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 Martínez Casas, Columbia’s Óscar 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—the sheer scale of the project is breathtaking…

Read or purchase the review here.

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