Degrees of Mixture, Degrees of Freedom: Genomics, Multiculturalism, and Race in Latin America

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Mexico, Monographs, Social Science on 2017-01-17 01:03Z by Steven

Degrees of Mixture, Degrees of Freedom: Genomics, Multiculturalism, and Race in Latin America

Duke University Press
2017-05-05
328 pages
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6358-3
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8223-6373-6
12 illustrations

Peter Wade, Professor of Social Anthropology
University of Manchester

Race mixture, or mestizaje, has played a critical role in the history, culture, and politics of Latin America. In Degrees of Mixture, Degrees of Freedom, Peter Wade draws on a multidisciplinary research study in Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia. He shows how Latin American elites and outside observers have emphasized mixture’s democratizing potential, depicting it as a useful resource for addressing problems of racism (claiming that race mixture undoes racial difference and hierarchy), while Latin American scientists participate in this narrative with claims that genetic studies of mestizos can help isolate genetic contributors to diabetes and obesity and improve health for all. Wade argues that, in the process, genomics produces biologized versions of racialized difference within the nation and the region, but a comparative approach nuances the simple idea that highly racialized societies give rise to highly racialized genomics. Wade examines the tensions between mixture and purity, and between equality and hierarchy in liberal political orders, exploring how ideas and scientific data about genetic mixture are produced and circulate through complex networks.

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Interview with Scenters-Zapico

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Interviews, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Mexico, United States on 2017-01-16 20:53Z by Steven

Interview with Scenters-Zapico

As Us
Issue 2 (December 2015)

Casandra Lopez, Co-Founder, Editor-in-Chief

“As a poet, I’m interested in what art can be created from the anxieties of being from such a place. What can we create from these experiences? I’m a poet, not a rhetorician—it’s not my place to tell you as a reader how best to interpret the world. I want to write about the things that keep me longing and the things that keep me up at night.”

[Casandra Lopez]1. Having read some of your work in workshop I was delighted to read your full manuscript. Can you describe what your manuscript is about. I am particularly interested in hearing about the “twin” element that is prevalent in many of your poems and how place functions in your work.

[Natalie Scenters-Zapico] On a literal level this manuscript is about where I am from, the sister cities of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, México. It stems from a place of longing for where I am from, both what it is and what it used to be. They are poems about immigration, language, pollution, brutality against women and men, war, love, marriage, weddings, and the hybrid sense of these things that exists in these two cities. The metaphor of the cities being twins runs throughout the manuscript. El Paso and Cd. Juárez were one city, El Paso del Norte, that was then divided by the river into the U.S. and México leaving them forever in a state of longing for each other. In the manuscript, this longing manifests itself in a variety of ways and I became interested in how twins can feel a connection that is beyond that of regular siblings. I also liked that I could write about a relationship between a set of twins and only hint that they might be cities….

[CL]2. Can you talk a little about how you identify both as a poet and as an individual. How or in what ways to do think these identities influence your writing and topics you choose to explore in your work.

[NSZ] This is a very interesting question for me, mainly because I have such a hybrid identity and experience. My father is Anglo, from Wisconsin, and my mother is from Asturias, Spain. My mother came to the U.S. in her twenties after falling in love with my father. I grew up in a fully bi-lingual household, in a bi-lingual city, El Paso, Texas, and went to a high school at a time when over half of my graduating class was from Cd. Juárez and crossed the bridge every day for school. I also married a Mexican man, who was educated in México and the U.S. and is also bilingual. I grew up surrounded by hybridity and a variety of experience. I grew up where multiplicity was never seen as a positive or negative thing, only a fact of existence on the border. I think that all of these things affect how I identify as an individual and then what my concerns are as a poet…

Read the entire interview here.

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Meet the Afro-Mexicans connecting to their African roots through dance

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico on 2017-01-16 00:11Z by Steven

Meet the Afro-Mexicans connecting to their African roots through dance

Ventures Africa
2017-01-05

Iroegbu Chinaemerem Oti

“Based on your culture, history, and traditions, do you consider yourself Black, meaning Afro-Mexican or Afro-descendant?” – MEXICO’S 2015 Intercensal Survey

The sound of Bata drums filled the air as girls, with printed scarfs tied around their waists and white or yellow dots painted on their faces, danced to the fervent rhythm, their feet and waists moving vigorously at the same time. As their left legs leave the floor, their right legs replace them, while their waists responding with a seesaw movement. This is an African dance performed by an Afro-Mexican group, the Obatala, for the purpose of connecting with their African roots. They live in the southern state of Oaxaca, Mexico and tour various regions of the state to create awareness with their energetic and beautiful dance.

“All the dances are from Africa’s northeastern region, we chose this area because after researching on the internet, we realised that that’s where the slaves that came from our town came from. Our dance troupe did the research and we learned those dances,” Anai Herrera, one of the lead dancers, said…

Read the entire article here.

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A Conversation With Natalie Scenters-Zapico

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Interviews, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Mexico, United States on 2017-01-13 20:52Z by Steven

A Conversation With Natalie Scenters-Zapico

The American Literary Review
2016-03-27

Sebastian Hasani Paramo, Poetry Contest Coordinator

Natalie Scenters-Zapico is from the sister cities of El Paso, Texas, U.S.A. and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, México. She is the author of The Verging Cities, which won the 2016 Great Lakes Colleges Association’s New Writers Award, the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies Tejas FOCO Award, was featured as a top ten debut of 2015 by Poets and Writers, and named a Must-Read Debut by LitHub (Center For Literary Publishing, 2015). A CantoMundo fellow, her poems have appeared in American Poets, The Believer, Prairie Schooner, West Branch, Best American Poetry 2015, and more. She lives with her husband, border rhetorics scholar José Ángel Maldonado, in Salt Lake City.

Scenters-Zapico’s debut collection was recently named a top ten debut by Poets and Writers. Before that, her poetry was featured in American Poets, a publication by The Academy of American Poets, and was introduced by Dana Levin. That issue was my first introduction to her work and I eagerly anticipated her book. Many others have since applauded her aforementioned collection, The Verging Cities. Dana Levin writes that Scenters-Zapico “engages politically and personally charged material…with signature intimacy and fairy-tale strangeness.” In 2015, her book was featured on several top lists and included in Best American Poetry 2015. When I read her collection, I read it eagerly. Her poems in this collection are dark, visceral, haunting, and will echo for days in your mind. Here’s one of the most thought provoking lines in the collection:

I write of the boy I love gone missing, his father found with no teeth
In an abandoned car. Some say you have no right to talk about the dead.
So I talk of them as living, their bodies standing in the street’s bend.

Throughout, she builds and breaks down the boundaries of love, place, identity, and memory in ways that are unexpected, and uses them to great effect to write the political and engage us in the surreal violence of our time. I was fortunate to be able to interview her via email.

Sebastian Hasani Paramo: In reading The Verging Cities, I loved this idea of “verging” and the many forms it took. Your use of the Oxford English Dictionary as a guide for exploring this idea was very incredible. The relationship you created between the speaker and borders seemed to create much tension and conflict. Can you talk about this idea and how it culminates into the title poem?

Natalie Scenters-Zapico: When I started writing about El PasoCd. Juárez just about everyone had a reading list for me to take home. There are so many wonderful writers who have come before me who share the same love affair with the border. And yet, the more I read the more I felt that I had a very different relationship with the border than the ones I saw being described. So, I started talking about the border as verging—the beginning of one thing and the end of another in constant cycle. When I looked up the term “verge” in the OED I was fascinated by its long history and deeply masculine roots. So I set out to write poems that addressed the verging cities—being beaten by them, escaping them, returning to them. By the time we get to the title poem, “The Verging Cities,” I wanted the reader to get a sense that they are in fact one place, only to turn to that poem and hear two distinct voices, one from each city, in an abusive, violent, incestuous relationship. In it I turn to the history of border crossing into El Paso and the use of Zyklon-B, strip searches, etc. I wanted to point to how the use of these things continues. The past and the present are in constant cycle, there is no beginning or end…

SHP: What influences were important for you in writing about identity and what things do you say to young writers about feeling more comfortable writing about themselves? As a younger writer, I felt sometimes I didn’t always see myself in the writers I read, but when I started to–I saw many more possibilities for my writing.

NSZ: As a young writer I often made the mistake of looking for myself in the writing of others. As though, only if they mirrored my identity or experience in some way could I learn something from them. This is a huge, embarrassing mistake on my part. Because how could I, with my hybrid, messy, one could argue “pocha” identity see myself in a piece of literature as a complete mirror reflection? This is impossible. I understand that some people have this “mirror” experience in reading the work of others, but I don’t think I ever will. However, when I stopped looking for a reflection and instead looked for refracted moments, or places where I could feel deep empathy, or ways of dealing with and examining trauma that I could apply to myself that is when I felt I could truly learn.

I also have to give a huge shout out to people who are doing great work when it comes to hybrid identity in our field. I’ll never forget when I was nineteen I went to a reading at the University of Texas at El Paso by Rosa Alcalá in which she read from her amazing collection Undocumentaries. Here was this woman who looked like me, who was bilingual like me, who was willing to call herself Latina, and was questioning our traditional notions of that word. I left that reading nearly in tears, because it felt like she was talking to me, it felt like she was making me see the world in a way that both empowered me and made me question my pain. I don’t think I’ve ever thanked Rosa for that moment, but it changed me deeply.

I also love the work that Rosebud Ben-Oni is doing in advocating for people who don’t fit the mold perfectly, people who question the use of strategic essentialism, whose very existence won’t allow for it because it’s just so damn complicated. And of course, I personally am very interested in liminal spaces, and the art that can come from existing in that space. I wrote more about that in my introduction to the liminal spaces interview series I did for The Best American Poetry blog. I think it’s important to recognize that to be Latinx is to be hybrid. There is no such thing as purity in Latinidad, if you even buy into this very American idea of Latinidad…

Read the entire interview here.

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The Verging Cities, Poetry

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Mexico, Poetry, United States on 2017-01-09 02:02Z by Steven

The Verging Cities, Poetry

Center For Literary Publishing
2015
80 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-885635-43-3
6.5 x 8.5 inches

Natalie Scenters-Zapico

  • Poets and Writers Top Debut Poets 2015
  • Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award
  • NACCS-Tejas Foco Best Poetry Book of 2015

Ninth in the Mountain West Poetry Series, edited by Stephanie G’Schwind & Donald Revell

From undocumented men named Angel, to angels falling from the sky, Natalie Scenters-Zapico’s gripping debut collection, The Verging Cities, is filled with explorations of immigration and marriage, narco-violence and femicide, and angels in the domestic sphere. Deeply rooted along the US-México border in the sister cities of El Paso, Texas, and Cd. Juárez, Chihuahua, these poems give a brave new voice to the ways in which international politics affect the individual. Composed in a variety of forms, from sonnet and epithalamium to endnotes and field notes, each poem distills violent stories of narcos, undocumented immigrants, border patrol agents, and the people who fall in love with each other and their traumas.

The border in Scenters-Zapico’s The Verging Cities exists in a visceral place where the real is (sur)real. In these poems mouths speak suspended from ceilings, numbered metal poles mark the border and lovers’ spines, and cities scream to each other at night through fences that “ooze only silt.” This bold new vision of border life between what has been named the safest city in the United States and the murder capital of the world is in deep conversation with other border poets—Benjamin Alire Saenz, Gloria Anzaldúa, Alberto Ríos, and Luis Alberto Urrea—while establishing itself as a new and haunting interpretation of the border as a verge, the beginning of one thing and the end of another in constant cycle.

Read an excerpt here.

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The Other California: Land, Identity, and Politics on the Mexican Borderlands

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Monographs on 2017-01-04 02:23Z by Steven

The Other California: Land, Identity, and Politics on the Mexican Borderlands

University of California Press
January 2017
188 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9780520291638

Verónica Castillo-Muñoz, Assistant Professor of History
University of California, Santa Barbara

The Other California is the story of working-class communities and how they constituted the racially and ethnically diverse social landscape of Baja California. Packed with new and transformative stories, the book examines the interplay of land reform and migratory labor on the peninsula from 1850 to 1954, as governments, foreign investors, and local communities shaped a vibrant and dynamic borderland alongside the booming cities of Tijuana, Mexicali, and Santa Rosalia. Migration and intermarriage between Mexican women and men from Asia, Europe, and the United States transformed Baja California into a multicultural society. Mixed-race families extended across national borders, forging new local communities, labor relations, and border politics.

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The Life and Times of Pío Pico, Last Governor of Mexican California

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Mexico, United States on 2016-10-30 16:42Z by Steven

The Life and Times of Pío Pico, Last Governor of Mexican California

Lost LA
KCET
Burbank, California
2016-10-27

William D. Estrada, Curator of California and American History and Chair of the History Department
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County


Pío de Jesus Pico and his wife, María Ignacia Alvarado Pico, in 1852, with two of their nieces, María Anita Alvarado (far left) and Trinidad Ortega (far right). Courtesy of the Seaver Center for Western History Research, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Pío Pico was the last governor of California under Mexican rule, serving from 1845-46, just before the U.S. military occupation. Today, the name Pico is a familiar place name. Driving or walking throughout Southern California one will encounter busy Pico Boulevard; the City of Pico Rivera; two Pío Pico elementary schools; the Pico-Union district near downtown L.A.; Pico Park; the Pío Pico Koreatown Library; the three-story Pico House building; natural landmarks such as Pico Canyon north of Los Angeles and Pico Creek near Oceanside; and Pío Pico State Historic Park in the City of Whittier, just to name a few. His name has been commercialized in several businesses from corner grocery stores, shopping malls and fast food restaurants. And yet, despite the veneration in the popular mind, much of what we know about Pío Pico remains clouded in myth. His significance as an historical figure, as well as his connection to the contemporary Latino and African-American communities, is worth remembering…

Read the entire article here.

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Creating the Ideal Mexican: 20th and 21st Century Racial and National Identity Discourses in Oaxaca

Posted in Anthropology, Caribbean/Latin America, Definitions, History, Media Archive, Mexico on 2016-10-22 20:38Z by Steven

Creating the Ideal Mexican: 20th and 21st Century Racial and National Identity Discourses in Oaxaca

University of Massachusetts, Amherst
September 2015
235 pages

Savannah N. Carroll

Submitted to the Graduate School of the University of Massachusetts Amherst in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

This investigation intends to uncover past and contemporary socioeconomic significance of being a racial other in Oaxaca, Mexico and its relevance in shaping Mexican national identity. The project has two purposes: first, to analyze activities and observations of cultural missionaries in Oaxaca during the 1920s and 1930s, and second to relate these findings to historical and present implications of blackness in an Afro-Mexican community. Cultural missionaries were appointed by the Secretary of Public Education (SEP) to create schools throughout Mexico, focusing on the modernization of marginalized communities through formal and social education. This initiative was intended to resolve socioeconomic disparities and incorporate sectors of the population into the national framework that had been excluded prior to the Mexican Revolution in 1910. While these efforts were predominantly implemented in indigenous communities located in the northern part of Oaxaca, observations from cultural missionaries related to social and educational conditions reveal ongoing disparities between what it means to be indigenous versus mestizo. The exclusion of moreno, or Afro-descended people from this state sponsored initiative indicates that blackness along with indigenity is otherized, with the primary difference being that Afro-descended Mexicans lack visibility.

To gain a better perspective of the historical and present significance of blackness, my project moves from the general to the specific to include José Maria Morelos, Oaxaca, an Afro-descended community that is isolated, has no tourist attractions or services, dirt roads, and little access to socioeconomic resources. Morelos was established by blacks who escaped slavery and lived independently in their own community. People in the town strongly identify with this history and its relation to their present condition. After speaking with local activists, it became apparent that rights that were supposed to be gained from the Mexican Revolution, such as land rights and public education, did not happen in Morelos, which adversely affects people’s prospects for socioeconomic advancement.

Read the entire dissertation 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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Too Black for Mexico — Cécile Smetana Photographs the Afro-Mexicans Stigmatized for the Color of Their Skin

Posted in Articles, Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Mexico on 2016-10-17 00:07Z by Steven

Too Black for Mexico — Cécile Smetana Photographs the Afro-Mexicans Stigmatized for the Color of Their Skin

FotoRoom
2016-10-10

Photos by Cécile Smetana Baudier

31 year-old French-Danish photographer Cécile Smetana Baudier discusses Diaspora: Costa Chica, a subjective reportage from a coastal area of Mexico where Cécile lived with a minority ethnic group: the Mexicans of African descent. Her beautiful portraits and landscape photographs introduce us to this community living at the margins of their society, and sometimes victim of racist stereotypes.

Hello Cécile, thank you for this interview. What inspired your new series Diaspora: Costa Chica?

I was living in Oaxaca city in Mexico and was researching on a different project; however when I started working on it I never got a connection with the girls I was photographing. I was not in a very positive state of mind.

One day I was sitting at the dentist’s office. A lot of his clients where other photographers and therefore he had all these photography books on the table. I started looking through them and I stumbled across one about the Afro-Mexican community in Costa Chica, an area that expands from the state of Oaxaca to the coast of Guerrero. I didn’t know that there were any communities of people of African descent in Mexico and I started researching on the subject. I found the photos of Tony Gleaton, an American photographer who dedicated his life to portray Afro communities and I was very much inspired by him, which becomes very clear when comparing my own images to his…

Read the entire interview and view the gallery here.

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