The Rise of the Afro-descendent Identity in Latin America

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Interviews, Media Archive on 2018-03-30 02:11Z by Steven

The Rise of the Afro-descendent Identity in Latin America

teleSUR
2018-03-04

For Black History Month, Catherine Walsh, professor of Afro-Andean Studies at the University Simon Bolivar in Quito, Ecuador, shares with teleSUR her views about the achievements and challenges for the construction of an Afro-descendent consciousness in Latin America.

What in recent history would you say has contributed to the rise of a Black and Afro-descendent identity, with Black communities now embracing more than ever their culture across the continent?

Yes, this has changed radically. Several moments in recent history are important to highlight: in the 1990s, with the rise of Indigenous movements, alliances were built between Indigenous and Black people like in Ecuador.

But Black communities also began to organize by themselves, involving the construction of a notion of a Black territory, sometimes referred to as the ‚ÄúGran Comarca‚ÄĚ from the South of Panama to the North of Ecuador, where national identity does not matter. Black people living in the region often come from the same families, they have similar last names, and for many years have moved freely over the borders identifying as Afro-descendent and regardless of the national borders…

Read the entire interview here.

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Race, or The Last Colonial Struggle in Latin America

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Slavery on 2018-03-18 01:10Z by Steven

Race, or The Last Colonial Struggle in Latin America

Age of Revolutions
2018-03-12

Jason McGraw, Associate Professor of History
Indiana University, Bloomington


Simón Bolívar emancipa los esclavos de Colombia [Simón Bolívar Frees the Slaves of Colombia], Luis Cancino Fernández, Venezuela, 19th century.

Latin America has long captivated outsiders for its seeming absence of a black-white racial binary, fluidity in racial self-ascriptions, and racially-mixed populations. Latin American elites, for their part, willingly adopted this sense of exceptionalism, and for much of the twentieth century the region gained a reputation as home to so-called racial democracies.1 Yet over the last 30 years, scholars and activists have documented the region’s pervasive anti-black and anti-Indian sentiments and its lack of social mobility for people of African or indigenous descent. Societies once heralded as racially democratic are now exposed for their rampant racist exclusions and inequality, which are often accompanied by fervent disavowals of racism.2

Even as challenges to the myth of racial democracy deserve plaudits, they have arrived with some of their own blinkered assumptions. Like earlier pro-racial democracy polemics, recent critical antiracist scholarship often relies on static notions of culture and ahistorical understandings of Latin America. But what would happen if we pushed back the timeline and examined politics, as well as culture? How would our understanding of Latin America’s racial orders change if we looked at its nineteenth-century revolutionary upheavals?3

Because I can‚Äôt cover the entire region or the last two centuries in this blog post, I‚Äôll focus on Colombia, the country I have studied most closely, and on important turning points in the nineteenth-century politics of race. What I hope becomes clear is that both the older myth of racial democracy and increasingly acknowledged racial inequality, each perceived in its own way as an unchanging truth, owe something of their existence to nineteenth-century revolutionary struggles…

Read the entire article here.

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The Work of Recognition: Caribbean Colombia and the Postemancipation Struggle for Citizenship

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Monographs on 2018-03-18 00:40Z by Steven

The Work of Recognition: Caribbean Colombia and the Postemancipation Struggle for Citizenship

University of North Carolina Press
August 2014
344 pages
6.125 x 9.25
6 halftones, 1 map, 4 tables, notes, bibl., index
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-1786-2
eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-1787-9

Jason McGraw, Associate Professor of History
Indiana University, Bloomington

2015 Michael Jiménez Prize, Colombia Section, Latin American Studies Association

This book tells the compelling story of postemancipation Colombia, from the liberation of the slaves in the 1850s through the country’s first general labor strikes in the 1910s. As Jason McGraw demonstrates, ending slavery fostered a new sense of citizenship, one shaped both by a model of universal rights and by the particular freedom struggles of African-descended people. Colombia’s Caribbean coast was at the center of these transformations, in which women and men of color, the region’s majority population, increasingly asserted the freedom to control their working conditions, fight in civil wars, and express their religious beliefs.

The history of Afro-Colombians as principal social actors after emancipation, McGraw argues, opens up a new view on the practice and meaning of citizenship. Crucial to this conception of citizenship was the right of recognition. Indeed, attempts to deny the role of people of color in the republic occurred at key turning points exactly because they demanded public recognition as citizens. In connecting Afro-Colombians to national development, The Work of Recognition also places the story within the broader contexts of Latin American popular politics, culture, and the African diaspora.

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Fighting for Black Lives in Colombia: ‚ÄėThe People Do Not Give Up, Damn It‚Äô

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Slavery, Social Justice on 2017-07-05 22:21Z by Steven

Fighting for Black Lives in Colombia: ‚ÄėThe People Do Not Give Up, Damn It‚Äô

The Root
2017-07-01

Lori S. Robinson


iStock

Editor’s note: This story is the first in a three-part series looking at the fight for rights of black people in Colombia. This first piece explores the history of Afro-Colombians and the impact of the recently ended war with the FARC. Subsequent stories will examine the current political environment. 

Black activism started in Colombia when Africans arrived in chains.

Spaniards were early kingpins in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, first importing kidnapped Africans into what was then New Granada in the 1520s‚ÄĒa century before the British brought this epic crime against humanity to North America.

Concentrated along the country‚Äôs Pacific coast, enslaved people were forced to do agricultural labor and, primarily, to mine gold. This region became majority black during colonial times. It still is…

…Colombia never had legal segregation after slavery, like the United States. The national narrative of Colombia, like most of Latin America, has been that inequality is economic, not racial, and that significant racial mixing throughout the country‚Äôs history proves that racism doesn‚Äôt exist. According to Perea, Colombians have gone so far as to say that ‚Äúracism was solely an expression of North American culture.‚ÄĚ

Meanwhile, the largest numbers of black Colombians have been isolated, abandoned by their own government, without educational or employment opportunities, living in poverty…

Read the entire article here.

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Degrees of Mixture, Degrees of Freedom: Genomics, Multiculturalism, and Race in Latin America

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Mexico, Monographs, Social Science on 2017-05-03 02:22Z by Steven

Degrees of Mixture, Degrees of Freedom: Genomics, Multiculturalism, and Race in Latin America

Duke University Press
2017-05-05
328 pages
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6358-3
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8223-6373-6
12 illustrations

Peter Wade, Professor of Social Anthropology
University of Manchester

Race mixture, or mestizaje, has played a critical role in the history, culture, and politics of Latin America. In Degrees of Mixture, Degrees of Freedom, Peter Wade draws on a multidisciplinary research study in Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia. He shows how Latin American elites and outside observers have emphasized mixture’s democratizing potential, depicting it as a useful resource for addressing problems of racism (claiming that race mixture undoes racial difference and hierarchy), while Latin American scientists participate in this narrative with claims that genetic studies of mestizos can help isolate genetic contributors to diabetes and obesity and improve health for all. Wade argues that, in the process, genomics produces biologized versions of racialized difference within the nation and the region, but a comparative approach nuances the simple idea that highly racialized societies give rise to highly racialized genomics. Wade examines the tensions between mixture and purity, and between equality and hierarchy in liberal political orders, exploring how ideas and scientific data about genetic mixture are produced and circulate through complex networks.

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With images of people of various skin tones, urban Afro-Colombians as well as farmers and people in traditional clothes, and music in the background that was not easily identifiable with any specific region in the country, the commercial’s message was clear: they were all AfroColombian.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2017-01-10 19:31Z by Steven

The Beautiful Faces commercial was about thirty seconds long: ‚ÄėI am negro, morena, mulata, zamba. I am Afro-descendant. I count. Palenquero, raizal, mulato, negra, I count. Afro-descendant, morena, negra. I‚Äôm zambo, raizal. I count. Palenquero, negro.‚Äô It ended with the confident words of Maria Eugenia Arboleda, a famous AfroColombian actress: ‚ÄėMy people, in this census, count yourself!‚Äô This was followed by the some fifteen Afro-Colombians featured in the commercial exclaiming in unison: ‚ÄėProud to be Afro-Colombian!‚Äô With images of people of various skin tones, urban Afro-Colombians as well as farmers and people in traditional clothes, and music in the background that was not easily identifiable with any specific region in the country, the commercial‚Äôs message was clear: they were all AfroColombian.

Tianna S. Paschel, ‚Äú‚ÄėThe Beautiful Faces of my Black People‚Äô: race, ethnicity and the politics of Colombia‚Äôs 2005 census,‚ÄĚ Ethnic and Racial Studies, Volume 36, Issue 10 (2013). 11-12. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2013.791398.

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‚ÄėThe Beautiful Faces of my Black People‚Äô: race, ethnicity and the politics of Colombia’s 2005 census

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2017-01-06 02:22Z by Steven

‚ÄėThe Beautiful Faces of my Black People‚Äô: race, ethnicity and the politics of Colombia’s 2005 census

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Volume 36, 2013 – Issue 10: Rethinking Race, Racism, Identity, and Ideology in Latin America
Pages 1544-1563
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2013.791398

Tianna S. Paschel, Assistant Professor of African American Studies
University of California, Berkeley

The recent multicultural turn in Latin America has made the census a key site of struggle for both recognition and resources. Drawing on document analysis and ethnographic methods, this paper examines the politics around Colombia’s 2005 census. I argue that Afro-Colombian organizations were successful in pressuring the state to move beyond the purely cultural notions of blackness institutionalized in the 1991 constitution and toward a broader ethno-racial Afro-Colombian category in the 2005 census. However, their success required them not only to situate their claims in international mandates and domestic law, but also to grapple with competing definitions of blackness within the movement itself. In this way, the Afro-Colombian movement has been an important actor in shaping how ‚Äėofficial‚Äô ethno-racial categories are made and remade in Colombia. This case not only sheds light on the politics of multiculturalism in Latin America more generally, but raises questions about how we understand ‚Äėrace‚Äô versus ‚Äėethnicity‚Äô.

Read the entire article here.

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‚ÄėWe Are All the Same, We All Are Mestizos‚Äô: Imagined Populations and Nations in Genetics Research in Colombia

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2016-07-29 20:16Z by Steven

‚ÄėWe Are All the Same, We All Are Mestizos‚Äô: Imagined Populations and Nations in Genetics Research in Colombia

Science as Culture
Volume 23, Issue 2, 2014
pages 226-252
DOI: 10.1080/09505431.2013.838214

María Fernanda Olarte Sierra, Assistant Professor
Department of Design
University of the Andes, Bogot√°, Colombia

Adriana Díaz Del Castillo Hernández, Independent Researcher
Consultoría en Estudios Sociales Sobre Educación, Salud, Ciencia y Tecnología, Bogotá, Colombia

In Colombia, as in other Latin American countries, current population genetics research is based on the understanding that Colombians constitute a mestizo nation, given the admixture process that took place between Africans, Amerindians, and Europeans during colonial times. The mestizo is a pervasive category used by geneticists to conduct, organise, and publish research studies that deal with the continent’s peopling process and the genetic makeup of its contemporary population(s). It is also the dominant imaginary for the Colombian population and a key nation-building ideology. By tracing how this category moves and is used across four Colombian genetics laboratories, it is possible to discern that despite its apparently clear-cut boundaries, the mestizo is contingent, contested, and flexible, allowing for multiple understandings and usages. This flexibility and multiplicity are visible in the quantification of genetic ancestry, the divisions of geographical location, and the understanding of gender. Such understandings allow one to think about a homogeneous nation (inclusive) that is simultaneously heterogeneous (exclusive); they provide multiple but not necessarily contradictory possibilities of being mestizo, allowing the coexistence of images of the nation that could otherwise seem contradictory; and they permit navigation around contested terms such as race, while simultaneously thinking of mixed races or racialised individuals. Finally, these flexible and multiple constructions of the mestizo (re)produce various subjects as ‚Äėother‚Äô, whether they are women, the Indigenous, the black/dark, or the poor.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Nation and the Absent Presence of Race in Latin American Genomics

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Mexico on 2016-07-29 19:30Z by Steven

Nation and the Absent Presence of Race in Latin American Genomics

Current Anthropology
Volume 55, Number 5 (October 2014)
pages 497-522
DOI: 10.1086/677945

Peter Wade, Professor of Social Anthropology
University of Manchester

Vivette García Deister, Associate Professor
Social Studies of Science Laboratory
National Autonomous University of Mexico

Michael Kent, Honorary Research Fellow in Social Anthropology
School of Social Sciences
University of Manchester

María Fernanda Olarte Sierra, Assistant Professor
Department of Design
University of the Andes, Bogot√°, Colombia

Adriana Díaz del Castillo Hernández, Independent Researcher
Consultoría en Estudios Sociales Sobre Educación, Salud, Ciencia y Tecnología, Bogotá, Colombia

Recent work on genomics and race makes the argument that concepts and categories of race are subtly reproduced in the practice of genomic science, despite the explicit rejection of race as meaningful biological reality by many geneticists. Our argument in this paper is that racialized meanings in genomics, rather than standing alone, are very often wrapped up in ideas about nation. This seems to us a rather neglected aspect in the literature about genomics and race. More specifically, we characterize race as an absent presence in Latin America and argue that genomics in the region finds a particular expression of race through concepts of nation, because this vehicle suits the deep-rooted ambiguity of race in the region. To make this argument we use data from an ethnographic project with genetics labs in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico.

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La Esclava Blanca: The New Telenovela Rewriting Colombia’s History of Slavery

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Communications/Media Studies, History, Media Archive, Slavery, Social Justice, Women on 2016-07-07 01:15Z by Steven

La Esclava Blanca: The New Telenovela Rewriting Colombia’s History of Slavery

AAIHS: African American Intellectual History Society
2016-07-06

Yesenia Barragan
Columbia University, New York, New York

This is a guest post by Yesenia Barragan, a historian of race, slavery, and emancipation in Colombia, Afro-Latin America, and the Atlantic/Pacific worlds. She recently received her Ph.D. in Latin American and Caribbean History at Columbia University and will be a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Dartmouth College in the Fall 2016. She is currently revising her book manuscript, tentatively titled The Darkest Place: Slavery and Emancipation on the Colombian Pacific, which is the first detailed study of the gradual abolition of slavery (1821-1852) and the immediate aftermath of emancipation in the Pacific lowlands of Colombia. Yesenia is also a longtime activist and has published several pieces for the Latin American news agency Telesur on the historical memory of slavery in the Americas, Black Lives Matter, and Colombian politics.

Between Underground and Roots, the past year has witnessed a boom in the cinematic portrayal of the ugly business of and resistance to slavery in the U.S. South. Little known to American audiences, however, is the recent debut of a television series from the Latin American country of Colombia titled La Esclava Blanca (The White Slave), which depicts the slaveholding world of post-colonial Colombia, currently the country with the third largest Afro-descendent population in the Western Hemisphere (after the United States and Brazil). Produced by Caracol TV (Colombia‚Äôs largest television network) and first aired in late January 2016 in Colombia, La Esclava Blanca was transmitted to a larger Spanish-language audience in the United States via Telemundo in April. In contrast to Brazil‚Äôs longer history of telenovelas (soap operas) set during the time of slavery (see, for example, Greg Childs‚Äôs AAIHS piece on A Escrava Isaura), La Esclava Blanca is actually the first telenovela about slavery in the history of Colombia. Yet, as reflected in the title of the telenovela (The White Slave), the show engages in a violent historical revisionism by centering the fantastical travails of a white woman who ostensibly holds the key of freedom for the region‚Äôs enslaved…

Read the entire article here.

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