The Disappearing Mestizo: Configuring Difference in the Colonial New Kingdom of Granada by Joanne Rappaport (review) [von Germeten]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive on 2015-03-25 14:59Z by Steven

The Disappearing Mestizo: Configuring Difference in the Colonial New Kingdom of Granada by Joanne Rappaport (review) [von Germeten]

The Americas
Volume 72, Number 1, January 2015
pages 159-160

Nicole von Germeten, Associate Professor of History
Oregon State University

Rappaport, Joanne, The Disappearing Mestizo: Configuring Difference in the Colonial New Kingdom of Granada (Durham: Duke University Press, 2014).

Joanne Rappaport argues that even in the seventeenth-century classic satire known as El Carnero, set in what is now Colombia, the main character avoids identification as a mestiza, demonstrating the disappearing elusiveness of this term. The fact that readers cannot be sure if Inés de Hinojosa’s mother was or was not an indigenous woman brings directly to life the point Rappaport explores throughout her book. Subjects of the Spanish crown living in the sixteenth-, seventeenth-, and even eighteenth-century New Kingdom of Granada avoided categorization as mestizo when it suited them, although they sometimes took on the label if it seemed expedient at a particular moment. Rappaport effectively proves that identification as mestizo, mulatto, or even the more basic categories of Spanish, Indian, and black, does not equate to a stable, genetic, or genealogical “race” in the modern sense of the word. These categories are beyond fluid or malleable, the common explanation for why one individual might receive several different “racial” identifications during their lifespan.

Rappaport suggests instead that, at least in the New Kingdom of Granada, terms such as mestizo and mulatto do not necessarily represent an easily definable or cohesive group of individuals. In other words, regardless of what a person might call him or herself, or “pass” as within the Spanish world, we cannot hope to ascertain their “real race” from such a limited term, within this particular historical context. The designation of mestizo especially represents nothing other than an allusion, because this category did not carry a specific legal status or set of privileges within Spanish law. Therefore, students and scholars who wish to understand personal identity and society in the Spanish American viceroyalties must set aside our modern obsession with race as a simple unchanging way to categorize human beings. In fact, calidad, a broad range of attributes including stage of life, gender, occupation, personal wealth, spousal choice, place of residence, domestic setting, literacy, speech patterns, and style of dress, may have held more weight than what we call “race.”

Rappoport supports these arguments with ethnographic explorations of several suggestive case studies, in a far more effective and readable style than would be provided by the tiresome citation of innumerable confusing examples, or even worse statistical analysis. At the end of the book, the reader actually remembers the individuals under discussion and feels a sense of knowing them as well as possible and understanding how their life experiences elucidate why mestizos represent a “disappearing” category. Rappaport’s analytical narratives include individuals sometimes classed as mestizos, but otherwise known as a duped doncella, a politically engaged cacique, an adulterous widow, a frustrated, blustering upwardly mobile Bogotá alderman, a man who just wants to stay with his family and friends in an indigenous village, and even the stereotypical abusive, rabble-rousing mulatto. Rappaport also takes a look at the physical descriptions contained in casa de la contratación travel documents, the early modern version of passport photos, expressed in standardized verbiage describing hair texture, skin tone, and most importantly, beards. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the most common color used to describe Spanish skin was brown [moreno].

This book corrects simplistic ideas about the timelessness of racial categorization, even including previous efforts to historicize the alleged “hardening” of race designations in the eighteenth century. Rappaport makes an excellent point that historians of other parts of Spanish America should not assume the sistema de castas applied beyond New Spain, although it is even doubtful that it works as an analytical framework there. Even if Bourbon reformers attempted to “harden” racial lines or put a “caste system” into effect, scholars who spend their time in archives already know the need to question the effectiveness of these efforts. This book offers an important contribution to the historiography of Spanish rule in the Americas, and might even challenge and complicate undergraduate thinking on race. Understanding the history of the Spanish viceroyalties demands mental flexibility, and this book does an essential job of exposing where, through lazy thinking, we still hold onto rigid, anachronistic interpretations…

Tags: , ,

The Culture of Curls: What Hair Really Means in Mixed Race Societies

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, South Africa on 2015-03-16 02:13Z by Steven

The Culture of Curls: What Hair Really Means in Mixed Race Societies

The Yale Globalist
2013-12-24

Isidora Stankovic
Timothy Dwight College
Yale University

Look through any fashion magazine and you might notice something puzzling. Almost without exception, models of every race have the same sleek, straightened hair. The message from these media sources seems clear: these painstakingly smooth hairstyles are simply better. Women around the world have taken this message to heart and adopted straightened hair as a beauty ideal, but for some women, hair texture means something more. In societies with large mixed race populations, hair extends beyond beauty and becomes a factor that reveals ethnic heritage and even socioeconomic background. According to Professor Roberto González Echevarría, Sterling Professor of Hispanic and Comparative Literatures at Yale University, “hair is a fashion statement as well as a statement of ethnicity.” Curls and kinky hair are loaded with stigma in many countries, in part because they represent the effects of historical interactions between different ethnic groups.

The legacy of European colonialism echoes strongly in Cuba, and has been influential in shaping race relations, social structure, and the identities of mixed-race individuals. Professor González Echevarría explains that Spaniards brought a relatively small number of African slaves to Cuba in the 16th century to replace the annihilated labor force. In the 19th century, the number of African slaves on the island grew as the country invested in the sugar industry. Interactions with white Europeans and black slaves created a significant mixed-race population, and the growth of this group has made it increasingly difficult to identify people as either black or white and produced a change in categorization of individuals. Thus, hair has become an important tool for labeling and social stratification. According to González Echevarría, “There are many gradations of mulatto in Cuba, and some are gauged by how kinky their hair is.” He adds that Cubans can be prejudiced against kinky hair, noting that to have kinky hair is to “tener pelo malo,” or “to have bad hair.” They may call the hair of black individuals “pasa,” and women of European origin even refer to their hair as “pasa” when they are having a bad hair day, often saying “tengo la pasa alborotada” (“I have messy/wild hair”)…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,

We are Afro-Mexican|”I am Blaxican”

Posted in Articles, Biography, Caribbean/Latin America, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Mexico, United States on 2015-03-16 01:04Z by Steven

We are Afro-Mexican|”I am Blaxican”

Life as Karen: Just setting my soul free.
2015-03-12

Karen Salinas

This week I decided to interview my dad; my inspiration for this project. The interview was conducted in Spanish, the English version is translated!

Esta semana decidi entrevistar a mi papa; la inspiracion para este proyecto.

K: ¿De donde eres? Where are you from?

M: Soy de Santo Domingo Armenta, Oaxaca, pero me fui a Acapulco, Guerrero a la edad de 4 años

I am from Santo Domingo Armenta, Oaxaca, but I moved to Acapulco, Guerrero  when I was 4 years old.

K: ¿En que año te venistes a E.U? Y por que? What year did you migrate to the U.S, and why?

M: Vine a Estados Unidos en 1999, a lo que todos venimos, buscando una vida mejor para nuestras familias

I came to the U.S in the year 1999, for the same reason that we all come here for; a better way of life for our families.

K:  ¿Cuando la gente te pregunta sobre tu origen, que les dices? When people ask about your nationality, how do you respond?

M: Que soy Black-xican.

That I am Black-xican.

K: ¿Te identificas como “negro”? Do you identify yourself as “Black”?

M: Si, me identifico como negro Mexicano

Yes, I identify myself as a black- Mexican…

Read the entire interview here.

Tags: , , ,

Land of the Cosmic Race

Posted in Anthropology, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Mexico, Social Science on 2015-03-08 01:34Z by Steven

Land of the Cosmic Race

Sociological Forum
Volume 30, Issue 1 (March 2015)
pages 248-251
DOI: 10.1111/socf.12157

Martha King
Graduate Center
City University of New York

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

In Land of the Cosmic Race: Race Mixture, Racism, and Blackness in Mexico, Christina A. Sue makes significant theoretical and empirical contributions to the field of racial and ethnic studies and to its growing subfield of comparative investigation. These contributions are more impressive because they stem from Sue’s dissertation and compose her first book. Her study is an ambitious ethnography exploring Mexicans’ negotiation of racial and national ideology at a micro level, as well as the themes of mestizaje (race mixture), racism, racial identity construction, and blackness in everyday discourse. Sue’s qualitative approach richly blends various sources: participant observation, interviews, and focus groups. Her fieldwork was conducted between 2003 and 2005 in Mexico’s urbanized Veracruz region, which lies on the coast southeast of Mexico City. As in comparable metropolitan areas in Mexico, the majority of residents are mestizo while a smaller proportion is indigenous. Veracruz, however, is unique because it is home to a higher proportion of people of African descent and its residents have more phenotypical variation. It was a major gateway for African slaves and has acted in recent years as an entry point for migrant black Cubans.

For much of Mexico’s colonial period, blacks outnumbered whites (p. 11). Finding segregation increasingly difficult to maintain because of race mixing, colonial authorities implemented a hierarchical caste system based on race, color, culture, and socioeconomic status with Spaniards at the top, then mixed-race individuals, Indians, and Africans at the bottom. During the postrevolutionary period, Mexican leaders and elites celebrated mestizo identity as the foundation of Mexican nationalism and distinction. This ideological turn was intended to cope with indigenous marginalization and social divisions and evade the period’s rampant scientific racism that would see Mexico as a less capable or worthy nation due to its black and indigenous population.

This postrevolutionary ideology is the foundation for Mexico’s contemporary national ideology. Sue describes contemporary national ideology as composed of three pillars. The first pillar is that of mestizaje, which upholds race mixture as positive and quintessentially Mexican (p. 15). The second pillar is nonracism, meaning Mexico is a country free of racism. Sue’s informants consistently confirm that because Mexico’s national identity is based on race mixture, then racism is inconceivable. The third pillar is nonblackness or the “minimization or erasure of blackness from Mexican national image, both as a separate racial category and as a component of the mestizo population” (p. 16). Sue argues persuasively that these three pillars are complementary in facilitating racial discrimination and the privileging of whiteness in Mexico.

Sue’s overarching question is how do individuals respond to, manage, and resolve the contradictions between Mexico’s national ideology and their daily experiences of white privilege and discrimination toward people of African descent (p. 5). Sue’s data persuasively show that mechanisms and discourse at the micro level play pivotal parts of reproducing ideology and social hierarchy in Mexico. Her work reminds us that elites do not, on their own, develop and maintain dominant ideologies. Instead, “the social force behind ideology lies in the popular realm” (p. 8)…

Read the entire review here.

Tags: , , ,

The Ins and Outs of Diversity in the Dominican Republic

Posted in Anthropology, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Media Archive on 2015-03-01 22:22Z by Steven

The Ins and Outs of Diversity in the Dominican Republic

Latina
2015-02-26

Cindy Rodriguez

In an attempt to debunk the stereotypes on what exactly a “Dominican looks like,” Twitter user UsDominicans809 posted a photo of a group of beautiful women (er, possibly models?) who are all super diverse in physical identity along with a sassy tweet.

“They’re all dominican; so next time somebody says “you don’t look dominican” tell that dumbass, we’re all unique,” as written by user UsDominicans809.

This comment accurately encompasses the identity struggle Latinos in the U.S. go through day in and day out which is why pieces like “Things You Shouldn’t Say To Latinos,” or Afro-Latinos and the often overlooked pale Latinas do so well. They reflect all the misconceptions that go with the Latino identity.

First, Latinos are not a race, it’s an ethnicity; but you knew that already. Latin America’s diverse racial demographics are the result of a mixed-race background from European, African and indigenous cultures.

But if you didn’t already know… race in the Dominican Republic is way more complicated than in the United States.

Here, you either fall under a handful of categories: Asian, Black, White, India, and so forth but, according to Public Radio International, Dominicans use an array of words to self-identify their degree of “blackness”, for lack of a better term, like: moreno, trigueno, and blanco-oscuro.

Which is odd because “more than 90 percent of Dominicans possess some degree of African descent — and that the very first rebellion of black slaves occurred here in 1522,” according to The Root. But, in the their federal census, most recently, 82 percent designated their race as “indio”, while only 4.13 percent designate themselves as black…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

A Student Traveling Through Costa Chica Picked Up A Camera to Let Afro-Mexicans Tell Their Story

Posted in Anthropology, Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, Mexico on 2015-03-01 22:03Z by Steven

A Student Traveling Through Costa Chica Picked Up A Camera to Let Afro-Mexicans Tell Their Story

Remezcla
2015-02-25

Andrew S. Vargas

It’s Black History Month once again, and while it seems like every other day of the calendar year has been dedicated to some cause or another, the concept of Black history is particularly relevant to us as Latinos. With historically documented African populations from Buenos Aires up to Veracruz, including just about every country along the way, a new generation is starting to realize that our African heritage has been systematically erased from our national narratives over the centuries…

…One young filmmaker and anthropology student of Afro-Salvadoran descent, feeling sympathy for the plight of invisible Afro-Mexicans, took it upon himself to make a very independent documentary exploring Afro-Mexican identity in the coastal communities of La Costa Chica — a region spanning the states of Guerrero and Oaxaca that has the highest concentration of Afro-descendants in Mexico. Titled Así Somos: Afro Identities in the Coast, the short doc admittedly features an extremely raw and unpolished style, but director Andy Amaya does a fairly good job of letting his subjects speak for themselves as they reflect on experiences with discrimination, their Afro-linguistic heritage and labels like ‘negro’ vs. ‘afromexicano’…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Mestizaje and Public Opinion in Latin America

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Mexico, Social Science on 2015-03-01 02:50Z by Steven

Mestizaje and Public Opinion in Latin America

Latin American Research Review
Volume 48, Number 3 (2013)
pages 130-152
DOI: 10.1353/lar.2013.0045

Edward Telles, Professor of Sociology
Princeton University

Denia Garcia
Department of Sociology
Princeton University

Latin American elites authored and disseminated ideologies of mestizaje or race mixture, but does the general population value them today? Using the 2010 Americas Barometer, we examined public opinion about mestizaje in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru using survey questions that modeled mestizaje both as a principle of national development and as tolerance for intermarriage with black or indigenous people. We found that most Latin Americans support mestizaje, although support varies by country and ethnicity. Across countries, we find partial evidence that the strength of earlier nation-making mestizaje ideas is related to support for mestizaje today, and that strong multicultural policies may have actually strengthened such support. Ethnoracial minorities showed particular support for the national principle of mestizaje. Finally, we discovered that the national principle of mestizaje is associated with more tolerant attitudes about intermarriage, especially in countries with large Afro-descendant populations.

Ideas of mestizaje, or race mixture, are central to the formation of many Latin American nations and are assumed to predominate in much of the region today (Hale 2006; Holt 2003; Telles 2004; Wade 1993). Concepts of mestizaje stress racial fusion and the inclusion of diverse racial elements as essential to the nation; hence mestizos, or mixed-race people, are considered the prototypical citizens. Although racial hierarchies characterize Latin American socioeconomic structures (Telles, Flores, and Urrea-Giraldo 2010), ideas of mestizaje have stood in contrast to ideas of white racial purity and anti-miscegenation historically held in the United States (Bost 2003; Holt 2003; Sollors 2000). While ideas of mestizaje emerged as Latin American state projects in the early twentieth century, they are often hailed as widely shared ideologies that are central to Latin Americans’ understanding of race and race relations (Knight 1990; Mallon 1996; Whitten 2003).

Despite Latin America’s diverse racial composition and the fact that an estimated 133 million Afro-descendant and 34 million indigenous people reside there, according to recent data—numbers far higher than in the United States (Telles, forthcoming)—racial attitudes in Latin America have, surprisingly, been understudied. Despite clues from ethnographic research, we lack nationally representative evidence on the general population’s feelings about mestizaje. In this article, we examine support for mestizaje and its variations across nation and ethnicity in eight Latin American countries with large nonwhite populations: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, and Peru. These countries represent more than 70 percent of Latin America’s population and are home to the vast majority of both Afro-descendants and indigenous people in the region. We focused on two dimensions of the mestizaje ideology: as a national development principle and an individual intermarriage principle. The first, which is closely related to the national narratives developed by elites during nation making, maintains that race mixture is good for the nation. The second addresses tolerance for intermarriage in one’s family—often considered the ultimate marker of racial and ethnic integration (Alba and Nee 2003; Gordon 1964).

Our examination of eight Latin American countries provides new contexts for thinking about racial attitudes, beyond the large literature that is dominated by the case of the United States. Since racial meanings are context dependent, the study of Latin America may complicate social science understandings of racial attitudes more generally. As Krysan (2000, 161) wrote, “This complexity forces those who have developed their theories in an American context to take care not to rely too heavily on uniquely American values, principles, politics, and racial histories.” Latin America differs from the United States in that nothing like mestizaje ideology exists in the United States. Moreover, understanding racial attitudes is important because they may guide behaviors, even though attitudes are often more liberal than actual behaviors (Schuman et al. 1997). In particular, the degree to which the public embraces mestizaje may be important for understanding whether the ideology has implications for racial and national identity and democratic politics in Latin America, including whether the population would support or resist measures to combat racial discrimination and inequality…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Beautiful Aliens.

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive on 2015-02-28 03:11Z by Steven

Beautiful Aliens.

Mixed Humans ~ Reflections on occupying a space of inbetweenness. Persistently grappling with identity.
2015-01-26

Natalie Armitage

“What beautiful daughters you have!”

It happens a lot. It is a compliment, of course it is. I have green eyes, that are pretty big, and light brown skin. My sister, has the richest auburn hair, which in the light gleamed like fire. She has white skin, with pink rosy cheeks. Mum was very dark, before Vitiligo, with jet black indian hair. I remember looking at her skin against my sisters chubby white rosy flesh…she could have been adopted. I remember climbing on my Dads lap and seeing my arms with his. Well I knew he was my Dad for certain, but having my arm next to his and see the contrast of its colour, used to make me wonder, how we could be so close but never know what it feels like to look like the other. We had different sets of skins.

I am light- which contrary to what some awful skin products tell you- is not necessarily beautiful. Society seems to associate one with the other, not me. I was always envious of the Nigerian girl in my class with braids. To me, she was beautiful. She was bright, funny, could dance, sing and shook her beads at the end of her hair that made a wonderful noise and made her so much prettier. Her laugh was infectious too. I used to dream of being black like her. Femininity, seems to ooze from natural afro-carribbean girls.

My Dad, raised me on jazz. We had pictures of black people all over the house as icons. All I really thought at that age is that black people were the most creative beings of the earth. I am still not convinced that is a wrong perception. Dad would say things like “can you imagine, going through all this pain and suffering by society- just for the colour of your skin?”. Stevie Wonder helped him to illustrate to me this point, through lots and lots of music…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,

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 – ethnoracial self-identification as used by national censuses and interviewer –rated 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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

279. Invited Thematic Session: Crossing Interracial Borders

Posted in Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, Live Events, Social Science, United States on 2015-02-27 01:35Z by Steven

279. Invited Thematic Session: Crossing Interracial Borders

Crossing Borders: 2015 Annual Meeting
Eastern Sociological Society
Millennium Broadway Hotel
New York, New York
2015-02-26 through 2015-03-01

Saturday, 2015-02-28, 12:00-13:30 EST (Local Time)

Organizer: Erica Chito-Childs, City University of New York – Hunter College

Presider: Erica Chito-Childs, City University of New York – Hunter College

  • Transracial Kin-scription: The Silent Engine of Racial Change? Kimberly McClain DaCosta — New York University
  • Emerging Patterns of Interracial Marriage and Immigrant Integration in the United States Daniel Lichter — Cornell University
  • Interracial Marriage in the U.S. and Brazil: Racial Boundaries in Comparative Perspective Chinyere Osuji — Rutgers University
  • A Global Look at Attitudes Towards “Mixed” Marriage Erica Chito-Childs — City University of New York – Hunter College

Discussant: Amy Steinbugler, Dickinson College

For more information, click here.

Tags: , , , , ,