongruous character. She prides herself in her bourgeois participation toward racial uplift, and yet race does not cross her mind until there is no other alternative. It is a remarkable juxtaposition between the title of the novel Passing, which implies race as no less than the major theme, and the absentminded protagonist who pinpoints the issue only after she has ruled out all else. It is no wonder criticism of Passing has struggled with its importance. Because Irene’s interest in race proves sparse and erratic, the reader may resist its significance to the novel, and certainly to Irene, altogether.

Ambiguity surrounding the issue of race is not the only thing vague in Larsen’s novel. The book has a penchant for opacity: the unreliable narrator, the conflation of protagonist with antagonist, the shocking and uncertain ending; critics have been flustered by this murkiness since its publication. For example, in his 1958 book The Negro Novel in America, Robert A. Bone dismisses the novel as Larsen’s “less important” one, preferring Larsen’s other work Quicksand (101). His dismissive attitude is illustrated through his irritation by certain structural features in Passing. For Bone, “a false and shoddy denouement prevents the novel from rising above mediocrity” (102). Hoyt Fuller has similar concerns; in his introduction to the 1971 publication of Passing, he asserts that Larsen’s “deliberate scene setting” is reminiscent of a “mediocre home magazine story teller” (18). Because these critics position the work within the realm of the “typical” passing novel (Bone 101) and presume the tragic mulatto myth to explain any social or psychological issues, themes such as “race” are relegated to the background of their criticism while their interests in convention and composition are foregrounded…

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“The Role of Implicatures in Kate Chopin’s Louisiana Short Stories”

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2012-03-09 04:37Z by Steven

“The Role of Implicatures in Kate Chopin’s Louisiana Short Stories”

Journal of the Short Story in English
Issue 40, Spring 2003
pages 69-84

Teresa Gibert, Professor of English
Spanish National University of Distance Education (UNED) in Madrid

It is tempting, in interpreting a literary text from an author one respects, to look further and further for hidden implications. Having found an interpretation consistent with the principle of relevance—an interpretation (which may itself be very rich and vague) which the writer might have thought of as adequate repayment for the reader’s effort—why not go on and look for ever richer implications and reverberations? (Sperber and Wilson 1996: 278)

The popular renown and the critical praise that Kate Chopin received during her lifetime resulted essentially from her Louisiana short stories, published first in various magazines and subsequently collected in the volumes Bayou Folk (1894) and A Night in Acadie (1897). After her death in 1904, a few of these stories were included in various anthologies and thus became virtually the only pieces of Chopin’s literary production available to the general public, whereas her later works went out of print or remained unpublished. For several decades her name was almost invisible in the field of literary criticism, except as a “local colorist,” a term that nowadays some scholars are reluctant to apply to her (Forkner and Samway xxii), partly because it has so often been used derogatorily, although there have been recent attempts to reappraise it, emphasizing its positive value (Ewell and Menke xvi). Others have taken into account her own ambivalence towards the local-color movement, from which she unsuccessfully tried to detach herself (Papke 24, Staunton 203, Steiling 197, Taylor 156). Indeed, for many years the status of Kate Chopin was that of a marginalized local colorist because she was associated exclusively with her early narratives set in Louisiana, which were taken to exemplify local-color fiction, a genre that captivated American readers in the 1880s and 1890s but which experienced a decrease in popularity during the twentieth century.

When modern scholarship rediscovered Chopin’s writings in the 1970s—following Per Seyersted’s publication of Kate Chopin: A Critical Biography and his edition of her Complete Works, both in 1969—they were mainly analyzed from feminist perspectives. Consequently, attention was focused on her most mature works, with a particular emphasis on The Awakening (1899) and those short stories which were labeled “proto-feminist.” When A Vocation and a Voice—Chopin’s third collection of short stories, which she had begun writing in 1893—was finally published in 1991, it was also warmly welcomed by feminists. Meanwhile, her early Louisiana short stories became comparatively neglected. Not until recently have they been subjected to close scrutiny in the light of various theoretical frameworks, some of which are unrelated to feminism…

…Due to its explicitness, “The Storm” has not generated any contrasting interpretations, in spite of the close critical attention to which it has been submitted. Likewise, another of Chopin’s mature short narratives, “The Story of an Hour” (composed and first published in 1894) does not allow for much conjecture. Little effort of elucidation is needed to understand that it is about the sense of freedom enjoyed by a woman during the hour she mistakenly thinks that she is a widow, until she discovers that her husband is still alive. Both “The Storm” and “The Story of an Hour” exemplify maximum explicitness, and consequently, maximum consensus on the author’s intentions and readers’ interpretations. In order to illustrate the opposite end of the spectrum, that is, maximum implicitness, and therefore, a wide range of diverging opinions, I would like to focus on Chopin’s most famous Louisiana short story: “DĂ©sirĂ©e’s Baby.”

Désirée, a foundling raised by Monsieur and Madame Valmondé in their Louisiana plantation as if she were their own daughter, “grew to be beautiful and gentle, affectionate and sincere.” At eighteen she married Armand Aubigny, the heir to another plantation, and was cruelly rejected by him after giving birth to a mixed-race baby whose black ancestry derived in fact from the child’s paternal grandmother. We learn this at the very end of the story, once we have been told that Désirée and the baby have disappeared forever into the bayou. This is an extremely brief outline of the plot, which is almost impossible to summarize in a satisfactory manner because Chopin’s text resists further reduction. The richness of the story is based on the accumulation of significant details, and thanks to its concise prose, the author managed to compress into 2,152 words the contents of what she could have expanded into a whole novel. Chopin’s verbal economy partially accounts for her need to implicate, rather than explicate, but apart from the requirements of condensation inherent in the short fiction genre, there were also other reasons for her preference to communicate through veiled suggestions and resort to understatement. At the time of composing “Désirée’s Baby,” Kate Chopin was striving to be accepted by northern editors as a serious professional writer in the carefully regulated market of magazine and book publishing, controlled by censoring eyes, and consequently she could not work as spontaneously as she claimed (Complete Works 722), but under constraints that inhibited her treatment of socially sensitive topics.

This story was composed in 1892, and when it was published by Vogue in January of the following year under the title of “The Father of DĂ©sirĂ©e’s Baby,” it was an immediate success. It was included in Bayou Folk (1894), Chopin’s first collection of twenty-three short stories and sketches which received over two hundred reviews and press notices. “DĂ©sirĂ©e’s Baby” was frequently singled out for praise, and as it was often anthologized, it remained continuously in print while most of Kate Chopin’s work was virtually unavailable. Among the reasons that may account for such acclaim, we should mention the fact that Kate Chopin’s main themes—marriage and motherhood—are explored here through a submissive and vulnerable female protagonist who is far from being like the emancipated heroines that people her later fiction. A third theme, that of miscegenation, which is rather unusual in Chopin’s fiction, was particularly controversial when the story was first published, but thanks to the author’s “masterful phrasing and subtle word-choice” (Reilly 1942: 135), her audience, far from feeling offended, was delighted. It was indeed a period of “latent and massive social antagonism against miscegenation […] among both blacks and whites” (Williamson 90)…

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Articulating Space: The Free-Colored Military Establishment in Colonial Mexico from the Conquest to Independence

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico on 2012-03-09 04:25Z by Steven

Articulating Space: The Free-Colored Military Establishment in Colonial Mexico from the Conquest to Independence

Callaloo
Volume 27, Number 1 (Winter 2004)
pages 150-171
DOI: 10.1353/cal.2004.0052

Ben Vinson, III, Vice Dean for Centers, Interdepartmental Programs, and Graduate Programs
Johns Hopkins University

Introduction: Questioning the Question of Non-White Military Service in Colonial Mexico

At the close of the seventeenth century, even with Spain feeling the heat of war and with streams of pirate raids still punishing the coastlines of the crown’s New World holdings, Spanish bureaucrats cringed when considering the prospect of using black troops to defend their possessions. Francisco de Seijas y Lobera, the former alcalde mayor (district governor) of Tacuba, a distinguished member of the Spanish gentry, a scientist, merchant, and a traveler, seemed to capture the spirit of the times in his fourteen-volume history of the Spanish kingdom. Written between 1702–1704 as a counseling guide for the new monarch, Philip V, Seijas dedicated an entire tome exclusively to Mexican affairs. Within, he described in detail the existing military landscape, the scope of enemy threats, the parameters of existing defenses, and most importantly, he offered a series of recommendations for improving the mechanisms for protecting the crown’s borders. During times of emergency, Seijas suggested that Mexico could probably count upon the military services of 200,000 coastal and frontier defenders. His estimates tallied that a full 175,000 of these would be drawn from the negro, mulatto, pardo, Indian, and mestizo racial classes.

But in his enthusiasm for advocating the expansion of the military to include nonwhites, Seijas also revealed certain prejudices that seemed characteristic of his times. Sure, negros and mulattos (i.e. free-coloreds) could be called upon to serve; however, the terms of their service had to be constricted:

With respect to the formation of the two companies, considering (as one should) that the said negros and mulatos cannot be allowed to use swords and daggers, sharp weapons, or firearms of any type… it is not convenient or safe for the service of the king that the tremendous number of negro and mulatto rabble that exist (sic) in the Indies use such weapons. This is because they could use these arms to revolt. Moreover, there is no just or political reason why these people, who are of the same species as slaves (being their offspring), should enjoy the same privileges (preeminencias) as Spaniards. For these reasons, and because [negros and mulattos] have already been involved in many uprisings and tumults in the Indies, it is best for the crown that free negros and mulattos not be permitted to use offensive or defensive weapons.

Seijas proceeded to state that only salaried, full-time free-colored soldiers should be allowed to carry such armament. By contrast, the bulk of his proposed negro and mulatto militia forces, including mounted lancers, were to wield long spears and machetes, weapons that were light, easy to handle, and that could inflict harm on the enemy while minimizing the threat to the colony itself. Junior and senior officers within these militia units might be permitted to carry daggers, swords, and pistols, but mainly to demarcate differences in rank and to inspire their loyalty to the Spanish crown.

I provide Seijas’ comments here because they are emblematic of larger trends that permeated the colonial world. They reveal, in stark terms, the predicament of partial citizenship experienced by colonials of color. On the one hand, from as early as the 16th century, mulattos, negros, and pardos were processed in the colonial social framework as gente de razón (rational people). They were distinguishable from Indians in this respect and placed on par with Spaniards in that they were considered “responsible” for their own actions in ways that could be upheld in colonial courts. In other words, whites, mestizos, and free-coloreds participated in the same colonial legal sphere, one that was, in many ways, distinct from Indians. But on the other hand, the shadow of slavery followed the mulatto and negro population into freedom. Their heritage caused them to be described simultaneously as gente de razón and gente vil (base folk), which referenced a supposedly innate set of vices that were inextricably linked to their African bloodlines. Miscegenation with white colonists theoretically extended the possibility of “improving” these “malicious” traits by blending them with the benefits of Spanish “whiteness.” However, more often than not, racial mixture was believed to accentuate the worst racial qualities. Hence, under the rubric of the caste system that gradually evolved over the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, free-coloreds were routinely described as haughty, cruel, shiftless, prone to licentiousness, and malevolent. Partly in an effort to contain these vices and to prevent them from “contaminating” the indigenous population, restrictive legislation was decreed, resulting in a deeper, formal articulation of the Spanish colonial caste system.

As the differences between black and white, free-colored, and mestizo began to  sediment, at the same time the distinctions between them began to blur. The phenomenon of partial citizenship rested on the ambiguity produced by questions over the proper station of peoples of color. The military was one arena where the seemingly contradictory elements of caste clarity and caste doubt played themselves out. Beginning in medieval times and extending into the sixteenth century, military service, particularly mounted duty, was construed as a marker of nobility. On a more abstract level, bearing arms in the name of the king was one of the greatest tangible expressions of Spanishness that one could project. Implicit in the act of dressing for combat was expressing interest in defending the colonial order. That meant upholding the principles of conquest, supporting the caste framework of racial dominance with its inherent favoring of white privilege, and sanctioning colonial modes of exploitative labor (including slavery). Yet at the same time, the act of having nonwhites participating in the military establishment threw these issues into question. To what extent were free-colored actions reflective of their commitment to the colonial regime, and to what extent were they not? Did their fragmented, partial citizenship produce fragmented and partial loyalties? How did their participation in the military alter its mission and objectives? How did their participation affect and shape the policies of the colonial state? What were the types of interactions that existed between the state and free-colored military actors?

This article takes these concerns as a point of departure for examining the way free-coloreds became integrated into the colonial Mexican military establishment. But it is important to point out that the focus here is on militia duty, not regular army service. This is a significant distinction. Militias represented localized, provincial expressions of a broader military apparatus. In other words, some of the objectives of imperial service that existed within the regular army, and that often went unquestioned by regular soldiers, became re-worked, filtered, and re-articulated at the local level. Militiamen brought to the military specific understandings of the functioning of the state that emanated from their provincial experiences. As militiamen, they projected their local worlds unto imperial affairs. Regular troops, arguably, represented more concrete instruments of imperial control. As a consequence, the militia probably wielded more social power. Through its chain of command, the militiamen held the attention of high officials such as the viceroy, the auditor de guerra (senior military justice official), and top administrators in the treasury department. Militiamen, even those at the lowest levels, could utilize both the symbolic and material support they acquired from senior crown bureaucrats to frontally contest the policies of local and regional officials. They could also use their political capital to fortify patron-client relationships, to secure privileges for their townships (such as fishing and land rights), to cement racial and regional identities, and even to undermine the structures of racial privilege by challenging the meaning of caste legislation. For instance, matters such as tribute policy could be re-examined in context of the services that free-coloreds rendered in uniform. In more dramatic instances (as occurred in seventeenth and eighteenth century Cuba), militia service could transform the meaning of slavery itself, providing access for people in bondage to become office-holding vecinos (landed citizens or residents) and therefore, eligible for participation in the political life of colonial affairs.  The history offered below provides some flashpoints of duty, tracing a number of the key moments in the evolution of the colonial Mexican free-colored militia institution, while examining some of its concrete effects on the colony’s pardos, mulattos, and negros. At various points throughout the article, the interplay between the militiamen’s local (sometimes racialized) understanding of service and the broader imperial perspective of duty will be highlighted…

Read the entire article here.

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