Mexico, From Mestizo to Multicultural

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Communications/Media Studies, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Mexico, Monographs on 2013-09-21 05:16Z by Steven

Mexico, From Mestizo to Multicultural

Vanderbilt University Press
2007-06-29
254 pages
7in x 10in
60 Illustrations
Paperback ISBN: 9780826515391
Hardback ISBN: 9780826515384

Carrie C. Chorba, Associate Professor of Spanish
Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, California

In Mexico, the confluence of the 1992 Quincentennial commemoration of Columbus’s voyages and the neo-liberal sexenio, or presidency, of Carlos Salinas de Gortari spurred artistic creations that capture the decade like no other source does. In the 1990s, Mexican artists produced an inordinate number of works that revise and rewrite the events of the sixteenth-century conquest and colonization. These works and their relationship to, indeed their mirroring of, the intellectual and cultural atmosphere in Mexico during the Salinas presidency are of paramount importance if we are to understand the subtle but deep shifts within Mexico’s national identity that took place at the end of the last century.

Throughout the twentieth century, the post-revolutionary Mexican State had used mestizaje as a symbol of national unity and social integration. By the end of the millennium, however, Mexico had gone from a PRI-dominated, economically protectionist nation to a more democratic, economically globalizing one. More importantly, the homogenizing, mestizophile national identity that pervaded Mexico throughout the past century had given way to official admission of Mexico’s ethnic and linguistic diversity–or ‘pluriculture’ according to President Salinas’s 1992 constitutional revision.

This book is the first interdisciplinary study of literary, cinematic, and graphic images of Mexican national identity in the 1980s and ’90s. Discussing, in depth, writings, films, and cartoons from a vast array of contemporary sources, Carrie C. Chorba creates a social history of this important shift.

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Book Review: Land of the Cosmic Race: Race Mixture, Racism and Blackness in Mexico

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Mexico, Social Science on 2013-09-09 04:08Z by Steven

Book Review: Land of the Cosmic Race: Race Mixture, Racism and Blackness in Mexico

LSE Review of Books
London School of Economics
2013-08-30

Zalfa Feghali, Editorial Assistant
Journal of American Studies

Land of the Cosmic Race is a richly-detailed ethnographic account of the powerful role that race and colour play in organizing the lives and thoughts of ordinary Mexicans. It presents a previously untold story of how individuals in contemporary urban Mexico construct their identities, attitudes, and practices in the context of a dominant national belief system. Carefully presented and self-consciously written, this is an excellent book for anyone with an interest in how Mexican racial politics can be seen to operate on the ground, finds Zalfa Feghali.

Land of the Cosmic Race: Race Mixture, Racism, and Blackness in Mexico. Christina A. Sue. Oxford University Press. March 2013.

One prevailing fact of studying race in the Americas is that the discussion almost always turns to the US as a reference point. Studies of racial dynamics in the Americas are—obviously—rich, necessary, and often sidelined in favour of these more popular ways of thinking about race. Christina A. Sue’s Land of the Cosmic Race: Race Mixture, Racism and Blackness in Mexico attempts to redress this imbalance by complicating and problematising the dynamics of racial mixture in Mexico. Primarily an ethnographic study, this book offers new ways of thinking about race studies in the Mexican context.

The book’s title, which Sue discusses but doesn’t fully unpack, is taken from a provocative work by Jose Vasconcelos, The Cosmic Race, published in 1925. Vasconcelos’ views on mestizaje­—racial mixture—are key to understanding the dominant ideological logic behind Mexico’s national(ist) relationship with race. In The Cosmic Race, Vasconcelos sees the vast potential of (specifically) Mexicans as mestizos, and lauds them for their mestizo/a (mixed race, specifically Spanish and Indigenous) character. Significantly, he also casts the mestizos as the first stage in the creation of a new, cosmic race that will eventually take on characteristics and subsume the genetic streams of “all the races.” According to his logic, this cosmic race would take on the best or most desirable traits from each respective race and eventually lines between the “original” races will blur to the point that any one individual’s “racial heritage” would be completely indistinguishable from another’s, thus becoming the ultimate mestizo/a (something akin what some might now call a post-ethnic or post-racial world)…

Read the entire review here.

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Making the Chinese Mexican: Global Migration, Localism, and Exclusion in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands [DeLeón Review]

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico on 2013-09-02 23:37Z by Steven

Making the Chinese Mexican: Global Migration, Localism, and Exclusion in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands [DeLeón Review]

Journal of American History
Volume 99, Issue 4 (March 2013)
page 1284
DOI: 10.1093/jahist/jas678

Arnoldo DeLeón, Professor of History
Angelo State University, San Angelo Texas

Making the Chinese Mexican: Global Migration, Localism, and Exclusion in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands. By Grace Peña Delgado. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2012. xvi, 304 pp.

Several theses drive this book’s narrative, among them are three that the author develops scrupulously. First, international and national influences shaped the histories of the borderlands of Arizona and Sonora. Migration—created in the nineteenth century by civil war in China and global demands for labor—brought the Chinese to the United States and Mexico. Chinese communities sprouted in both countries by the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, though they were more successful in Mexico where the Chinese established themselves as merchants. Commerce among these businessmen involved crossing borders and…

Read or purchase the review here.

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Interracial Families in 18th-Century Mexico

Posted in Articles, Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico on 2013-07-25 21:03Z by Steven

Interracial Families in 18th-Century Mexico

The Root
2013-07-23


Unknown artist working in New Spain (Mexico), De español y negra mulata, oil on canvas, 36 by 48 cm (Museo de America, Madrid)

Image of the Week: A painting captures the multiethnic population in New Spain, now Mexico.

One of the most typical, revealing products of colonial Spanish culture was the casta painting. This Iberian term means “lineage,” or “race,” and in art refers to the comprehensive representation of mixed-race couples and their offspring. Produced in a series usually consisting of 16 family groups, casta paintings categorize the uniquely complex degree of racial variation that arose within the multiethnic population of the viceroyalty of New Spain, now Mexico. These works were produced almost exclusively in the major artistic and governmental centers of Mexico City and Puebla during the 18th century. About 100 sets of casta paintings survive today from what must once have been a considerably larger number.

Casta sets were commissioned primarily by members of the ruling elite of New Spain. Their audience consisted of a fairly limited but discerning group of officials, clergy and scholars on both sides of the Atlantic. In some cases the sets were directly presented to the king in Madrid as a visual record of the diversity of his overseas realm. The miscegenation recorded in these series is also reflected in the origins of the artists themselves. With only one known exception, all identified casta painters were born in Mexico, not Spain, and many were themselves of mixed race.

In all casta series, the couples consist of men and women from the three main ethnicities living in New Spain: white, Indian and black. Those represented are types, not specific individuals. All known series begin with the union between a white man, described as a Spaniard (español), and an Indian, producing a mestizo. The sequence then continues with a new category produced by the pairing of a mestizo with another Spaniard, producing a castizo. In the next case a white man is the father as well, and so the complexion becomes lighter, and therefore of greater advantage in the racially ordered hierarchy of colonial life. The child is, in fact, described as español, the same as his or her father…

Read the entire article here.

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Displaced looks: The lived experience of beauty and racism

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Mexico, Social Science, Women on 2013-07-18 02:48Z by Steven

Displaced looks: The lived experience of beauty and racism

Feminist Theory
Volume 14, Number 2, August 2013  
pages 137-151
DOI: 10.1177/1464700113483241

Mónica G. Moreno Figueroa, Lecturer in Sociology
Newcastle University

 With a focus on appearance and racialised perceptions of skin colour, this paper discusses the differences between being and feeling acceptable, pretty or ugly and the possibility of such displacement (from being to feeling or vice versa), as a way to understand what beauty does in people’s lives. The paper explores the fragility of beauty in relation to the visibility of the body in specific racialised contexts. It investigates the claim that beauty can be considered a feeling that emphasises processes (what beauty does) rather than contents (what beauty is). Drawing from life stories with Mexican women, I examine their concerns about visibility, temporality and appearance as expressions of racist practices and ideas, within a context where the racial project of mestizaje (racial mixture) is in operation. Beauty matters as it makes evident the pervasiveness of racism in the everyday. The lived experience of beauty, in its displacement and fragility, as a feeling and as resource, can also point to some of the strategies to resist, cope and get on.

Read or purchase the article here.

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The Mestizo State: Reading Race in Modern Mexico

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Mexico, Monographs on 2013-06-25 18:09Z by Steven

The Mestizo State: Reading Race in Modern Mexico

University of Minnesota Press
June 2012
248 pages
5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8166-5637-0
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8166-5636-3

Joshua Lund, Associate Professor of Spanish
University of Pittsburgh

The Mestizo State examines how the ideas, images, and public discourse around race, nation, and citizen formation have been transformed in Mexico from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. Starting with the Porfiriato, Joshua Lund investigates the rise of a racialized “mestizo state,” its reinvention after the Mexican Revolution, and its mobilization as a critical lever that would act both on behalf of and against mainstream Mexican political culture during the long hegemony of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional.

Lund takes race as his object of critical reflection in the context of modern Mexico. An analysis that does not confuse race with mestizaje, indigeneity, African identity, or whiteness, the book sheds light on the history of the materialism of race as it unfolds within the cultural production of modern Mexico, grounded on close readings of four writers whose work explicitly challenged the politics of race in Mexico: Luis Alva, Ignacio Manuel Altamirano, Rosario Castellanos, and Elena Garro.

In seeking to address race as a cultural-political problematic, Lund considers race as integral to the production of the materiality of Mexican national history: constitutive of the nation form, a mediator of capitalist accumulation, and a central actor in the rise of modernity.

Contents

  • Introduction: The Mestizo State
  • 1. Colonization and Indianization in Liberal Mexico: The Case of Luis Alva
  • 2. Altamirano’s Burden
  • 3. Misplaced Revolution: Rosario Castellanos and the Race War
  • 4. Elena Garro and the Failure of Alliance
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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A Continent Divided: The U.S.-Mexico War

Posted in Caribbean/Latin America, History, Mexico, New Media, Teaching Resources, United States on 2013-06-19 13:51Z by Steven

A Continent Divided: The U.S.-Mexico War

Center for Greater Southwestern Studies
University of Texas at Arlington
2013-06-18

The Center for Greater Southwestern Studies at the University of Texas at Arlington announces the launch of a new website, A Continent Divided: The U.S.-Mexico War. Drawn from the holdings of UT Arlington’s Special Collections, long recognized as one of the premier archives on the war, the website features a broad range of primary source materials, as well as explanatory text on the events of 1846-1848. Dedicated to presenting the war as a bi-national conflict, the website currently features more than 50 translated Mexican broadsides, dealing with such topics as the fall of the Herrera government in 1845, the Polkos Revolt, and the post-war occupation of Mexico City.
 
A Continent Divided is an ongoing, multi-year digital humanities project which, when completed, will offer one of the most comprehensive internet resources available on the U.S.-Mexico War.

For more information, click here.

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Casta Paintings: Images of Race in Eighteenth-Century Mexico by Ilona Katzew; Imagining Identity in New Spain: Race, Lineage, and the Colonial Body in Portraiture and Casta Paintings by Magali M. Carrera

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico on 2013-05-29 03:26Z by Steven

Casta Paintings: Images of Race in Eighteenth-Century Mexico by Ilona Katzew; Imagining Identity in New Spain: Race, Lineage, and the Colonial Body in Portraiture and Casta Paintings by Magali M. Carrera

The Art Bulletin
Volume 88, Number 1 (March, 2006)
pages 185-189

Thomas B.F. Cummins, Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Pre-Columbian and Colonial Art
Harvard University

Ilona Katzew, Casta Paintings: Images of Race in Eighteenth-Century Mexico, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004. 256 pp.; 127 color ills., 143 b/w.

Magali M. Carrera, Imagining Identity in New Spain: Race, Lineage, and the Colonial Body in Portraiture and Casta Paintings, Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003. 188 pp.; 12 color ills., 60 b/w.

In eighteenth-century New Spain (Mexico), a genre of painting appeared, the likes of which had never been seen before. Called casta paintings in English, this new genre took as its subject the colonial issue of race (raza), racial intermarriage, and their offspring. Almost always painted in a series of approximately sixteen canvases, they depict a mother, father, and child, each of whom represents a different category within the sistema de castas, or racial lineages. For example, the first painting in the series normally represents a Spaniard, an Indian, and their child, a mestizo. These remarkable paintings have become increasingly the subject of studies and exhibitions in the last twenty years. (1) These recent books by Ilona Katzew and Magali M. Carrera add greatly to our knowledge about this unique and fascinating genre, and they demonstrate at the same time the growth of the field of Latin American colonial art history in the United States. More important, their work demonstrates that scholars in the United States are no longer interested only in the art and architecture of the sixteenth century, an area first plowed by George Kubler (to use his metaphor), Harold We they, and George MacAndrew in the United States and by a much larger contingent of scholars from Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, and Spain. New and careful studies in the United States by such scholars as Jaime Lara, Jeanette Peterson, Elizabeth Boone, and Barbara Mundy concerning the sixteenth century have been published. New and important work also is being published in Peru, Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia, and Mexico, and a list would be too long to mention the outstanding research that has enlivened the sixteenth-century colonial art studies in the past twenty years. It is, in fact, now possible to teach an early Spanish colonial art history course using a wide range of material published in English. But now, as this area matures, some art historians throughout the Americas are looking to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as fertile fields of inquiry, and not only in areas of religious art–although the production of religious art certainly predominates in all colonial periods–but also in the study of secular works such as maps, textiles, silver-work, portraits, and casta paintings.

The two books by Carrera and Katzew are additions to this growing area. While their almost simultaneous publication on the same eighteenth-century genre may seem imbalanced in light of how much other work remains to be done in the field of eighteenth-century Mexican art and architecture, their efforts might be best understood as a consequence of the tremendous attraction exerted by casta paintings. Beyond their aspect as visually arresting paintings, these works, unlike any other genre of painting in Western art, deal directly and concretely with the visualization of racial categories within the colonial context of a broad racial discourse. As such, casta paintings resonate in various ways with modern sensibilities about race; it should be no surprise that the recent exhibition of casta paintings curated at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art by Ilona Katzew drew a very large, enthusiastic, and diverse public. In fact, any American viewer of today–and by American I mean anyone in the Americas–who looks at these paintings must come face-to-face with the roots of racialized America. Casta paintings, as both Katzew and Carrera point out, constitute a pivotal part of the formation of racial categories and how they are registered in Mexico. The paintings visually order the interracial marriages of New Spain, beginning with a marriage between a Spaniard (Espanol) and an Indian (Indios); a Spaniard and a Negro (Negros); a Negro and an Indian. These marriages are compounded in racial diversity by the marriages of their children (mestizos, mulattoes, and so on). The progression has infinite possibilities in terms of the degree of mixture. However, casta paintings are organized in a predetermined sequence, often numbered from one to sixteen, so that the order cannot be altered. It therefore composes a closed series in which is found a bewildering and ultimately fictitious set of categories for the descending categories of racial mixing. For example, from the marriage between an Espanol (Spaniard) and torna atras (literally, return backward, who is the offspring of the marriage of a Spaniard and albino) is born a tenete en el aire (hold-yourself-in-midair). This immediately poses the question: What racial category is an albino in the system of castas in Mexico? To arrive at the category of albino in the casta series there must first be a marriage between a Spaniard and a mulata, the child of whom is called a morisco. The morisco in turn must marry a Spaniard, whose child is termed an albino. Of course, in reality, not all moriscos and Spaniards have albino children and not all albino children are born to morisco and Spanish parents. The system of castas is not, however, about such logic. Casta paintings as a series present a clear causal progression that includes the albino as a predicable and known casta. Neither author ever thoroughly addresses this category in terms of the casta series, although Katzew offers an interesting discussion of the albino as described by two Spanish authors in relation to “whiteness and blackness” (pp. 47-48)…

Read the entire review of both books here.

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Casta Painting: Art, Race and Identity in Colonial Mexico (HI972)

Posted in Caribbean/Latin America, Course Offerings, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Mexico, United Kingdom on 2013-05-27 02:27Z by Steven

Casta Painting: Art, Race and Identity in Colonial Mexico (HI972)

University of Warwick
Coventry, England
Spring 2013

Rebecca Earle, Professor of History

This module explores the distinctive vision of colonial Mexico purveyed via the artistic genre known as the casta painting. Casta paintings depict the outcomes of different types of inter-ethnic mixing, and often come in series of 16, showing many different family groups. They are quite remarkable. Consider, for example, José de Alcíbar’s painting showing a family group consisting, we are told in the helpful label, of a Black father, and Indian mother and their ‘Wolf’ son:

Casta paintings can be seen as attempts at cataloguing the varied inhabitants of Spain’s colonial universe. They thus offer a visual taxonomy of colonial space. At the same time, they have been read as statements of local pride, and usually include a wealth of details about local customs and habits. In addition, they are rich and complex documents relating to the material culture of colonial Spanish America. In Alcíbar’s painting reproduced above we notice not only the domestic strife but also the beautiful china (which is endangered by the parental row) and food items such as the headless chicken. How are we to interpret and understand such images?

The module will introduce students to this artistic genre, and will explore different ways of interpreting these multi-valent images. Its educational aims, therefore, are to help students consider how to read artistic works produced in a colonial setting, how to use casta paintings as a body of source material, and how to explore the relationship between visual and textual depictions of colonial space…

For more information, click here.

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The Art of Conversation: Eighteenth-Century Mexican Casta Painting

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Mexico on 2013-05-27 00:02Z by Steven

The Art of Conversation: Eighteenth-Century Mexican Casta Painting

SHIFT: Graduate Journal of Visual and Material Culture
Issue 5, 2012
25 pages

Mey-Yen Moriuchi
Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Traditionally, casta paintings have been interpreted as an isolated colonial Mexican art form and examined within the social historical moment in which they emerged. Casta paintings visually represented the miscegenation of the Spanish, Indian and Black African populations that constituted the new world and embraced a diverse terminology to demarcate the land’s mixed races. Racial mixing challenged established social and racial categories, and casta paintings sought to stabilize issues of race, gender and social status that were present in colonial Mexico.

Concurrently, halfway across the world, another country’s artists were striving to find the visual vocabulary to represent its families, socio-economic class and genealogical lineage. I am referring to England and its eighteenth-century conversation pictures. Like casta paintings, English conversation pieces articulate beliefs about social and familial propriety. It is through the family unit and the presence of a child that a genealogical statement is made and an effigy is preserved for subsequent generations. Utilizing both invention and mimesis, artists of both genres emphasize costume and accessories in order to cater to particular stereotypes.

I read casta paintings as conversations like their European counterparts—both internal conversations among the figures within the frame, and external ones between the figures, the artist and the beholder. It is my position that both casta paintings and conversation pieces demonstrate a similar concern with the construction of a particular self-image in the midst of societies that were apprehensive about the varying conflicting notions of socio-familial and socio-racial categories.

Read the entire article here.

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