Mestizaje in the Age of Fascism: German and Q’eqchi’ Maya Interracial Unions in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, Media Archive on 2016-05-20 21:30Z by Steven

Mestizaje in the Age of Fascism: German and Q’eqchi’ Maya Interracial Unions in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala

German History
Volume 34, Issue 2 (June 2016)
pages 214-236
DOI: 10.1093/gerhis/ghw017

Julie Gibbings, Assistant Professor of History
University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

In contemporary Guatemala, Q’eqchi’ Mayas of German descent are reclaiming identities as ‘the improved race’ (la raza mejorada), which allows them claim both tradition and authenticity as well as racial whiteness and modernity. While surprising to contemporary observers, these identities have longer histories, rooted in the interwar period, when Guatemalan urban intellectuals and statesmen looked to German-Maya sexual unions as the racial solution to Guatemala’s failure to forge a modern and homogenous nation. Like national racial mixing (mestizaje) projects found in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America, Guatemalan intellectuals in the 1920s and 1930s argued that racial mixing with Anglo-Saxons led not to racial degeneration, but—potentially—to new and more vital races. While long ignored by historical scholarship, hybrid Q’eqchi’-Germans, however, unravel a priori assumptions of German diasporic political and social insularity. By examining the potent symbolic and cultural dimensions Guatemala’s unique mestizaje project had for the formation of both German and Guatemalan nationalist projects during the rise of German National Socialism and Guatemala’s own populist dictatorship under President Jorge Ubico (1931–1944), this article argues for an understanding of German diasporas in Latin America that places them squarely in the transnational space between competing nationalisms and political agendas. By further examining the important material and social dimensions of mixed-race families, this article reveals the crucial ties Germans forged in Latin America and how who counted as German and by what measure was a subject of considerable debate with important political consequences.

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Germans Loving Others: Narrating Interracial Romance in Kenya, North America, and Guatemala

Posted in Africa, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, Forthcoming Media, History, Live Events, Native Americans/First Nation, Papers/Presentations on 2012-11-23 02:02Z by Steven

Germans Loving Others: Narrating Interracial Romance in Kenya, North America, and Guatemala

127th Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association
New Orleans, Louisiana
2013-01-03 through 2013-01-06

AHA Session 70: Central European History Society 3
Friday, 2013-01-04: 08:30-10:00 CST (Local Time)
Chamber Ballroom II (Roosevelt New Orleans)

Chair: Andrew Zimmerman, George Washington University


Comment: Lora Wildenthal, Rice University

The German fascination with the non-European world and its native populations, as documented and imagined in various forms of the German cultural archive, presents intriguing questions for scholars of race, sex, and empire. The German love affair with natives, including North American Indians, Bedouin nomads, and Masai warriors, dates back to the early days of colonial expansion, and gave rise to romanticized representations and staged performances of native nobility and ethnic pride. These cultural representations produced sentiments and desires that shaped contact and conduct as Germans sought out and stumbled upon native peoples abroad. While scholarship of the past two decades has explored a wide range of political, economic, and cultural aspects of the colonial and postcolonial encounter, interracial contact has received less attention. Scholars have given short shrift to the stunning array of unofficial, personal, and often quite intimate interconnections between Germans and non-Europeans during the modern era.

The proposed panel addresses this lacuna in scholarship, and focuses on the question of whether interracial love subverts or replicates the colonial and postcolonial histories that produced socio-economic inequalities, gendered norms, and racial hierarchies. The papers in this panel explore these questions through the lives, narratives, and memories of Germans, native peoples, and mixed-race children in three vastly different places: postcolonial Kenya, North America, and Guatemala. They collectively challenge and problematize assumptions of colonial and postcolonial scholars about the regulatory norms of interracial sex that shielded white female sexuality from dark, colonized men and often made interracial children the subject of state scrutiny and care. The papers demonstrate how German romance with natives could, in practice, vary widely across historical and geographical contexts, particularly with regard to cultural, economic, and political dimensions of these relationships. Finally, the papers consider the agency of the non-German partners in these interracial and binational relationships. The panels intends to shed new light on interracial and binational romance by probing questions of power and inequality in a comparative and transnational framework.

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