The racist face of Brazil’s miscegenation

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Social Science on 2014-07-10 16:33Z by Steven

The racist face of Brazil’s miscegenation

Black Women of Brazil: The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent
2013-05-22

Jarid Arraes
Cariri, Ceará, Brasil

The issue of miscegenation in Brazil is often oversimplified and romanticized. It is not uncommon to hear that Brazil is a mestiço (mixed race) and plural country and, consequently, all its inhabitants had their ethnicity inevitably mixed at some point in their ancestry. But under the axiom of a mixed country hides a violent and racist reality: the generalization of whiteness in a predominantly black country.

If all Brazilians are mixed and have black and Indian blood in their veins, why are many people reluctant to recognize their own ancestry?…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: ,

On the Mexican Mestizo

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico on 2014-07-05 21:10Z by Steven

On the Mexican Mestizo

Latin American Research Review
Volume 14, Number 3 (1979)
pages 153-168

John K. Chance, Professor of Anthropology
Arizona State Univerisity

No one with even a passing acquaintance with the literature on Mexican society, not to mention the rest of Spanish America, can fail to be impressed by the frequent use of the term mestizo. Despite its ubiquity in the writings of social scientists, however, the concept of the mestizo is customarily employed in a vague fashion and usually left undefined. This is especially evident in the work of anthropologists, who for many years have been preoccupied with defining the Mexican Indian but have rarely focused their analytical powers on the mestizo. The term itself has been used rather loosely to refer to a certain group of people who presumably comprise a majority of the Mexican population, a cultural pattern shared by these people and other Latin Americans, and even a personality type.

Ethnographers frequently refer to the communities they study as being either Indian or mestizo, but rarely do they provide enough information to allow us to decide whether these are viable identities for the people themselves or distinct cultural configurations. Usually, when used as an adjective, “mestizo” is simply a shorthand descriptive term employed by the investigator. In this context, it is little more than a catch-all designation meaning non-Indian and non-Spanish, sometimes implying as well an identification with Mexican national culture. One wonders how social scientists concerned with Mexico and its people could ever get along without the term, despite the fact that it is only infrequently used by Mexicans themselves. Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán remarks: “In all cases when [Mexicans] are explicitly asked if they consider themselves mestizos, only the educated ones, that is, the intellectuals or persons who have had contact with large urban centers, agree that they are; the ordinary person is not familiar with the term or gives it another meaning.”

It seems clear that the term rarely, if at all, refers to a viable ethnic identity in Mexico today. When called upon to distinguish themselves from people of indigenous background, Mexicans are more likely to call themselves gente de razon, gente decente, vecinos, catrines, correctos, or simply mexicanos. Yet it is obviously impossible to dismiss the concept of the mestizo altogether, for it has played an important part in the rise of Mexican nationalism, and the term itself appears frequently in historical documents, particularly those of the colonial period. This paper is not directly concerned with the current usage of the term among Mexicans themselves, nor will it deal with the concept as it is used by modern ethnographers. The goal is rather to clarify the place of the mestizo in Mexican history, particularly the colonial period. While most of the data presented pertain to a single city—Oaxaca, or Antequera in colonial times—it will be argued that a similar pattern probably existed in other cities of what was once known as New Spain. The basic contention is that the historical continuity assumed by many between the colonial and modern mestizo does not in fact exist if we pay close attention to how people were racially classified in Mexican cities during the seventeenth, eighteenth, and early nineteenth centuries.

By far the most influential work in English that is based on this assumption is the chapter entitled “The Power Seekers” of Eric Wolf’s classic Sons of the Shaking Earth. Because Wolf’s portrait of the genesis of the mestizo and his role in the making of modern Mexico has been so influential, I will use it as a foil at many points for the development of my argument. The criticism of Wolf’s account, however, is not intended to belittle what I regard as a masterly synthesis of Mesoamerican culture history. Indeed, though it was written twenty years ago, Sons of the Shaking Earth remains remarkably current in many respects. But some of the ideas could stand revision, and this paper will attempt to show that Wolf’s treatment of the mestizo now needs to be reformulated in view of recent evidence…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,

Mexico boasts a staggering genetic diversity, study shows

Posted in Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Mexico on 2014-07-02 01:45Z by Steven

Mexico boasts a staggering genetic diversity, study shows

Los Angeles Times
2014-06-12

Geoffrey Mohan

SHARELINES

▼ DNA offers a nuanced answer to what it means to be Mexican
▼ Ancient genetic signal survived conquest in Mexico
▼ Latino and Hispanic labels don’t do justice to Mexico’s genome

Writers, artists and historians have long pondered what it means to be Mexican. Now science has offered its answer, and it could change how medicine uses racial and ethnic categories to assess disease risk, testing and treatment..

The broadest analysis of the Mexican genome ever undertaken reveals a nation of staggering genetic diversity, where European conquest only thinly masks the ancestral DNA of Native Americans, and where some populations remain as distinct from one another as Europeans are from Chinese, according to findings published Thursday in the journal Science.

Forty researchers, who share Latino heritage as well as professional qualms over the significance of ethnic and racial categories, teamed up across borders to analyze more than 1 million variations in the building blocks of DNA. They examined more than 500 samples collected in Mexico’s remote Indian villages and polyglot cities, and from Mexican Americans in California.

“Because these populations are so rich, so genetically differentiated, you can’t just lump them all in,” said lead investigator Carlos Bustamante, a population geneticist and co-director of Stanford University’s Center for Computational, Evolutionary and Human Genomics. “You really have to embrace that diversity and think about doing medical genetic studies on a very large scale.”

To illustrate their point, the researchers compared their new genetic data with the results of lung function tests for children in Mexico City and Latinos in the San Francisco Bay Area. They discovered that pulmonary function varied in ways that were mirrored in DNA. It was as if someone with a fraction of Maya ancestry had lungs that were 10 years older than someone with a bit of northern indigenous heritage…

…Researchers not involved in the study, however, caution that correlations between disease risk and ancestry may not have much of a genetic basis at all. In many cases, they might mask socioeconomic or environmental factors — where and how you live.

The suggestion that differences in DNA are responsible for observed differences in lung capacity “is an enormous leap,” said UC Berkeley sociologist Troy Duster, who has written extensively on the intersection of race, biology and public policy.

Lundy Braun, an Africana studies professor at Brown University who studies the intersection of race and medicine, said medicine’s focus on genetics may be overshadowing other avenues of research.

“The effects of social class on lung function have been largely ignored in favor of the focus on race and ethnic difference,” she said.

Braun and Duster worry that such genomic studies may unwittingly lend legitimacy to widely discredited ideas about racial disparities.

“There is always lurking danger that this kind of research, which emphasizes the genetic structure of ethnic and racial groups, fuels the notion that the biology or genetics of those groups explains their condition,” Duster said…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Implications of Genetic Diversity in Mexico

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Mexico on 2014-07-01 01:13Z by Steven

Implications of Genetic Diversity in Mexico

Biopolitical Times
Center for Genetics and Society
2014-06-25

Pete Shanks

The category Latino is a valid cultural artifact, and often self-identified. But it’s not really a race in any modern sense of the term, and the genetic evidence surely shows that it is far too broad a grouping to be scientifically appropriate without serious qualification. Yet it is used, even in some current peer-reviewed papers.

One that does not use the term is an article published in Science this month on the genetics of Mexico. The country’s population is large and ethnically, linguistically, geographically, economically and culturally diverse. It is also genetically complex, and this article by a large and distinguished team of scientists provides new details. It also suggests some important implications for genomic research and likely for personalized medicine in general:

The genetics of Mexico recapitulates Native American substructure and affects biomedical traits

The study included 511 Native Mexican individuals from 20 indigenous groups, and 500 mestizo (mixed-race) individuals from ten states; nearly a million SNPs were analyzed for each. The variation was striking…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,

Neymar and the Disappearing Donkey

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science on 2014-06-30 21:48Z by Steven

Neymar and the Disappearing Donkey

Africa is a Country
2014-06-17

Achal Prabhala
Bangalore, India

By the time you read this, it’s possible that every single person on the planet will know who Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior is…

…You could come to any number of conclusions from Neymar’s remarkable transformation. For instance, you could conclude that race doesn’t exist in Brazil, which is the favourite line of a specific tribe of Brazilians – impeccable liberals all, who just happen to be upper-class, white and at the top of the heap.

Or you could conclude that everyone in Brazil is indeed mixed – which is, incidentally, the second-favourite line of the selfsame tribe.

Or you could wonder what happened to this boy.

***

It’s too easy to condemn Neymar for pretending to be white: judging by the images, he is partly white. It’s silly to accuse him of denying his mixed-race ancestry, because the simplest search throws up hundreds of images of him as a child, none of which he seems to be ashamed of. There is this: when asked if he had ever been a victim of racism, he said, “Never. Neither inside nor outside the field. Because I’m not black right?”

Actually, the word he used was preto, which is significant, since, in Brazil, when used as a colour ascribed to people – rather than things, like rice or beans – it is the equivalent of the n-word; negro and negra being the acceptable ways of describing someone who is truly black. (And moreno or morena being standard descriptors for someone dark-skinned, as well as, occasionally, euphemisms for blackness). Technically speaking, however, his logic was faultless – and even kind of interestingly honest: the Neymar who made that statement was an unworldly eighteen-year-old who had never lived outside Brazil. And in Brazil, Neymar is not black…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

Black Identity and Racism Collide in Brazil

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science on 2014-06-18 08:13Z by Steven

Black Identity and Racism Collide in Brazil

The Root
2014-06-17

Dion Rabouin

The country’s complex history with race gains the spotlight as the World Cup attempts to address the recent wave of racist attacks against black players.

Before teams representing their countries from around the world arrived in Brazil, the country’s president, Dilma Rousseff, took the opportunity to label 2014 the “anti-racism World Cup.”

The declaration came after a wave of racist incidents in soccer around the world targeting black players, many of whom are Brazilian. While it’s a well-intentioned gesture and a particularly important one for a World Cup being hosted in the country that’s home to the largest population of people of African descent outside of Africa, Brazil has a complex past and present when it comes to race.

That complexity can perhaps best be illustrated by the fact that many black Brazilians don’t think of themselves as black. Brazilian soccer star Neymar is a great example. Asked during an interview in 2010 if he had ever experienced racism, his response was, “Never.” He added, “Not inside nor outside of the soccer field. Even more because I’m not black, right?”

This denial of blackness may seem confusing to many Americans, because despite his long, straightened and occasionally blond hair, Neymar is clearly black. (Take a look at a picture of young Neymar with his family.) But for Brazilians, being black is very different from what it is in the United States.

“The darker a person is in Brazil, the more racism she or he is going to suffer. Light-skinned black people don’t identify as black most of the time,” says Daniela Gomes, a black Brazilian activist who is currently pursuing a doctorate in African Diaspora studies at the University of Texas. “A lot of people choose to deny their blackness. They don’t believe they are black, but they suffer racism without knowing why.”

Gomes calls it a “brainwash” that Brazilians go through in a country that likes to hold itself up as a model for racial harmony. But she also points to differences in the histories of the United States and Brazil. “We never had segregation, we never had the one-drop rule, we never had those kinds of things that are so normal for an African American,” she said. “What happened in Brazil was the opposite.”

Integration and miscegenation were actually government policy in Brazil. Around the time that slaves were freed, in 1888, the government sought to whiten its population through the importation of European immigrants. This idea was made law by Decree 528 in 1890 and opened the country’s borders to foreign immigrants, except for those from Africa and Asia…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,

Japanese Brazilians celebrate mixed heritage

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive on 2014-06-18 07:43Z by Steven

Japanese Brazilians celebrate mixed heritage

Al Jazeera
2014-06-17

Jillian Kestler-D’Amour, Online Producer

Sao Paulo, Brazil – The room was a mixture of Brazilian green and yellow and Japanese red and white, as more than 200 members of the city’s large Japanese community turned out to watch the country of their ancestors take on Cote d’Ivoire in both teams’ World Cup opening match.

Chants of Japao! (Japan in Portuguese) rang out through the crowd, which was dominated by navy jerseys with the names Honda, Toshio, Takaya, Shiota, and Kagawa affixed to the back. The room erupted when Japanese star Keisuke Honda put the Samurai Blue ahead in the first half, but fans were ultimately stunned when Cote d’Ivoire scored twice in two minutes to win, 2-1.

“I feel very proud that Japan is in the World Cup and that we can host them here in Brazil,” said Analia Kita, before the game began. Wife of Kihatino Kita, the director of the Japanese-Brazilian Association that hosted the screening, Analia said she has tickets to cheer on Japan when the team takes on Switzerland next week in Natal.

“Between Japan and Brazil, it’s going to be very hard to choose [my favourite],” she said laughing. “But it’s going to have to be Brazil. I’m Brazilian.”…

…Dual identities

“We can characterise it as a mixture. We have 106 years of immigration and in this time, we have seen the mixture and integration of the Japanese culture in Brazil,” explained Celia Sakurai, a researcher on Japanese-Brazilian community and culture.

Born in Sao Paulo where she lives today, Sakurai told Al Jazeera that Japanese influence on Brazil’s culture can be viewed through the popularity of anime, Manga comics, and haikai (the Portuguese-language version of a haiku), the practise of judo and taeko (traditional Japanese drumming), and other arts…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

People from Mexico show stunning amount of genetic diversity

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Mexico on 2014-06-16 13:58Z by Steven

People from Mexico show stunning amount of genetic diversity

Science
2014-06-12

Lizzie Wade, Latin America Correspondent

Imagine if people from Kansas and California were as genetically distinct from each other as someone from Germany is from someone from Japan. That’s the kind of remarkable genetic variation that scientists have now found within Mexico, thanks to the first fine-scale study of human genetic variation in that country. This local diversity could help researchers trace the history of the country’s different indigenous populations and help them develop better diagnostic tools and medical treatments for people of Mexican descent living all over the world.

The team has done a “tremendous job” of creating a “blueprint of all the genetic diversity in Mexico,” says Bogdan Pasaniuc, a population geneticist at the University of California (UC), Los Angeles, who was not involved in the research…

…When the team analyzed the genomes of 511 indigenous individuals from all over Mexico, they found a striking amount of genetic diversity. The most divergent indigenous groups in Mexico are as different from each other as Europeans are from East Asians, they report online today in Science. This diversity maps onto the geography of Mexico itself. The farther away ethnic groups live from each other, the more different their genomes turn out to be.

But most people in Mexico or of Mexican descent these days are not indigenous but rather mestizo, meaning they have a mixture of indigenous, European, and African ancestry. Do their genomes also vary by what region of Mexico they come from, or has all that local variation been smoothed out by centuries of different groups meeting, mixing, and having babies?…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: ,

Black In The Dominican Republic: Denying Blackness

Posted in Anthropology, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Social Science, Videos on 2014-06-11 20:11Z by Steven

Black In The Dominican Republic: Denying Blackness

HuffPost Live
The Huffington Post
2014-06-10

Marc Lamont Hill, Host

In Latin America and Caribbean countries like the Dominican Republic many deny being of African decent, despite 90 percent of the population possessing black ancestry. Where has the blackness gone in the region?

Guests:

  • Biany Perez (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) Graduate Student at Bryn Mawr College
  • Christopher Pimentel (New York , New York) Finance Student at Baruch College
  • Robin Derby (Los Angeles, California) Associate Professor of History, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Kimberly Eison Simmons (Columbia, South Carolina) Associate Professor, Anthropology and African American Studies, University of South Carolina
  • Silvio Torres-Saillant (Syracuse, New York) Professor of English, Syracuse University

 

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

World Cup Racism Undercuts Brazil ‘We Are Equal’ Campaign

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science on 2014-06-09 20:59Z by Steven

World Cup Racism Undercuts Brazil ‘We Are Equal’ Campaign

Bloomberg News
2014-05-30

Tariq Panjq
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Anna Edgerton
Brasilia, Brazil

It was just a regular evening of monkey noises and racial slurs for Brazilian soccer referee Marcio Chagas. Then he left to go home.

As he entered the parking lot after overseeing the March 6 state championship game in Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil’s south, the black physical education teacher found his tormentors had vandalized his car and piled bananas on the windshield. One was inserted into the exhaust pipe.

“I felt offended, like I’d been the victim of violence,” Chagas, 37, said by telephone from his home in Porto Alegre. “It was a cowardly act because I couldn’t defend myself. The jeering is normal. This kind of action was new for me.”

Racism in soccer came to the fore over the past month when Brazilian defender Daniel Alves ate a banana thrown at him by a fan while playing for Barcelona in the Spanish league. While the incident caused an uproar back home in Brazil, the outpouring of support masked how far the World Cup host has to go to eliminate prejudice in the country with the largest black population in the world after Nigeria.

Acts of racism in soccer stadiums have tarnished the image of tolerance that the government is trying to portray, according to Jorge da Silva, a political science professor at the Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro.

“Brazilians are used to saying that Brazil is a racial democracy: That’s just a myth,” da Silva said. “If you go to an elegant shopping center you won’t find black people there, not even working. If you board a plane in Brazil you will not see black people working, maybe one or two, let alone as passengers.”

Antiracism Message

In a country whose most famous person is black soccer icon Pelé, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is planning to use next month’s World Cup, played in 12 new and refurbished stadiums across the country, to promote the antiracism message. An advertisement currently on Brazilian television has the following tagline: “The cup of cups without racism.”

“Such a multicultural country, where all of the world’s races may be found, provides the possibility for interventions against racism and discrimination,” she said in January after meeting soccer governing body President Sepp Blatter.

Blatter said in an interview posted online by FIFA today that he will ask member associations to ratify tougher rules against racist behavior at a meeting in Sao Paulo on June 11.

In 2011 Brazil’s census showed for the first time its population was majority black and mixed race, with 51 percent declaring themselves as such…

…Determining who is black isn’t easy.

European settlers, mainly from Portugal, brought almost 5 million slaves to the country between 1502 and 1867, almost half of all Africans entering the new world and 10 times the number headed to the U.S. Interracial marriage was common and an official policy of “whitening” the population by inviting Europeans to the country until the middle 20th century has meant there are a more than 100 definitions of skin color, according to a government survey.

In a case at the University of Brasilia, identical twins in 2007 applied for entry as part of a quota system the institution has introduced. Only one was deemed black…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,