Land of the cosmic race: race mixture, racism, and blackness in Mexico [Villarreal Review]

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Social Science on 2014-08-28 20:37Z by Steven

Land of the cosmic race: race mixture, racism, and blackness in Mexico [Villarreal Review]

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Volume 37, Issue 10, 2014
Special Issue: Ethnic and Racial Studies Review
pages 1989-1991
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2014.920094

Andrés Villarreal, Professor of Sociology
University of Maryland, College Park

Land of the cosmic race: race mixture, racism, and blackness in Mexico, by Christina A. Sue, New York, Oxford University Press, 2013, xi + 234 pp., £15.99 (paperback), ISBN 978-0-19-992550-6

A powerful official ideology promoted by the Mexican Government since the early twentieth century glorifies the mestizo, defined as the descendant of both indigenous and Spanish peoples, as a symbol of national identity. This same ideology holds racism to be inexistent in contemporary Mexico, and negates the contribution of individuals of African descent to Mexican history and to the racial make-up of the nation. Despite the importation of many thousands of slaves during the colonial period, blacks have been essentially erased from the national consciousness. Christina Sue’s outstanding ethnographic study uncovers how Mexican men and women work to reconcile this official national ideology which they vehemently espouse, with their own lived experiences in which individuals with a darker skin tone are routinely discriminated in everyday life, and in which African ancestry is clearly evident in some regions of the country.

Research on racial attitudes in Indo-Latin American countries such as Mexico has focused mostly on the mestizo–indigenous dichotomy. However, Sue convincingly argues that distinctions along a colour continuum within the mestizo population have an important effect on individuals’ life chances. Framing discussions in terms of colour rather than race allows many Mexicans to make comparisons without violating the national ideology according to which racial classifications are no longer relevant.

In contrast to the official ideology of non-racism, Sue finds evidence of tremendous racial prejudice among her subjects in the coastal city of Veracruz. Veracruzanos with a lighter skin tone enjoy preferential treatment socially and in work settings. Employers often code their preference for workers with lighter skin tones by soliciting candidates with ‘good presentation’, a term whose meaning is fully known by job applicants. Racial prejudice is also evident within family units. Family members use a variety of gatekeeping techniques to prevent the entry of dark-skinned individuals into their families through marriage. A woman interviewed by Sue reports that her mother-in-law refuses to speak to her because she is darker than her husband (94). Veracruzanos also agonize over children inheriting the phenotype of a darker parent. Reflecting the disappointment that his daughter inherited his darker skin tone, one father notes: ‘I wouldn’t have cared if she was ugly like me, but I wanted her to have green eyes … like her mother or be light like her mother. But she came out ugly like me’ (74). As in other parts of Latin America, Sue finds that Veracruzanos systematically equate whiteness with beauty and higher social standing. Darker family members are routinely insulted and devalued, while lighter members receive more resources and attention…

Read the entire review here.

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Race and Racisms: A Critical Approach

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Asian Diaspora, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Communications/Media Studies, Economics, Europe, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Latino Studies, Law, Media Archive, Mexico, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, Social Science, South Africa, United States, Women on 2014-08-22 20:45Z by Steven

Race and Racisms: A Critical Approach

Oxford University Press
2014-08-01
528 pages
7-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches
Paperback ISBN: 9780199920013

Tanya Maria Golash-Boza, Associate Professor of Sociology
University of California, Merced

Race and Racisms: A Critical Approach engages students in critical questions related to racial dynamics in the U.S. and around the world. Written in accessible, straightforward language, the book discusses and critically analyzes cutting-edge scholarship in the field. Organized into topics and concepts rather than discrete racial groups, the text addresses:

  • How and when the idea of race was created and developed
  • How structural racism has worked historically to reproduce inequality
  • How we have a society rampant with racial inequality, even though most people do not consider themselves to be racist
  • How race, class, and gender work together to create inequality and identities
  • How immigration policy in the United States has been racialized
  • How racial justice could be imagined and realized

Centrally focused on racial dynamics, Race and Racisms also incorporates an intersectional perspective, discussing the intersections of racism, patriarchy, and capitalism.

Table of Contents

  • List of Excerpts
  • Letter from the Author
  • About the Author
  • Preface
  • Part I: The History of the Idea of Race
    • 1. The Origin of the Idea of Race
      • Defining Race and Racism
      • Race: The Evolution of an Ideology
      • Historical Precedents to the Idea of Race
      • Slavery Before the Idea of Race
      • European Encounters with Indigenous Peoples of the Americas
      • Voices: The Spanish Treatment of Indigenous Peoples
      • The Enslavement of Africans
      • The Need for Labor in the Thirteen Colonies
      • The Legal Codification of Racial Differences
      • Voices: From Bullwhip Days
      • The Rise of Science and the Question of Human Difference
      • European Taxonomies
      • Scientific Racism in the Nineteenth Century
      • The Indian Removal Act: The Continuation of Manifest Destiny
      • Freedom and Slavery in the United States
      • Global View: The Idea of Race in Latin America
    • 2. Race and Citizenship from the 1840s to the 1920s
      • The Continuation of Scientific Racism
      • Measuring Race: From Taxonomy to Measurement
      • Intelligence Testing
      • Eugenics
      • Voices: Carrie Buck
      • Exclusionary Immigration Policies
      • The Chinese Exclusion Act
      • The Johnson-Reed Act of 1924
      • Birthright Citizenship for Whites Only
      • Naturalization for “Free White People”
      • How the Irish, Italians, and Jews Became White
      • The Irish: From Celts to Whites
      • The Italians: From Mediterraneans to Caucasians
      • The Jews: From Hebrews to White
      • African Americans and Native Americans: The Long, Troubled Road to Citizenship
      • African Americans and the Long Road to Freedom
      • Native Americans: Appropriating Lands, Assimilating Tribes
  • Part II: Racial Ideologies
    • 3. Racial Ideologies from the 1920s to the Present
      • Voices: Trayvon Martin
      • The 1920s to 1965: Egregious Acts in the Era of Overt Racism
      • Mass Deportation of Mexicans and Mexican Americans
      • Internment of Japanese and Japanese Americans
      • Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment
      • Voices: Fred Toyosaburo Korematsu
      • The Civil Rights Movement and the Commitment to Change
      • Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott
      • Sit-Ins
      • Freedom Rides
      • Old Versus New Racism: The Evolution of an Ideology
      • Biological Racism
      • Cultural Racism
      • Color-Blind Universalism
      • Global View: Cultural Racism in Peru
      • The Maintenance of Racial Hierarchy: Color-Blind Racism
      • Four Frames of Color-Blind Racism
      • Rhetorical Strategies of Color-Blind Racism
      • The New Politics of Race: Racism in the Age of Obama
    • 4. The Spread of Ideology: “Controlling Images” and Racism in the Media
      • Portrayals of People of Color on Television and in Other Media
      • Portrayals of Blacks
      • Portrayals of Latino/as
      • Research Focus: The Hot Latina Stereotype in Desperate Housewives
      • Portrayals of Arabs and Arab Americans
      • Portrayals of Asians and Asian Americans
      • Portrayals of Native Americans
      • Racial Stereotypes in Films
      • Global View: Racial Stereotypes in Peruvian Television
      • New Media Representations
      • Video Games
      • Social Media
      • Voices: I Am Not Trayvon Martin
      • Media Images and Racial Inequality
      • Raced, Classed, and Gendered Media Images
    • 5. Colorism and Skin-Color Stratification
      • The History of Colorism
      • Research Focus: Latino Immigrants and the U.S. Racial Order
      • The Origins of Colorism in the Americas
      • Does Colorism Predate Colonialism? The Origins of Colorism in Asia and Africa
      • The Global Color Hierarchy
      • Asia and Asian Americans
      • Latin America and Latinos/as
      • Voices: The Fair-Skin Battle
      • Africa and the African Diaspora
      • Voices: Colorism and Creole Identity
      • Skin Color, Gender, and Beauty
    • 6. White Privilege and the Changing U.S. Racial Hierarchy
      • White Privilege
      • Research Focus: White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
      • Whiteness, Class, Gender, and Sexuality
      • Whiteness and Racial Categories in Twenty-First-Century America
      • Latino/as and the Multiracial Hierarchy
      • The Other Whites: Arab Americans, North Africans, Middle Easterners, and Their Place in the U.S. Racial Hierarchy
      • Multiracial Identification and the U.S. Racial Hierarchy
      • Voices: Brandon Stanford: “My Complexion Is Not Black but I Am Black”
      • Will the United States Continue to Be a White-Majority Society?
      • Global View: Social, Cultural, and Intergenerational Whitening in Latin America
      • Changes in Racial and Ethnic Classifications
      • Revisiting the Definitions of Race and Ethnicity
  • Part III: Policy & Institutions
    • 7. Understanding Racial Inequality Today: Socio logical Theories of Racism
      • Racial Discrimination, Prejudice, and Institutional Racism
      • Individual Racism
      • Voices: Microaggressions
      • Institutional Racism
      • Global View: Microaggressions in Peru
      • Systemic and Structural Racism
      • Systemic Racism
      • Structural Racism
      • Research Focus: Systemic Racism and Hurricane Katrina
      • Racial Formation: Its Contributions and Its Critics
      • White Supremacy and Settler Colonialism
      • Research Focus: Applying Settler Colonialism Theory
      • Intersectional Theories of Race and Racism
    • 8. Educational Inequality
      • The History of Educational Inequality
      • Indian Schools
      • Segregation and Landmark Court Cases
      • The Persistence of Racial Segregation in the Educational System
      • Affirmative Action in Higher Education
      • Educational Inequality Today
      • Research Focus: American Indian/Alaska Native College Student Retention
      • The Achievement Gap: Sociological Explanations for Persistent Inequality
      • Global View: Affirmative Action in Brazil
      • Parental Socioeconomic Status
      • Cultural Explanations: “Acting White” and Other Theories
      • Tracking
      • Social and Cultural Capital and Schooling
      • Hidden Curricula
      • Voices: Moesha
      • Research Focus: Rosa Parks Elementary and the Hidden Curriculum
    • 9. Income and Labor Market Inequality
      • Income Inequality by Race, Ethnicity, and Gender
      • Dimensions of Racial Disparities in the Labor Market
      • Disparities Among Women
      • Disparities Among Latinos and Asian Americans
      • Underemployment, Unemployment, and Joblessness
      • Voices: Jarred
      • Sociological Explanations for Income and Labor Market Inequality
      • Voices: Francisco Pinto’s Experiences in 3-D Jobs
      • Individual-Level Explanations
      • Structural Explanations
      • Research Focus: Discrimination in a Low-Wage Labor Market
      • Affirmative Action
      • Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment 260
      • Global View: Racial Discrimination in Australia
    • 10. Inequality in Housing and Wealth
      • Land Ownership After Slavery
      • Residential Segregation
      • The Creation of Residential Segregation
      • Discriminatory and Predatory Lending Practices
      • Research Focus: The Role of Real Estate in Creating Segregated Cities
      • Neighborhood Segregation Today
      • Voices: A Tale of Two Families
      • Wealth Inequality
      • Inequality in Homeownership and Home Values
      • Wealth Inequality Beyond Homeownership
      • Explaining the Wealth Gap in the Twenty-First Century
    • 11. Racism and the Criminal Justice System
      • Mass Incarceration in the United States
      • The Rise of Mass Incarceration
      • Mass Incarceration in a Global Context
      • Race and Mass Incarceration
      • Global View: Prisons in Germany and the Netherlands
      • The Inefficacy of Mass Incarceration
      • Voices: Kemba Smith
      • Mass Incarceration and the War on Drugs
      • Race, Class, Gender, and Mass Incarceration
      • Institutional Racism in the Criminal Justice System
      • Racial Profiling
      • Sentencing Disparities
      • The Ultimate Sentence: Racial Disparities in the Death Penalty
      • Voices: Troy Davis
      • The Economics of Mass Incarceration
      • Private Prisons
      • The Prison-Industrial Complex
      • Beyond Incarceration: Collateral Consequences
      • The Impact of Mass Incarceration on Families and Children
      • The Lifelong Stigma of a Felony: “The New Jim Crow”
      • Research Focus: Can Felons Get Jobs?
    • 12. Health Inequalities, Environmental Racism, and Environmental Justice
      • The History of Health Disparities in the United States
      • Involuntary Experimentation on African Americans
      • Free Blacks as Mentally and Physically Unfit
      • Explaining Health Disparities by Race and Ethnicity Today
      • Socioeconomic Status and Health Disparities by Race/Ethnicity
      • Segregation and Health
      • Research Focus: Health and Social Inequity in Alameda County, California
      • The Effects of Individual Racism on the Health of African Americans
      • Life-Course Perspectives on African American Health
      • Culture and Health
      • Global View: Health and Structural Violence in Guatemala
      • Genetics, Race, and Health
      • Voices: Race, Poverty, and Postpartum Depression
      • Environmental Racism
      • Movements for Environmental Justice
      • Voices: The Holt Family of Dickson, Tennessee
    • 13. Racism, Nativism, and Immigration Policy
      • Voices: Robert Bautista-Denied Due Process
      • The Racialized History of U.S. Immigration Policy
      • Race and the Making of U.S. Immigration Policies: 1790 to 1924
      • Global View: Whitening and Immigration Policy in Brazil
      • Nativism Between 1924 and 1964: Mass Deportation of Mexicans and the McCarran Internal Security Act
      • The 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act and the Changing Face of Immigration
      • Illegal Immigration and Policy Response
      • The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA ) and Nativism
      • Proposition 187 and the Lead-Up to the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (II RIRA)
      • The 1996 Laws and the Detention and Deportation of Black and Latino Immigrants
      • Voices: Hector, a Guatemalan Deportee
      • Nativism in the Twenty-First Century
  • Part IV: Contesting & Comparing Racial Injustices
    • 14. Racial Justice in the United States Today
      • Perspectives on Racial Justice
      • Recognition, Responsibility, Reconstruction, and Reparations
      • Civil Rights
      • Human Rights
      • Moving Beyond Race
      • Intersectional Analyses: Race, Class, Gender
      • Racism and Capitalism
      • Struggles for Racial Justice
      • Racial Justice and the Foreclosure Crisis
      • DREAMers and the Fight for Justice
      • Voices: Fighting Against Foreclosures: A Racial Justice Story
      • Racial Justice and Empathy
    • 15. Thinking Globally: Race and Racisms in France, South Africa, and Brazil
      • How Do Other Countries Differ from the United States in Racial Dynamics?
      • Race and Racism in France
      • French Colonies in Africa
      • The French Antilles
      • African Immigration to France
      • Discrimination and Racial and Ethnic Inequality in France Today
      • Voices: The Fall 2005 Uprisings in the French Banlieues
      • Race and Racism in South Africa
      • Colonialism in South Africa: The British and the Dutch
      • The Apartheid Era (1948-1994)
      • The Persistence of Inequality in the Post-Apartheid Era
      • Research Focus: The Politics of White Youth Identity in South Africa
      • Race and Racism in Brazil
      • Portuguese Colonization and the Slave Trade in Brazil
      • Whitening Through Immigration and Intermarriage
      • The Racial Democracy Myth in Brazil and Affirmative Action
      • Racial Categories in Brazil Today
      • Research Focus: Racial Ideology and Black-White Interracial Marriages in Rio de Janeiro
  • Glossary
  • References
  • Credits
  • Index
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Global Mixed Race

Posted in Africa, Anthologies, Anthropology, Asian Diaspora, Books, Canada, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Europe, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom, United States on 2014-08-18 02:29Z by Steven

Global Mixed Race

New York University Press
March 2014
357 pages
Cloth ISBN: 9780814770733
Paper ISBN: 9780814789155

Edited by:

Rebecca Chiyoko King-O’Riain, Senior Lecturer
National University of Ireland, Maynooth

Stephen Small, Associate Professor of African American Studies
University of California, Berkeley

Minelle Mahtani, Associate Professor in the Department of Human Geography and the Program in Journalism
University of Toronto, Scarborough

Miri Song, Professor of Sociology
University of Kent

Paul Spickard, Professor of History and Affiliate Professor of Black Studies, Asian American Studies, East Asian Studies, Religious Studies, and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies
University of California, Santa Barbara

Patterns of migration and the forces of globalization have brought the issues of mixed race to the public in far more visible, far more dramatic ways than ever before. Global Mixed Race examines the contemporary experiences of people of mixed descent in nations around the world, moving beyond US borders to explore the dynamics of racial mixing and multiple descent in Zambia, Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, Okinawa, Australia, and New Zealand.  In particular, the volume’s editors ask: how have new global flows of ideas, goods, and people affected the lives and social placements of people of mixed descent?  Thirteen original chapters address the ways mixed-race individuals defy, bolster, speak, and live racial categorization, paying attention to the ways that these experiences help us think through how we see and engage with social differences. The contributors also highlight how mixed-race people can sometimes be used as emblems of multiculturalism, and how these identities are commodified within global capitalism while still considered by some as not pure or inauthentic. A strikingly original study, Global Mixed Race carefully and comprehensively considers the many different meanings of racial mixedness.

Contents

  • Global Mixed Race: An Introduction / Stephen Small and Rebecca C. King-O’Riain
  • Part I: Societies with Established Populations of Mixed Descent
    • 1. Multiraciality and Census Classification in Global Perspective / Ann Morning
    • 2. “Rider of Two Horses”: Eurafricans in Zambia / Juliette Bridgette Milner-Thornton
    • 3. “Split Me in Two”: Gender, Identity, and “Race Mixing” in the Trinidad and Tobago Nation / Rhoda Reddock
    • 4. In the Laboratory of Peoples’ Friendship: Mixed People in Kazakhstan from the Soviet Era to the Present / Saule K. Ualiyeva and Adrienne L. Edgar
    • 5. Competing Narratives: Race and Multiraciality in the Brazilian Racial Order / G. Reginald Daniel and Andrew Michael Lee
    • 6. Antipodean Mixed Race: Australia and New Zealand / Farida Fozdar and Maureen Perkins
    • 7. Negotiating Identity Narratives among Mexico’s Cosmic Race / Christina A. Sue
  • Part II: Places with Newer Populations of Mixed Descent
    • 8. Multiraciality and Migration: Mixed-Race American Okinawans, 1945–1972 / Lily Anne Yumi Welty
    • 9. The Curious Career of the One-Drop Rule: Multiraciality and Membership in Germany Today / Miriam Nandi and Paul Spickard
    • 10. Capturing “Mixed Race” in the Decennial UK Censuses: Are Current Approaches Sustainable in the Age of Globalization and Superdiversity? / Peter J. Aspinall and Miri Song
    • 11. Exporting the Mixed-Race Nation: Mixed-Race Identities in the Canadian Context / Minelle Mahtani, Dani Kwan-Lafond, and Leanne Taylor
  • Global Mixed Race: A Conclusion / Rebecca C. King-O’Riain
  • Bibliography
  • About the Contributors
  • Index
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Puerto Rico: The Four-Storeyed Country

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Monographs on 2014-08-18 01:14Z by Steven

Puerto Rico: The Four-Storeyed Country

Markus Wiener Publishers
2013-08-26
154 pages
Paperback ISBN: 1558760725; ISBN-13: 9781558760721

José Luis González (1926-1996)

In this work, González dismantles the myth of a dominant Spanish and racially white national culture in Puerto Rican history. He claims that the national identity is primarily Mestizo (mixed race) with a significant contribution from Africa. González calls the African slaves and Mestizo peasantry the first Puerto Ricans because they were the first inhabitants who had to make the island their home. Having witnessed successful uprisings in neighboring Haiti, the Spanish authorities encouraged white immigrants to settle in Puerto Rico in an attempt to “whiten” the population, then thought to be tilting dangerously to the advantage of the Afro-Antilleans. These immigrants became the small but influential class of landowners and, later, urban professionals.

According to the author’s grand metaphor, Afro-Antilleans and Mestizos constitute the first “storey,” or tier, of the “Puerto Rican house” of the title, landowners the second, urban professionals the third, and the managerial class the fourth.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Puerto Rico: The Four-Storeyed Country
  • Literature and National Identity in Puerto Rico
  • “Plebeyism” and Art in Today’s Puerto Rico
  • The “Lamento Borincano”: A Sociological Interpretation
  • On Puerto Rican Literature of the 1950s
  • Bernardo Vega: A Fighter and His People
  • The Writer in Exile
  • Bibliographical Note
  • Glossary of Names
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Now We Will Be Happy

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Novels, United States on 2014-08-05 18:04Z by Steven

Now We Will Be Happy

University of Nebraska Press
September 2014
140 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8032-5539-5

Amina Gautier
Department of English
University of Miami

Winner of the 2013 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction

Now We Will Be Happy is a prize-winning collection of stories about Afro-Puerto Ricans, U.S.-mainland-born Puerto Ricans, and displaced native Puerto Ricans who are living between spaces while attempting to navigate the unique culture that defines Puerto Rican identity. Amina Gautier’s characters deal with the difficulties of bicultural identities in a world that wants them to choose only one.

The characters in Now We Will Be Happy are as unpredictable as they are human. A teenage boy leaves home in search of the mother he hasn’t seen since childhood; a granddaughter is sent across the ocean to broker peace between her relatives; a widow seeks to die by hurricane; a married woman takes a bathtub voyage with her lover; a proprietress who is the glue that binds her neighborhood cannot hold on to her own son; a displaced wife develops a strange addiction to candles.

Crossing boundaries of comfort, culture, language, race, and tradition in unexpected ways, these characters struggle valiantly and doggedly to reconcile their fantasies of happiness with the realities of their existence.

Read an excerpt here.

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American Race and Charismatic License: Finding Martín de Porres in Obama

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Barack Obama, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Religion on 2014-08-05 14:52Z by Steven

American Race and Charismatic License: Finding Martín de Porres in Obama

Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Volume 97, Number 3, 2014
pages 376-384
DOI: 10.1353/sij.2014.0018

Chris Garces, Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

Problematizing the saintly reputation of seventeenth-century Dominican servant Martín de Porres, this article explores a little-known, late medieval Spanish form of agency, or licencia, with which a mulato colonial monastic could influence his Spanish Creole superiors, perform miracles, and gain a widespread reputation for superhuman piety. I ask: under what specific conditions could licencia have been wielded by nonwhite Christian subjects to manipulate the shifting moral orders of early modern Spanish Creole hegemony? I also explore how the politicization of racialized charisma continues to depend on a logic of licencia. Tracking resonances between the Spanish Creole veneration of a mulato figure in seventeenth-century Peru with the recent election of a “mixed race” president in the United States, this article reads together theology and politics to demonstrate the fraught beauty, or legal “beatification,” of racialized charisma.

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Blacks and Blackness in Central America: Between race and place ed. by Lowell Gudmundson and Justin Wolfe, and: Labor and Love in Guatemala: The eve of independence by Catherine Komisaruk (review)

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive on 2014-08-01 19:58Z by Steven

Blacks and Blackness in Central America: Between race and place ed. by Lowell Gudmundson and Justin Wolfe, and: Labor and Love in Guatemala: The eve of independence by Catherine Komisaruk (review)

Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History
Volume 15, Number 2, Summer 2014
DOI: 10.1353/cch.2014.0025

Julia A. Gibbings, Assistant Professor of History
University Of Manitoba, Canada

In his classic Spanish Central America, Murdo MacLeod reflected upon the importance of African slaves in the region and queried, “what happened to these black populations?” These two books, Blacks and Blackness in Central America and Labor and Love in Guatemala, seek to answer that question. In doing so, they uncover the silencing of Blackness as free people of color and their descendants disappeared from the sociocultural landscape or were cast into the geographic and cultural margins of the nation. In pointing to the multiple and complex forces that suppress Blackness, the authors call into question the predominant Indigenous/Ladino (non-Indigenous) binary in Central America. Recentering Blackness in the heart of Central American nations, these authors challenge even some of the most innovative scholarly works on the postcolonial period that have elided the existence of Afro-Central Americans and assumed that to be Ladino was equivalent to being Mestizo.

Blacks and Blackness in Central America, edited by Lowell Gudmundson and Justin Wolfe, originated from an international conference on the history of African Americans in Middle America that took place at Tulane University in November 2004. The result is an impressive collection of essays that contributes equally to African diaspora studies and Latin American historiography. This work adds to a new scholarship, such as Ileana Rodríguez-Silva’s Silencing Race: Disentangling Blackness, colonialism, and national identities in Puerto Rico, that seeks to uncover the powerful historical processes at work in societies where African-descended populations do not self-identify as such or have been systematically written out of national histories. The volume also contributes to Latin American historiography more broadly by participating in the rethinking of national mythologies of mestizaje. In addition to a relational approach to racial identity formation, many of the authors emphasize the racialization of space and place, illustrating how, for example, the Nicaraguan Mosquito Coast was racialized as Black and how Afro–Central America deployed the language of place and “rootedness” to make claims upon the nation-state.

Blacks and Blackness is divided into two parts, addressing the colonial and postcolonial periods, respectively. In Part I, “Colonial Worlds of Slavery and Freedom,” chapters on colonial Guatemala by Paul Lokken and colonial Costa Rica by Russell Lohse illustrate how Afro–Central Americans were participants in some of the most dynamic economic sectors—sugar and liquor in Guatemala and cacao and cattle in Costa Rica. Catherine Komisaruk’s work on colonial Guatemala and Rina Cáceres Gómez’s work on the Omoa fort in Honduras illustrate how slaves had a great deal of economic autonomy. Karl Offen’s particularly rich chapter demonstrates how the autonomous Afro-Amerindian and Amerindian populations of Nicaragua’s Mosquito Coast challenged emerging ideologies of race by interacting with the British and Spanish as equals and highlights crucial internal differentiations and hierarchies within Mosquito society. By highlighting the African origins of many Ladinos, Lokken and Komisaruk challenge the idea that modern Ladinos are exclusively of mixed Spanish and Indigenous descent.

In Part II, “Nation Building and Reinscribing Race,” the contributors take up the postcolonial nineteenth century with chapters on British West Indians, Central American banana enclaves, the racialization of Nicaraguan regions and Afro-Nicaraguan participation in liberal politics. In three chapters on Nicaragua, Justin Wolfe, Lowell Gudmundson and Juliet Hooker examine the varied meanings of Blackness and the political engagements of Afro-Nicaraguans. Wolfe illustrates how Afro-Nicaraguans engaged a republican vision that challenged the conservative oligarchy and came to dominate political struggle in the decades after independence. Their demands for equality led them to deny the question of race and thus ultimately participate in the silencing of Blackness. Gudmundson augments Wolfe’s discussion through a fascinating analysis of Nicaragua’s 1883 census and by illustrating how charges of blackness became associated with challenges to honor and masculinity, which led some to abandon the category altogether and helped institutionalize the nonexistence of racial difference and the myth of homogeneity. Hooker illustrates how the conceptualization of the Nicaraguan nation as civilized emerged out of and against the representation of the Mosquito Coast as savage. This spatialization of race, she further argues, legitimated the disenfranchisement of certain racialized peoples. Next, Lara Putnam and Ronald…

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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.

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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…

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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…

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