Tracking the First Americans

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Mexico on 2015-01-11 00:25Z by Steven

Tracking the First Americans

National Geographic
January 2015

Glenn Hodges, Staff Writer

New finds, theories, and genetic discoveries are revolutionizing our understanding of the first Americans.

The first face of the first Americans belongs to an unlucky teenage girl who fell to her death in a Yucatán cave some 12,000 to 13,000 years ago. Her bad luck is science’s good fortune. The story of her discovery begins in 2007, when a team of Mexican divers led by Alberto Nava made a startling find: an immense submerged cavern they named Hoyo Negro, the “black hole.” At the bottom of the abyss their lights revealed a bed of prehistoric bones, including at least one nearly complete human skeleton.


Photograph by Paul Nicklen.  Set upside down to keep its teeth in place, the skull of a young woman found in an underwater cave in Mexico has put a face on the New World’s first inhabitants.

Nava reported the discovery to Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, which brought together an international team of archaeologists and other researchers to investigate the cave and its contents. The skeleton—affectionately dubbed Naia, after the water nymphs of Greek mythology—turned out to be one of the oldest ever found in the Americas, and the earliest one intact enough to provide a foundation for a facial reconstruction. Geneticists were even able to extract a sample of DNA.


Photograph by Timothy Archibald. Re-Creation: James Chatters, Applied Paleoscience; Tom McClelland.  Divers who discovered her bones named her Naia. A facial reconstruction reveals that the first Americans didn’t look much like later Native Americans, though genetic evidence confirms their common ancestry.

Together these remnants may help explain an enduring mystery about the peopling of the Americas: If Native Americans are descendants of Asian trailblazers who migrated into the Americas toward the end of the last ice age, why don’t they look like their ancient ancestors?

Read the entire article here.

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Naia Reborn: See the Surprising Face of a First American

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Mexico, Native Americans/First Nation on 2015-01-10 23:59Z by Steven

Naia Reborn: See the Surprising Face of a First American

NBC News
2015-01-05

Alan Boyle, Digital’s Science Editor


Timothy Archibald / National Geographic

Researchers and artists have reconstructed the face of a teenage girl who lived 12,000 years ago in Mexico, and it’s not the kind of face a person might typically associate with Native Americans.

The remains of the girl, nicknamed Naia (after the Greek term for a water nymph), were recovered from an underwater cave on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Naia is regarded as one of the earliest known residents of the Americas — but her skull has a shape associated with African or South Pacific populations rather than the typical Siberian look.

Despite that different look, researchers say Naia is genetically related to Native Americans who came to America later, from Siberia via the Beringia land bridge

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In Memoriam: María Elena Martínez-López, 47

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Mexico, United States on 2014-12-14 22:22Z by Steven

In Memoriam: María Elena Martínez-López, 47

University of Southern California
News
2014-11-20

Susan Bell, Senior Writer
(213) 740-7894

María Elena Martínez-López, associate professor of history and American studies and ethnicity at USC Dornsife and a leading scholar of colonial Latin America has died. She was 47.

Martínez-López died at home in Los Angeles, surrounded by family and close friends on Nov. 16 after being diagnosed with cancer in late May.

“Professor Martínez-López was a brilliant scholar of Spanish American and colonial Mexican history,” said William Deverell, professor and chair of history, and director of the USC-Huntington Institute on California and the West at USC Dornsife. “Her historical insights on race, conquest and religion garnered richly deserved awards and praise, and her dedication to scholarship and her students was exemplary. We will miss her terribly.”

Martínez-López joined USC Dornsife in 2001. Her work focused on colonial Mexico, the cultural connections between Spain and the Americas, and more generally the formation of the Iberian Atlantic world. She taught courses on Latin American history, slavery in the Atlantic world, early modern religion and race, and gender and sexuality in Spanish America…

…While at USC Dornsife, she published a number of articles on space, religion, gender and race in New Spain. Her groundbreaking book Genealogical Fictions: Limpieza de Sangre, Religion, and Gender in Colonial Mexico (Stanford University Press, 2008) reinterpreted the historical foundations of race. It received the American Historical Association’s 2009 James A. Rawley Prize in Atlantic History and the American Historical Association’s Conference on Latin American History’s prize for the best book on Mexican history.

Most recently she was working on the relationship of Spanish colonial law and indigenous “genealogical histories” in central Mexico as well as on science and theories of race and sex in the 18th century Spanish Atlantic world.

She had been conducting extensive research in Mexican, Spanish and U.S. archives for her new book titled The Enlightened Creole Science of Race and Sex: Naturalizing the Body in the Eighteenth-Century Spanish Atlantic World.This was intended to be an extension of her first book about ideas of blood purity and race in the early-modern Spanish Atlantic world, examining how religion provided the epistemological foundations for racial discourses in Spain and colonial Mexico…

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Class, Race, or Ethnicity Apart? Changing Whiteness and Counting People of Mexican Descent

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, History, Latino Studies, Law, Mexico, Social Science, United States on 2014-12-09 01:55Z by Steven

Class, Race, or Ethnicity Apart? Changing Whiteness and Counting People of Mexican Descent

U.S. History Scene
2013-10-09

Ester Terry
University of Pittsburgh

In June 2013, Sebastien de la Cruz sang the National Anthem for Games 3 and 4 of the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals in San Antonio. In July 2013, Marc Anthony sang “God Bless America” at the Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star Game. Both de la Cruz and Anthony are U.S. citizens; the family of de la Cruz descends from México, and Marc Anthony’s family from Puerto Rico. Social media backlash labeled both of them Mexican and indicated neither belonged as U.S. nationals. The United States Census currently categorizes both performers as ‘Hispanic/Latino.’…

…This heated debate over who ‘belongs’ to the United States, who is worthy of being called American, shows a longstanding contention over geography and history, race and national belonging. México, after all, once included the present-day southwestern United States. Before Mexican independence, imperial Spain claimed these lands. And before that, the indigenous peoples of Anáhuac, Mogollon, and Diné.

Neither Marc Anthony nor Sebastien de la Cruz is a Mexican national, even though the backlash pejoratively labeled them as such. The usage of Mexican in the backlash could refer to nationality or to race. Twentieth century battles over racialized school segregation policies and U.S. Census categories reveal an equally contentious history fought by people of Mexican descent over race and national belonging…

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Honduran held in Mexican jail returns home

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Law, Live Events, Media Archive, Mexico, United States on 2014-11-09 20:35Z by Steven

Honduran held in Mexican jail returns home

BBC News
2014-11-08

A Honduran migrant who was jailed for more than five years by Mexican police is expected to arrive in his home country on Sunday.

Angel Amilcar Colon Quevedo belongs to the Garifuna community, descended from African slaves and indigenous groups.

He was picked up in 2009 by police in Tijuana in Mexico as he tried to across the border into the United States.

Human rights organisations say Mr Colon was tortured and detained on the basis of his ethnicity.

Mr Colon was released in mid-October but stayed on in Mexico to publicise the treatment he had received.

International human rights organisations worked alongside local rights campaigners to release him.

“I am an example of thousands of people who are in jail today and who do not have anyone defending them.” said Mr Colon…

…The Garifuna

The black communities living on the Caribbean coast of Central America are commonly called Garifuna or Black Carib, or as they refer to themselves, Garinagu.

Over the last three centuries, in spite of many migrations, re-settlements and interactions with Indians, British, French and Spanish, they have preserved much of the culture from their two main branches of ancestry.

The Garinagu are the descendants of Caribs Indians and Black African slaves. The Caribs were originally indigenous peoples from South America…

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Mestizo Genomics: Race Mixture, Nation, and Science in Latin America

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Mexico on 2014-11-09 17:49Z by Steven

Mestizo Genomics: Race Mixture, Nation, and Science in Latin America

Duke University Press
April 2014
320 pages
4 photos, 2 tables, 6 figures
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5648-6
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8223-5659-2

Edited by:

Peter Wade, Professor of Social Anthropology
University of Manchester

Carlos López Beltrán, Researcher
Instituto de Investigaciones Filosóficas, Coyoacán, México, D.F.

Eduardo Restrepo
Universidad Javeriana, Estudios Culturales

Ricardo Ventura Santos
Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública
Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)

In genetics laboratories in Latin America, scientists have been mapping the genomes of local populations, seeking to locate the genetic basis of complex diseases and to trace population histories. As part of their work, geneticists often calculate the European, African, and Amerindian genetic ancestry of populations. Some researchers explicitly connect their findings to questions of national identity and racial and ethnic difference, bringing their research to bear on issues of politics and identity.

Based on ethnographic research in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico, the contributors to Mestizo Genomics explore how the concepts of race, ethnicity, nation, and gender enter into and are affected by genomic research. In Latin America, national identities are often based on ideas about mestizaje (race mixture), rather than racial division. Since mestizaje is said to involve relations between European men and indigenous or African women, gender is a key factor in Latin American genomics and the analyses in this book. Also important are links between contemporary genomics and recent moves toward official multiculturalism in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico. One of the first studies of its kind, Mestizo Genomics sheds new light on the interrelations between “race,” identity, and genomics in Latin America.

Contributors: Adriana Díaz del Castillo H., Roosbelinda Cárdenas, Vivette García Deister, Verlan Valle Gaspar Neto, Michael Kent, Carlos López Beltrán, María Fernanda Olarte Sierra, Eduardo Restrepo, Mariana Rios Sandoval, Ernesto Schwartz-Marín, Ricardo Ventura Santos, Peter Wade

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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—the fruit of the multiyear Project on Ethnicity and Race in Latin America (PERLA)—is 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’s 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—a 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. ¿El 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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Parsing Race and Blackness in Mexico

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Mexico, Social Science on 2014-10-30 16:02Z by Steven

Parsing Race and Blackness in Mexico

Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews
Volume 43, Number 6 (November 2014)
pages 816-820
DOI: 10.1177/0094306114553216a

Enid Logan, Associate Professor of Sociology
University of Minnesota

Land of the Cosmic Race: Race Mixture, Racism, and Blackness in Mexico, by Christina A. Sue  Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2013. 234pp. $24.95 paper. ISBN: 9780199925506.

In Land of the Cosmic Race, Christina Sue offers an ambitious, data-rich ethnography set in the “blackest” area of Mexico: the port city of Veracruz. She asks how the local population understands and negotiates racial and national identity, and in particular, how they make sense of the tricky issue of blackness in Mexico. Sue is one of a comparatively small number of sociologists who study race relations in Latin America, as most scholarship in this area has come from the fields of anthropology and history. Though the study is grounded in Veracruz, Sue’s larger intent is to analyze racial dynamics in contemporary Mexico writ large.

Sue “centralizes the racial common sense” of Mexican mestizos, a population that she estimates to comprise up to 90 percent of the total (p. 6). Mestizo is a broad category including anyone of “mixed-race” ancestry: Spanish, indigenous, or African. And in large part because Mexico defines itself as a mestizo nation, almost everyone in Mexico identifies as mestizo as well. Within the broad racial category of mestizo, Sue states, there are crucial distinctions of color, which are too often ignored. She sets out to analyze these distinctions in her study.

She writes that Mexican mestizos negotiate the dynamics of race and color in “an ideological terrain littered with contradiction” (p. 18). While elite ideology asserts that racism in Mexico is non-existent, implies that there are no blacks in Mexico, and is officially celebratory of race-mixing (or mestizaje), the lived experiences of most Mexicans, Sue claims, are “replete” with contradictory attitudes and events (p. 5). Sue uncovers in her research a general distaste for intercolor relationships from the point of view of those whose racial capital they would degrade, a clear aesthetic preference for whiteness, and a wealth of strongly-held negative beliefs about blacks and…

Read or purchase the review here.

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Negro? Prieto? Moreno? A Question of Identity for Black Mexicans

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Social Science on 2014-10-26 17:33Z by Steven

Negro? Prieto? Moreno? A Question of Identity for Black Mexicans

The New York Times
2014-10-25

Randal C. Archibold, Bureau Chief for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean

JOSÉ MARÍA MORELOS, Mexico — Hernán Reyes calls himself “negro” — black — plain and simple.

After some thought, Elda Mayren decides she is “Afromexicana,” or African-Mexican.

Candido Escuen, a 58-year-old papaya farmer, is not quite sure what word to use, but he knows he is not mestizo, or mixed white and native Indian, which is how most Mexicans describe themselves.

“Prieto,” or dark, “is what a lot of people call me,” he said.

This isolated village is named for an independence hero, thought to have had black ancestors, who helped abolish slavery in Mexico. It lies in the rugged hills of southwestern Mexico, among a smattering of towns and hamlets that have long embraced a heritage from African slaves who were brought here to work in mines and on sugar plantations in the 16th century.

Just how many people are willing to share that pride may soon be put to the test as Mexico moves to do something it has not attempted in decades and never on its modern census: ask people if they consider themselves black.

Or Afromexican. Or “moreno,” “mascogo,” “jarocho,” or “costeño” — some of the other terms sometimes used to describe black Mexicans.

What term or terms to use is not just a matter of personal and societal debate, but a longstanding dilemma that the government is hoping finally to resolve…

Read the entire article and view the slide show here.

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Student Blog: Why questioning the existence of Afro-Mexicans is problematic

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Mexico, Social Science on 2014-10-05 21:18Z by Steven

Student Blog: Why questioning the existence of Afro-Mexicans is problematic

Baker Institute Blog
Insight and analysis from the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University
2014-08-25

Sharae DeWitt
Rice University, Houston, Texas

Race has been closely tied to Mexican identity since the Mexican Revolution in 1910. The national ideology is centered on mestizaje, referring to the mixing between Spaniards and indigenous peoples. According to this belief, true “Mexicanness” is linked to being mestizo, or someone who is exclusively of Spanish and indigenous descent. Some Mexicans believe in fact that racism in the country has been erased due to the mestizo heritage, but this belief overlooks the exclusion of African heritage and those of African descent living in Mexico from the country’s history and ideology.

Mexican society has all but ignored the historical presence and economic contributions of Africans, despite the fact that Mexico imported about 200,000 African slaves during the colonial period. Throughout Mexico’s history, Africans were viewed as the lowest race within the colonial caste system. Intellectuals and government leaders debated the economic merits and capabilities of Africans. In the end, Afro-Mexicans lost touch with their African roots as the ideal of mestizaje stipulated assimilation, and Mexico’s national identity was built around this concept. The black presence in Mexico was essentially written out of history after the war for independence and during the revolution, with the government only classifying people as white, Indian or mestizo…

Read the entire article here.

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