Open Auditions for Casta by Adrienne Dawes

Posted in Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, Latino Studies, United States on 2019-03-15 17:34Z by Steven

Open Auditions for Casta by Adrienne Dawes

Dougherty Arts Center
1110 Barton Springs Road
Austin, Texas 78704
Telephone: (512) 974-4000
Tuesday, 2019-03-19 17:00-22:00 CDT (Local Time)

Salvage Vanguard Theater's photo.

Salvage Vanguard Theater announces open auditions for the world premiere of Casta by Adrienne Dawes. Casta will be directed by Jenny Larson and feature music by Graham Reynolds.

Casta is inspired by a series of casta paintings by Miguel Cabrera, a mixed-race painter from Oaxaca. Casta paintings were a unique form of portraiture that grew in popularity over the 18th century in Nueva España/colonial Mexico. The paintings depicted different racial mixtures arranged according to a hierarchy defined by Spanish elites. When a lowly apprentice is commissioned to paint a casta series for a wealthy patron, he tries to conform his work to a set hierarchy. The images revolt, illuminating a complex portrait of fluid Latinx identities.

For more information, click here.

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Guest Post: A View from the Past: The Contingencies of Racialization in 15th- and 16th-Century Iberia

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, History on 2016-12-12 22:18Z by Steven

Guest Post: A View from the Past: The Contingencies of Racialization in 15th- and 16th-Century Iberia

The Junto: A Group Blog on Early American History
2016-12-12

Marley-Vincent Lindsey
Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island

When Paul Gilroy wrote his now-classic critique of cultural nationalism in 1995, he conceived a Black Atlantic that was a geo-political amalgamation of Africa, America, the Caribbean, and Europe. Gilroy was particularly interested in the construction of a modern, post-colonial cultural space in which slavery remained a part of modern black consciousness. His book is particularly noted for the introduction of race as a critical consideration in exploring the Black Atlantic.

It is fitting then, that we kick off our week-long discussion of the Black Atlantic with a post by Marley-Vincent Lindsey, which explores considerations of race in the Iberian Atlantic. Subsequent posts will consider Black responses to freedom (and unfreedom), historical narrative, race, and of course, power.

Juan Garrido was a typical conquistador: arriving in Hispaniola by 1508, Garrido accompanied Juan Ponce de León in his invasion of Puerto Rico, and was later found with Hernan Cortés in Mexico City. Yet his proofs of service, a portion of which was printed by Francisco Icaza in a collection of autobiographies by the conquistadors and settlers of New Spain, made a unique note: de color negro, or “of Black color.”1

What significance was the color of his skin? From our crystal ball of future development, the answer is obvious: Spain had developed a particularly unique concern for racializing individuals, and the Iberian excursions throughout the western and southern coasts of Africa added fuel for “hardening identities” of what was significant about being Black or White. This unique historical contingency, argued James Sweet, was the genesis for American conceptions of race.2

Supporting this construction is the intuitive power of 1492, when Columbus invaded the ocean blue. Iberia’s box score for the year also included the seizure of Granada and the expulsion of Jews who refused conversion. For the century prior, there existed a rich vocabulary through which differences of religion were literally racialized: by 1611, Corrubias’ Spanish dictionary defined raza in reference to humans as being bad lineage, like Jewish or Muslim ancestry. Medievalists like David Nirenberg have traced these discourses through which raza gained biological potency through Castilian and Aragonese experiences with Jews and Moors.3

Read the entire article here.

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Géneros de Gente in Early Colonial Mexico: Defining Racial Difference

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Law, Media Archive, Mexico, Monographs on 2016-10-22 20:04Z by Steven

Géneros de Gente in Early Colonial Mexico: Defining Racial Difference

University of Oklahoma Press
2016-10-20
304 pages
Illustrations: 3 b&w illus., 2 maps, 18 tables
6″ x 9″
Hardcover ISBN: 9780806154879

Robert C. Schwaller, Assistant Professor of History
University of Kansas, Lawrence

On December 19, 1554, the members of Tenochtitlan’s indigenous cabildo, or city council, petitioned Emperor Charles V of Spain for administrative changes “to save us from any Spaniard, mestizo, black, or mulato afflicting us in the marketplace, on the roads, in the canal, or in our homes.” Within thirty years of the conquest, the presence of these groups in New Spain was large enough to threaten the social, economic, and cultural order of the indigenous elite. In Géneros de Gente in Early Colonial Mexico, an ambitious rereading of colonial history, Robert C. Schwaller proposes using the Spanish term géneros de gente (types or categories of people) as part of a more nuanced perspective on what these categories of difference meant and how they evolved. His work revises our understanding of racial hierarchy in Mexico, the repercussions of which reach into the present.

Schwaller traces the connections between medieval Iberian ideas of difference and the unique societies forged in the Americas. He analyzes the ideological and legal development of géneros de gente into a system that began to resemble modern notions of race. He then examines the lives of early colonial mestizos and mulatos to show how individuals of mixed ancestry experienced the colonial order. By pairing an analysis of legal codes with a social history of mixed-race individuals, his work reveals the disjunction between the establishment of a common colonial language of what would become race and the ability of the colonial Spanish state to enforce such distinctions. Even as the colonial order established a system of governance that entrenched racial differences, colonial subjects continued to mediate their racial identities through social networks, cultural affinities, occupation, and residence.

Presenting a more complex picture of the ways difference came to be defined in colonial Mexico, this book exposes important tensions within Spanish colonialism and the developing social order. It affords a significant new view of the development and social experience of race—in early colonial Mexico and afterward.

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Calidad, Genealogy, and Disputed Free-colored Tributary Status in New Spain

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico on 2016-07-04 18:35Z by Steven

Calidad, Genealogy, and Disputed Free-colored Tributary Status in New Spain

The Americas
Volume 73, Number 2, April 2016
pages 139-170

Norah Andrews, Assistant Professor of World History
Georgian Court University, Lakewood, New Jersey

In 1787, a group of Indians from the town of Almoloya, part of Apan in the Intendancy of Mexico, aired their grievances against several prominent local leaders. The petitioners claimed that their predominantly Indian community was plagued by a group of free-colored people who were masquerading as Indian nobles, or caciques, and enjoying privileges to which only those with noble lineage were entitled. One of these was exemption from the economically onerous and socially stigmatized royal tribute that had symbolized the relationship between the Spanish monarch and free-colored subjects since the sixteenth century.

To prove that the suspected were indeed tributaries, those lodging the complaint turned to lineage. They named more than a dozen people who lived as caciques, adding that those same individuals were “mixed with blacks and mulatos and should be registered and pay tribute with those of that class.” Despite their attempts to fashion themselves into caciques, the accused families had not erased from communal memory the occupations, castes, and places of origin of various ancestors, all of which could determine reputation, or calidad. Members of the Sánchez family, the petition claimed, were “grandchildren of a negro shoemaker called Martín.” The Granillos were “descendants of Juan Granillo, married to a known mulata servant.” The list of possible free-coloreds was exhaustive.

These “notorious mulatos” had gained exemptions awarded by the Spanish monarchy to Tlaxcalans who had served in Spanish conquests more than two and a half centuries before. Throughout the colonial period, descendants of Tlaxcalans could claim exemption from the tribute and other taxes, as well as land rights and a legal status distinct from those of free-coloreds and other Indians. This concern with the mixture of Indian and African blood resonated where Tlaxcalan, Nahua, or other Indian groups enjoyed place- and genealogy-specific tribute privileges. Apan bordered Tlaxcala, making the presence of Tlaxcalans in Almoloya entirely feasible. But to preserve such a status, the complainants reasoned, the Tlaxcalans should have pursued marital unions that preserved a lineage “without degeneration from the class of Indians or mestizos de españoles,” a caste category specifying a Spanish father and an Indian mother. How, wondered the Almoloya petitioners, could people with a publicly reputed line of free-colored ancestors possibly prove a Tlaxcalan genealogy?

The “pure Indians” of Almoloya, as they called themselves in their initial petition and subsequent documents, relied on genealogy to stake their claims. The petitioners upheld proof of ancestry as a prerequisite for exercising privileges, a legal argument favored by Indian elites at the time. The use of the term “degeneración” in the petition drew on an older rhetoric of purity as well as hereditary concepts that would become popular in the nineteenth century. The repeated references to the “mixed nature” and “inferior calidad” of these individuals undermined their authority as caciques. Indeed, cacique status was predicated on publicly regarded and written genealogies. These ideas rested on the genealogical concept of limpieza de sangre, or blood purity, which had risen to prominence as a form of communal memory following mass conversions of Jews in medieval Iberia. In New Spain, limpieza de sangre would evolve to equate genealogical impurity with the presence of African ancestry as well. Pitting the idea of an inferior, mixed, and mulato calidad against Indian purity, the petitioners used the language of genealogy to upend local hierarchies.

The case of Almoloya shows the prominent place genealogy took in disputes involving local privileges, rivalries, and migration from the 1780s to the 1800s. Ordinary people who engaged in those disputes were well aware of it. In Almoloya’s surrounding jurisdiction, between 1781 and 1788 the number of mulato tributaries nearly doubled, while the number of Indian tributaries dropped by 10 percent. On a register made at the end of the year 1800, no caciques were listed at all, though 407 Indians and 21 mulatos were registered as reserved from payment. The Almoloya caciques failed to prove their genealogy and thus became (or had always been, in…

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From Chains to Chiles: An Elite Afro-Indigenous Couple in Colonial Mexico, 1641–1688

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico on 2015-05-05 01:25Z by Steven

From Chains to Chiles: An Elite Afro-Indigenous Couple in Colonial Mexico, 1641–1688

Ethnohistory
Volume 62, Number 2, April 2015
pages 361-384
DOI: 10.1215/00141801-2854356

Pablo Miguel Sierra Silva, Assistant Professor of History
University of Rochester

This article explores the life of an elite Afro-indigenous couple in the city of Puebla de los Ángeles during the seventeenth century. Through the study of a freedman, Felipe Monsón y Mojica, and his indigenous wife, Juana María de la Cruz, I propose a new approach to the study of the African diaspora in the urban centers of New Spain (colonial Mexico). By combining an extensive corpus of notarial, judicial, and parochial records with isolated references to Puebla’s Nahuatl-language annals, this article also sheds light on city-dwelling native women who married enslaved men. I argue that formal unions of this type held enormous social, political, and commercial potential for Afro-indigenous couples to emerge as new political actors and urban patrons. In particular, the Monsón de la Cruz household rose to a position of preeminence in pardo religious and military corporations through commerce in indigenous agricultural products.

Read or purchase the article here.

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