Comparing Ideologies of Racial Mixing in Latin America: Brazil and Mexico

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Mexico, Social Science on 2019-01-12 01:55Z by Steven

Comparing Ideologies of Racial Mixing in Latin America: Brazil and Mexico

Sociologia & Antropologia
Volume 8, Number 2: (May/August 2018)
pages 427-456
DOI: 10.1590/2238-38752017v824

Graziella Moraes Silva, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Sociology
Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID)
Geneva, Switzerland; Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

Emiko Saldivar, Continuing Lecturer
Department of Anthropology
University of California, Santa Barbara

By the end of the twentieth century, with the rise of multicultural discourses and identity politics, Latin American ideologies of racial mixture had become increasingly denounced as myths that conceal (and thus support) the reproduction of racial inequalities. These studies have largely been guided by comparisons between countries with widespread racial mixing (usually Brazil, Mexico or Colombia) and countries in which it was less encouraged and visible (most commonly, the USA). In this paper we move the focus to the diverse ways in which racial mixture currently impacts racial formations in the Latin America, looking initially at Brazil and Mexico, two of the largest countries in the region, and also those with the largest Afro-descendent and indigenous populations in the continent. For comparison, we analyze survey data from the PERLA project.

INTRODUCTION

Academic interpretations of racial mixing in Latin America, particularly in the North American literature, underwent a radical change during the second half of the twentieth century.1 After World War II, ‚ÄėLatin American miscegenation‚Äô was seen as an alternative to ethnic and racial exclusions that had triggered the Jewish holocaust and had been a source of violent conflicts in the United States during the Jim Crow era and in South African apartheid during the 1950s and 1960s. But by the end of the twentieth century, with the rise of multicultural discourses and identity politics, Latin American ideologies of racial mixture became increasingly denounced as myths that conceal (and thus support) the reproduction of racial inequalities (e.g. De la Cadena, 2000; Hanchard, 1994).

These studies have largely been guided by comparisons between countries with widespread racial mixing (usually Brazil, Mexico or Colombia) and countries in which it was less encouraged and visible (most commonly, the USA). Such comparisons have largely contributed to a better understanding of miscegenation as an ideology that allowed racial inequalities to remain more invisible in the Latin American context throughout most of the twentieth century (e.g. Telles, 2003 and Knight, 1990). More recently, a number of authors have also stressed the influence of Latin American ideas of miscegenation in the transformation of racial inequalities in the United States, a phenomenon that has been labeled the Latin Americanization of American race relations (e.g. Bonilla-Silva, 2004). Exploring this comparison, these studies have usually treated racial mixture as a coherent ideology shared across the region.

In this paper we propose to shift the focus onto the diverse ways in which racial mixture currently impacts racial formations in the region. Empirically, we turn our gaze to Brazil and Mexico, two of the largest countries in Latin America, and also those with the largest Afro-descendant and indigenous populations in the continent. As in most countries in the region, ideologies of racial mixture were instrumental to the construction of their national identity: first as a strategy for whitening (Stepan, 1991) and later as tools for assimilation (e.g. Freyre, 1946, and Gamio, 2010). Today, ideas of racial mixing remain central in both Brazil and Mexico, but racial politics are significantly different. Brazil has increasingly seen black (pretos) and brown (pardos) people join forces to address racial inequalities, arguing that mixed pardos are in similar conditions to blacks. Mexico, by contrast, still advocates the benefits of racial mixture, avoiding the discussion of race and racial inequalities on the grounds that most of the population is mixed.

Our paper unfolds as follows: first we explore the role of racial mixing in the nation building processes in Brazil and Mexico. We emphasize the similarities in the ways in which this idea has been articulated in the two countries historically, but also the important differences, something often overlooked in the literature. Next, turning to PERLA data (presented in our methods section), we discuss how these differences have created distinct perceptions of racial identification in Brazil and Mexico, focusing on three dimensions: (1) the relationship between racial identification and skin color, (2) the relationship between racial mixture and cultural differences, and (3) the impact of racial mixture on ethnoracial inequalities.2 We conclude by stressing the need for more comparative studies between Latin American countries in order to better understand the diversity of mestizaje projects and their differential impacts in the region…

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Pigmentocracies: Ethnicity, Race, and Color in Latin America [Brunsma Review]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science on 2016-01-16 16:27Z by Steven

Pigmentocracies: Ethnicity, Race, and Color in Latin America [Brunsma Review]

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Volume 39, Issue 3, 2016
pages 492-494
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2015.1095308

David L. Brunsma, Professor of Sociology
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia

Pigmentocracies: Ethnicity, Race, and Color in Latin America, by Edward Telles and the Project on Ethnicity and Race in Latin America (PERLA), Chapel Hill, NC, University of North Carolina Press, 2014, 320pp., $29.95 (paperback), ISBN 978-1-4696-1783-1

In the inaugural issue of Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva (2015) in laying out what he saw as the most necessary theoretical developments in the sociology of race and ethnicity wrote:

… racial theory should have been rooted in the experiences of the first peoples who experienced racialization, but that was not the case… Even when Latin American and Caribbean writers have written about race, they have relied mostly on American or European theorizations. We would be in a better explanatory position today to understand not only race in the world system, but even developments in the United States and Europe, if we were to go back and … ‘begin at the beginning’. [r]ooting our racial theory on the historical experiences of the oldest racial regimes in the world. (79)

Those oldest racial regimes are located in present-day Caribbean and Latin American countries. For over five years, the 12 scholars who make up the Project on Ethnicity and Race in Latin America (PERLA) have been working on the conceptualization, pilot studies, and, ultimately, groundbreaking data collection effort to comparatively ‘illuminate how race and ethnicity play out in Latin America’ (31). Edward Telles, eminent sociologist of race and ethnicity at Princeton University in the USA, has coordinated this amazing effort, resulting in Pigmentocracies: Ethnicity, Race, and Color in Latin America. This book begins to fill major gaps in the empirical, and, given time, ultimately, the theoretical development so necessary to understand inequalities and experiences of race and racialization. Equally important, this study introduces researchers in Europe and the USA to a set of scholars and scholarships that have not typically made it into the theoretical and empirical canon of studies of race and ethnicity (e.g. Mexico’s Regina Mart√≠nez Casas, Columbia’s √ďscar Almario, Peru’s Juan Carlos Callirgos, and Brazil’s Graziella Moraes Silva, to name just a few). PERLA, formed in 2008 and concluding data collection by 2013, has given us the first cross-national, representative surveys of race and ethnicity in Latin America‚ÄĒthe sheer scale of the project is breathtaking…

Read or purchase the review here.

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Pigmentocracies: Educational Inequality, Skin Color and Census Ethnoracial Identification in Eight Latin American Countries

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Mexico, Social Science on 2015-02-27 02:28Z by Steven

Pigmentocracies: Educational Inequality, Skin Color and Census Ethnoracial Identification in Eight Latin American Countries

Research in Social Stratification and Mobility
Available online: 2015-02-25
DOI: 10.1016/j.rssm.2015.02.002

Edward Telles, Professor of Sociology
Princeton University

René Flores
University of Washington

Fernando Urrea Giraldo, Professor of Sociology
Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia

Highlights

  • We use two measures of race and ethnicity ‚Äď ethnoracial self-identification as used by national censuses and interviewer ‚Äďrated skin color to examine educational inequality in eight Latin American countries: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru.
  • We find that inequality based on skin color is more consistent and robust than inequality based on census ethnoracial identification.
  • Census ethnoracial identification often provided inconsistent results especially regarding the afro-descendant populations of Colombia, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic.
  • Skin color inequality was particularly great in Bolivia and Guatemala.
  • Parental occupation, a proxy for class origins, is also robust and positively associated with educational attainment.
  • In other words, both class and race, especially as measured by skin color, predicts educational inequality in Latin America.

For the first time, most Latin American censuses ask respondents to self-identify by race or ethnicity allowing researchers to examine long-ignored ethnoracial inequalities. However, reliance on census ethnoracial categories could poorly capture the manifestation(s) of race that lead to inequality in the region, because of classificatory ambiguity and within-category racial or color heterogeneity. To overcome this, we modeled the relation of both interviewer-rated skin color and census ethnoracial categories with educational inequality using innovative data from the 2010 America’s Barometer from the Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) and 2010 surveys from the Project on Ethnicity and Race in Latin America (PERLA) for eight Latin American countries (Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru). We found that darker skin color was negatively and consistently related to schooling in all countries, with and without extensive controls. Indigenous and black self-identification was also negatively related to schooling, though not always at a statistically significant and robust level like skin color. In contrast, results for self-identified mulattos, mestizos and whites were inconsistent and often counter to the expected racial hierarchy, suggesting that skin color measures often capture racial inequalities that census measures miss.

Read the entire article here.

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Pigmentocracies: Ethnicity, Race, and Color in Latin America

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Economics, History, Mexico, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, Social Science on 2014-11-07 19:07Z by Steven

Pigmentocracies: Ethnicity, Race, and Color in Latin America

University of North Carolina Press
October 2014
320 pages
59 figs., 4 maps, 23 tables, notes, bibl., index
6.125 x 9.25
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4696-1783-1

Edward E. Telles, Professor of Sociology
Princeton University

and

The Project on Ethnicity and Race in Latin America (PERLA)
Princeton University

Pigmentocracies‚ÄĒthe fruit of the multiyear Project on Ethnicity and Race in Latin America (PERLA)‚ÄĒis a richly revealing analysis of contemporary attitudes toward ethnicity and race in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru, four of Latin America’s most populous nations. Based on extensive, original sociological and anthropological data generated by PERLA, this landmark study analyzes ethnoracial classification, inequality, and discrimination, as well as public opinion about Afro-descended and indigenous social movements and policies that foster greater social inclusiveness, all set within an ethnoracial history of each country. A once-in-a-generation examination of contemporary ethnicity, this book promises to contribute in significant ways to policymaking and public opinion in Latin America.

Edward Telles, PERLA’s principal investigator, explains that profound historical and political forces, including multiculturalism, have helped to shape the formation of ethnic identities and the nature of social relations within and across nations. One of Pigmentocracies‚Äôs many important conclusions is that unequal social and economic status is at least as much a function of skin color as of ethnoracial identification. Investigators also found high rates of discrimination by color and ethnicity widely reported by both targets and witnesses. Still, substantial support across countries was found for multicultural-affirmative policies‚ÄĒa notable result given that in much of modern Latin America race and ethnicity have been downplayed or ignored as key factors despite their importance for earlier nation-building.

Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • 1. The Project on Ethnicity and Race in Latin America (PERLA): Hard Data and What Is at Stake
  • 2. The Different Faces of Mestizaje: Ethnicity and Race in Mexico
  • 3. From Whitened Miscegenation to Triethnic Multiculturalism: Race and Ethnicity in Columbia
  • 4. ¬ŅEl pals de todas las sangres? Race and Ethnicity in Contemporary Peru
  • 5. Mixed and Unequal: New Perspectives on Brazilian Ethnoracial Relations
  • 6. A Comparative Analysis of Ethnicity, Race, and Color Based on PERLA Findings
  • Notes
  • References
  • About the Authors
  • Index
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Beyond Fixed or Fluid: Degrees of Fluidity in Racial Identification in Latin America

Posted in Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Papers/Presentations, Social Science on 2012-05-25 23:05Z by Steven

Beyond Fixed or Fluid: Degrees of Fluidity in Racial Identification in Latin America

The Project on Ethnicity and Race in Latin America
Princeton University
2012-05-23
60 pages

Edward E. Telles, Professor of Sociology
Princeton University

Tianna S. Paschel, Post Doctoral Fellow (Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Political Science as of July 2012)
Department of Political Science
University of Chicago

Com­par­a­tive research on race and eth­nic­ity has often turned to Latin Amer­ica where racial iden­tity is seen as fluid. Using nation­ally rep­re­sen­ta­tive data from the 2010 America’s Barom­e­ter, we exam­ined the extent to which skin color, nation, class and region shape who iden­ti­fies as black or mulato in Brazil, Costa Rica, Panama, Colom­bia and the Domini­can Repub­lic. While racial cat­e­gories over­lap sig­nif­i­cantly, skin color largely deter­mines both black and mulatto self-identification in all five coun­tries although its effect varies con­sid­er­ably. We dis­cov­ered dis­tinc­tive pat­terns in racial flu­id­ity, in how color shapes racial clas­si­fi­ca­tion, in the fre­quency of black and mixed-race cat­e­gories, and in the influ­ence of sta­tus and region on racial clas­si­fi­ca­tion. We sug­gest that these pat­terns are related to nation­al­ist nar­ra­tives, state poli­cies and black move­ment orga­niz­ing. These find­ings chal­lenge widely held assump­tions about race rela­tions in Latin Amer­ica, sug­gest­ing rather that unique national his­to­ries have given way to dif­fer­ent sys­tems of race clas­si­fi­ca­tion in each coun­try. We advance the con­cept of racial schemas and vis­cos­ity to bet­ter under­stand these differences.

Read the entire paper here.

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