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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The Checkered Past of Brazil’s New Race Court (JWJI Race & Difference Colloquium Series)

Posted in Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Live Events, Politics/Public Policy, Religion, Social Science on 2017-01-17 01:00Z by Steven

The Checkered Past of Brazil’s New Race Court (JWJI Race & Difference Colloquium Series)

Jones Room, Woodruff Library
The James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference
Emory University
Atlanta, Georgia 30322
Monday, 2017-02-06, 12:00-13:30 EST (Local Time)

Ruth Hill, Andrew W. Mellon Chair in the Humanities, Professor of Spanish
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee

A categorical crisis around racially-mixed persons has become a legal quagmire in Brazil. In August 2016, the Brazilian government announced the formation of the Racial Court (Tribunal Racial) to confront the steady stream of legal challenges that has beset the racial segment of the country’s Quotas System (Sistema de Cotas). The latter is an affirmative-action program giving preference to the disabled, the economically-disadvantaged, graduates of public schools, and specific racial groups (Amerindians and persons of African ancestry) in government offices and higher education. Litigation and media attention are centered on the program’s interstitial racial category, pardo. The category preto—the straightforward “black” in Brazil until it was jettisoned in educated quarters for negro, “negro”—and the category pardo (of European and an undefined amount of African and/or native origins) are often treated as subsets of the category negro. Still, color not descent is invoked when it is stated that persons “of pardo color” or “preto color” are eligible for the racial quotas for government posts, which are set aside “for negros and pardos.”

Whether colors or categories, where does pardo end and branco (“white”) or negro begin? In other words, when does afrodescendente (“Afro-descendant”) end and branco begin? In this Race and Difference Colloquium, Ruth Hill (Andrew W. Mellon Chair in the Humanities, Professor of Spanish, Vanderbilt University) argues that the pardo problem of today streams from the first global and systematic investigation into racial admixture, in the sixteenth century, which came on the heels of legislation to “uplift” Catholic neophytes in the Iberian empires. Those centuries-old arguments over mixed-race neophytes anticipated the moral and legal dilemmas of Brazil’s present-day affirmative-action program.

The Race and Difference Colloquium Series, a weekly event on the Emory University campus, features local and national speakers presenting academic research on contemporary questions of race and intersecting dimensions of difference. The James Weldon Johnson Institute is pleased to have the Robert W. Woodruff Library and the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript and Rare Book Library as major co-sponsors of the Colloquium Series.

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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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Discourses of Citizenship in American and Brazilian Affirmative Action Court Decisions

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2017-01-08 20:02Z by Steven

Discourses of Citizenship in American and Brazilian Affirmative Action Court Decisions

American Journal of Comparative Law
Volume 64, Number 2, (Summer 2016)
pages 455-504
DOI: 10.5131/AJCL.2016.0015

Adilson José Moreira
Harvard University; Mackenzie Presbyterian University

American and Brazilian courts are traveling quite different paths regarding the question of racial justice. Race neutrality has become an influential interpretive approach in both jurisdictions, a perspective that articulates a depiction of these nations as culturally homogenous societies with the defense of liberal principles as a necessary requirement for social cohesion. Because of the representation of Brazil and the United States as democracies that facilitate integration of all racial groups, courts in these countries have developed an equal protection approach that combines the rhetoric of assimilation and formal equality. However, while the discourse of race neutrality gains continuous political force in the United States, race consciousness is acquiring increasing persuasive power in Brazil. As the implementation of affirmative action programs has expanded into different sectors, various social actors have questioned their constitutionality. Although state and federal courts in Brazil have condemned affirmative action because it supposedly subverts liberal principles and moral consensus about equal racial treatment, the Brazilian Supreme Court has recently classified race neutrality as a strategy of racial domination. Differently from American affirmative action cases, this decision formulated a notion of citizenship that functions as a counterhegemonic narrative. In articulating progressive constitutional principles and a group-oriented equal protection perspective, the Brazilian Supreme Court has significantly contributed to the deconstruction of the traditional discourse of race transcendence. The Court’s decisions may serve as an interesting point of comparison for the debate about affirmative action in the United States, since Brazilian history shows very clearly how race neutrality allows majoritarian groups to defend racial privilege while advocating formal equality as a way to promote social inclusion.

Read the entire article here.

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‘The Beautiful Faces of my Black People’: race, ethnicity and the politics of Colombia’s 2005 census

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2017-01-06 02:22Z by Steven

‘The Beautiful Faces of my Black People’: race, ethnicity and the politics of Colombia’s 2005 census

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Volume 36, 2013 – Issue 10: Rethinking Race, Racism, Identity, and Ideology in Latin America
Pages 1544-1563
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2013.791398

Tianna S. Paschel, Assistant Professor of African American Studies
University of California, Berkeley

The recent multicultural turn in Latin America has made the census a key site of struggle for both recognition and resources. Drawing on document analysis and ethnographic methods, this paper examines the politics around Colombia’s 2005 census. I argue that Afro-Colombian organizations were successful in pressuring the state to move beyond the purely cultural notions of blackness institutionalized in the 1991 constitution and toward a broader ethno-racial Afro-Colombian category in the 2005 census. However, their success required them not only to situate their claims in international mandates and domestic law, but also to grapple with competing definitions of blackness within the movement itself. In this way, the Afro-Colombian movement has been an important actor in shaping how ‘official’ ethno-racial categories are made and remade in Colombia. This case not only sheds light on the politics of multiculturalism in Latin America more generally, but raises questions about how we understand ‘race’ versus ‘ethnicity’.

Read the entire article here.

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National Colors: Racial Classification and the State in Latin America [Review]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2017-01-06 01:16Z by Steven

National Colors: Racial Classification and the State in Latin America [Review]

Sociology of Race and Ethnicity
Volume 3, Issue 1, (January 2017)
pages 141-145
DOI: 10.1177/2332649216676789

Mark Q. Sawyer, Associate Professor of Political Science
University of California, Los Angeles

Mara Loveman, National Colors: Racial Classification and the State in Latin America. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2014. 376 pp. $26.95. ISBN 978-0-19-933736-1

States, and in particular Latin American states, have been classified by race. National Colors: Racial Classification and the State in Latin America by Mara Loveman seeks to answer how and why states do so. The book is remarkable for its depth and scope, analyzing several countries essentially from some of the earliest colonial attempts at measurement driven by central authorities to contemporary census policies that may follow the dictates of social movements and international organizations.

Loveman rightly argues that states do not make race out of nothing but rather pick recognizable signs of human variation and endow them with characteristics and also use these axes as a means of allocating social value, either formally or informally. Loveman notes there can be slippage between state, personal, and socially recognized categorization, given all parties have different ideologies and incentives with regard to categorization. However, out of the cacophony emerge dominant discourses and ideas that define race for groups of people that come to be defined as discrete populations. But the Latin American story is not without complications at various historical points. Different logics have driven state categorization, and the state may not formally categorize at all.

Mara Loveman argues that the census first reflected colonial issues and concerns. It buttressed national projects developed by state elites. Colonial administrators saw populations as “key resources” to be enumerated. Racial categories imposed by colonial authorities identified the civilized and the uncivilized and in many cases outlined castes and detailed racial-ethnic mixtures and hierarchies that in different forms have remained part of the racial lexicon in Latin America. Loveman follows what has become the growing orthodoxy applied to historical and contemporary race in Latin America. She correctly finds that colonial authorities constructed and maintained elaborate racial hierarchies, which related to forced labor, land dispossession, and social and economic discrimination. Categories thus had material and symbolic consequences.

Loveman joins scholars like Michael Hanchard, Edward Telles, Peter Wade, Melissa Nobles, Tianna Paschel, Christina Sue, and Tanya Golash-Boza, who document both the ways in which white elites maintained racial hierarchies using the state, and how blacks, Indians, and mixed-raced individuals resisted categorization and racial discrimination in big and small ways…

Read the entire review 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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