Land of the Cosmic Race is a richly-detailed ethnographic account of the powerful role that race and color play in organizing the lives and thoughts of ordinary Mexicans. It presents a previously untold story of how individuals in contemporary urban Mexico construct their identities, attitudes, and practices in the context of a dominant national belief system. The book centers around Mexicans' engagement with three racialized pillars of Mexican national ideology - the promotion of race mixture, the assertion of an absence of racism in the country, and the marginalization of blackness in Mexico. The subjects of this book are mestizos - the mixed-race people of Mexico who are of Indigenous, African, and European ancestry and the intended consumers of this national ideology. Land of the Cosmic Race illustrates how Mexican mestizos navigate the sea of contradictions that arise when their everyday lived experiences conflict with the national stance and how they manage these paradoxes in a way that upholds, protects, and reproduces the national ideology. Drawing on a year of participant observation, over 110 interviews, and focus-groups from Veracruz, Mexico, Christina A. Sue offers rich insight into the relationship between race-based national ideology and the attitudes and behaviors of mixed-race Mexicans. Most importantly, she theorizes as to why elite-based ideology not only survives but actually thrives within the popular understandings and discourse of those over whom it is designed to govern.
Land of the Cosmic Race is a richly-detailed ethnographic account of the powerful role that race and color play in organizing the lives and thoughts of ordinary Mexicans. It presents a previously untold story of how individuals in contemporary urban Mexico construct their identities, attitudes, and practices in the context of a dominant national belief system that promotes race mixture, asserts the absence of racism in the country, but marginalizes blackness.
Peter Wade,Carlos López López Beltrán,Eduardo Restrepo,Ricardo Ventura Santos
Race Mixture, Nation, and Science in Latin America
Author: Peter Wade,Carlos López López Beltrán,Eduardo Restrepo,Ricardo Ventura Santos
Publisher: Duke University Press
Category: Social Science
In genetics laboratories in Latin America, scientists have been mapping the genomes of local populations, seeking to locate the genetic basis of complex diseases and to trace population histories. As part of their work, geneticists often calculate the European, African, and Amerindian genetic ancestry of populations. Some researchers explicitly connect their findings to questions of national identity and racial and ethnic difference, bringing their research to bear on issues of politics and identity. Drawing on ethnographic research in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico, the contributors to Mestizo Genomics explore how the concepts of race, ethnicity, nation, and gender enter into and are affected by genomic research. In Latin America, national identities are often based on ideas about mestizaje (race mixture), rather than racial division. Since mestizaje is said to involve relations between European men and indigenous or African women, gender is a key factor in Latin American genomics and in the analyses in this book. Also important are links between contemporary genomics and recent moves toward official multiculturalism in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico. One of the first studies of its kind, Mestizo Genomics sheds new light on the interrelations between "race," identity, and genomics in Latin America. Contributors. Adriana Díaz del Castillo H., Roosbelinda Cárdenas, Vivette García Deister, Verlan Valle Gaspar Neto, Michael Kent, Carlos López Beltrán, María Fernanda Olarte Sierra, Eduardo Restrepo, Mariana Rios Sandoval, Ernesto Schwartz-Marín, Ricardo Ventura Santos, Peter Wade
For over a hundred years, Venezuelans have referred to themselves as a café con leche (coffee with milk) people. This colorful expression well describes the racial composition of Venezuelan society, in which European, African, and Indian peoples have intermingled to produce a population in which almost everyone is of mixed blood. It also expresses a popular belief that within their blended society Venezuelans have achieved a racial democracy in which people of all races live free from prejudice and discrimination. Whether or not historical facts actually support this popular perception is the question Winthrop Wright explores in this study. Wright's research suggests that, contrary to popular belief, blacks in Venezuela have not enjoyed the full benefits of racial democracy. He finds that their status, even after the abolition of slavery in 1854, remained low in the minds of Venezuelan elites, who idealized the European somatic type and viewed blacks as inferior. Indeed, in an effort to whiten the population, Venezuelan elites promoted European immigration and blocked the entry of blacks and Asians during the early twentieth century. These attitudes remained in place until the 1940s, when the populist Acción Democrática party (AD) challenged the elites' whitening policies. Since that time, blacks have made significant strides and have gained considerable political power. But, as Wright reveals, other evidence suggests that most remain social outcasts and have not accumulated significant wealth. The popular perception of racial harmony in Venezuela hides the fact of ongoing discrimination.
Colorblindness has become an integral part of the national conversation on race in America. Given the assumptions behind this influential metaphor—that being blind to race will lead to racial equality—it's curious that, until now, we have not considered if or how the blind "see" race. Most sighted people assume that the answer is obvious: they don't, and are therefore incapable of racial bias—an example that the sighted community should presumably follow. In Blinded by Sight,Osagie K. Obasogie shares a startling observation made during discussions with people from all walks of life who have been blind since birth: even the blind aren't colorblind—blind people understand race visually, just like everyone else. Ask a blind person what race is, and they will more than likely refer to visual cues such as skin color. Obasogie finds that, because blind people think about race visually, they orient their lives around these understandings in terms of who they are friends with, who they date, and much more. In Blinded by Sight, Obasogie argues that rather than being visually obvious, both blind and sighted people are socialized to see race in particular ways, even to a point where blind people "see" race. So what does this mean for how we live and the laws that govern our society? Obasogie delves into these questions and uncovers how color blindness in law, public policy, and culture will not lead us to any imagined racial utopia.
The Role of the State, Customary Law, and the New Civil Rights Response
Author: Tanya Katerí Hernández
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
There are approximately 150 million people of African descent in Latin America yet Afro-descendants have been consistently marginalized as undesirable elements of the society. Latin America has nevertheless long prided itself on its absence of U.S.-styled state-mandated Jim Crow racial segregation laws. This book disrupts the traditional narrative of Latin America's legally benign racial past by comprehensively examining the existence of customary laws of racial regulation and the historic complicity of Latin American states in erecting and sustaining racial hierarchies. Tanya Katerí Hernández is the first author to consider the salience of the customary law of race regulation for the contemporary development of racial equality laws across the region. Therefore, the book has a particular relevance for the contemporary U.S. racial context in which Jim Crow laws have long been abolished and a "post-racial" rhetoric undermines the commitment to racial equality laws and policies amidst a backdrop of continued inequality.
History, Race, and Place in the Making of “Black” Mexico
Author: Laura A. Lewis
Publisher: Duke University Press Books
Category: Social Science
Located on Mexico's Pacific coast in a historically black part of the Costa Chica region, the town of San Nicolás has been identified as a center of Afromexican culture by Mexican cultural authorities, journalists, activists, and foreign anthropologists. The majority of the town's residents, however, call themselves morenos (black Indians). In Chocolate and Corn Flour, Laura A. Lewis explores the history and contemporary culture of San Nicolás, focusing on the ways that local inhabitants experience and understand race, blackness, and indigeneity, as well as on the cultural values that outsiders place on the community and its residents. Drawing on more than a decade of fieldwork, Lewis offers a richly detailed and subtle ethnography of the lives and stories of the people of San Nicolás, including community residents who have migrated to the United States. San Nicoladenses, she finds, have complex attitudes toward blackness—as a way of identifying themselves and as a racial and cultural category. They neither consider themselves part of an African diaspora nor deny their heritage. Rather, they acknowledge their hybridity and choose to identify most deeply with their community.
Genomics, Multiculturalism, and Race in Latin America
Author: Peter Wade
Publisher: Duke University Press
Category: Social Science
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.
Michèle Lamont,Graziella Moraes Silva,Jessica Welburn,Joshua Guetzkow,Nissim Mizrachi,Hanna Herzog,Elisa Reis
Responding to Stigma and Discrimination in the United States, Brazil, and Israel
Author: Michèle Lamont,Graziella Moraes Silva,Jessica Welburn,Joshua Guetzkow,Nissim Mizrachi,Hanna Herzog,Elisa Reis
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Category: Social Science
Racism is a common occurrence for members of marginalized groups around the world. Getting Respect illuminates their experiences by comparing three countries with enduring group boundaries: the United States, Brazil and Israel. The authors delve into what kinds of stigmatizing or discriminatory incidents individuals encounter in each country, how they respond to these occurrences, and what they view as the best strategy—whether individually, collectively, through confrontation, or through self-improvement—for dealing with such events. This deeply collaborative and integrated study draws on more than four hundred in-depth interviews with middle- and working-class men and women residing in and around multiethnic cities—New York City, Rio de Janeiro, and Tel Aviv—to compare the discriminatory experiences of African Americans, black Brazilians, and Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel, as well as Israeli Ethiopian Jews and Mizrahi (Sephardic) Jews. Detailed analysis reveals significant differences in group behavior: Arab Palestinians frequently remain silent due to resignation and cynicism while black Brazilians see more stigmatization by class than by race, and African Americans confront situations with less hesitation than do Ethiopian Jews and Mizrahim, who tend to downplay their exclusion. The authors account for these patterns by considering the extent to which each group is actually a group, the sociohistorical context of intergroup conflict, and the national ideologies and other cultural repertoires that group members rely on. Getting Respect is a rich and daring book that opens many new perspectives into, and sets a new global agenda for, the comparative analysis of race and ethnicity.
"The days of the pure whites, the victors of today, are as numbered as were the days of their predecessors. Having fulfilled their destiny of mechanizing the world, they themselves have set, without knowing it, the basis for the new period: The period of the fusion and the mixing of all peoples." -- from The Cosmic Race In this influential 1925 essay, presented here in Spanish and English, José Vasconcelos predicted the coming of a new age, the Aesthetic Era, in which joy, love, fantasy, and creativity would prevail over the rationalism he saw as dominating the present age. In this new age, marriages would no longer be dictated by necessity or convenience, but by love and beauty; ethnic obstacles, already in the process of being broken down, especially in Latin America, would disappear altogether, giving birth to a fully mixed race, a "cosmic race," in which all the better qualities of each race would persist by the natural selection of love. "This bilingual edition of The Cosmic Race by José Vasconcelos gives the reader a clear and concise introduction to contents that have caused much critical controversy. Didier T. Jaén places this essay in perspective, discussing theories relevant to Vasconcelos's thought... [and] also provides an historical context for Vasconcelos's evolving ideas." -- Hispania
Decades after the first multicultural reforms were introduced in Latin America, Afrodescendant people from the region are still disproportionately impoverished, underserved, policed, and incarcerated. In Nicaragua, Afrodescendants have mobilized to confront this state of siege through the politics of black autonomy. For women and men grappling with postwar violence, black autonomy has its own cultural meanings as a political aspiration and a way of crafting selfhood and solidarity. Jennifer Goett's ethnography examines the race and gender politics of activism for autonomous rights in an Afrodescendant. Creole community in Nicaragua. Weaving together fifteen years of research, Black Autonomy follows this community-based movement from its inception in the late 1990s to its realization as an autonomous territory in 2009 and beyond. Goett argues that despite significant gains in multicultural recognition, Afro-Nicaraguan Creoles continue to grapple with the day-to-day violence of capitalist intensification, racialized policing, and drug war militarization in their territories. Activists have responded by adopting a politics of autonomy based on race pride, territoriality, self-determination, and self-defense. Black Autonomy shows how this political radicalism is rooted in African diasporic identification and gendered cultural practices that women and men use to assert control over their bodies, labor, and spaces in an atmosphere of violence.
This innovative and provocative volume focuses on the historical development of racial thinking and imagining in Mexico and the southwestern United States over a period of almost five centuries, from the earliest decades of Spanish colonial rule and the birth of a multiracial colonial population, to the present. The distinguished contributors to the volume bring into dialogue sophisticated new scholarship from an impressive range of disciplines, including social and cultural history, art history, legal studies, and performance art. The essays provide an engaging and original framework for understanding the development of racial thinking and classification in the region that was once New Spain and also shed new light on the history of the shifting ties between Mexico and the United States and the transnational condition of Latinos in the US today.
"Megan Daigle explores the role of women in Cuban political culture by examining the rise of economies of sex, romance, and money since the early 1990s. Investigating the lived realities of the Cuban women (and some men) who date tourists and offering a unique perspective on the surrounding debates, From Cuba with Love raises issues about women's bodies-what they can or should do and, equally, what can be done to them. Daigle draws attention to the violence experienced by these young women at the hands of a moralistic state, an opportunistic police force, and even their own families and partners. Daigle's provocative perspective will make readers question how race and politics in Cuba are tied to women and sex, and the ways in which political power acts directly on the bodies of individuals through law, policing, institutional programs, and social norms"--Provided by publisher.
While the history of Asian migration to Latin America is well documented, we know little about the contemporary experience of diasporic Asians in this part of the world. Memories of a Future Home offers an intimate look at how diasporic Chinese in Panama construct a home and create a sense of belonging as they inhabit the interstices of several cultural-national formations—Panama, their nation of residence; China/Taiwan, their ethnic homeland; and the United States, the colonial force. Juxtaposing the concepts of diaspora and citizenship, this book offers an innovative framework to help us understand how diasporic subjects engage the politics of cultural and political belonging in a transnational context. It does so by examining the interaction between continually shifting geopolitical dynamics, as well as the maneuvers undertaken by diasporic people to negotiate and transform those conditions. In essence, this book explores the contingent citizenship experienced by diasporic Chinese and their efforts to imagine and construct "home" in diaspora.
The Dominican Republic's Border Campaign against Haiti, 1930-1961
Author: Edward Paulino
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
The island of Hispaniola is split by a border that divides the Dominican Republic and Haiti. This border has been historically contested and largely porous. Dividing Hispaniola is a study of Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo’s scheme, during the mid-twentieth century, to create and reinforce a buffer zone on this border through the establishment of state institutions and an ideological campaign against what was considered an encroaching black, inferior, and bellicose Haitian state. The success of this program relied on convincing Dominicans that regardless of their actual color, whiteness was synonymous with Dominican cultural identity. Paulino examines the campaign against Haiti as the construct of a fractured urban intellectual minority, bolstered by international politics and U.S. imperialism. This minority included a diverse set of individuals and institutions that employed anti-Haitian rhetoric for their own benefit (i.e., sugar manufacturers and border officials.) Yet, in reality, these same actors had no interest in establishing an impermeable border. Paulino further demonstrates that Dominican attitudes of admiration and solidarity toward Haitians as well as extensive intermixture around the border region were commonplace. In sum his study argues against the notion that anti-Haitianism was part of a persistent and innate Dominican ethos.
Pigmentocracies--the fruit of the multiyear Project on Ethnicity and Race in Latin America (PERLA)--is a richly revealing analysis of contemporary attitudes toward ethnicity and race in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru, four of Latin America's most populous nations. Based on extensive, original sociological and anthropological data generated by PERLA, this landmark study analyzes ethnoracial classification, inequality, and discrimination, as well as public opinion about Afro-descended and indigenous social movements and policies that foster greater social inclusiveness, all set within an ethnoracial history of each country. A once-in-a-generation examination of contemporary ethnicity, this book promises to contribute in significant ways to policymaking and public opinion in Latin America. Edward Telles, PERLA's principal investigator, explains that profound historical and political forces, including multiculturalism, have helped to shape the formation of ethnic identities and the nature of social relations within and across nations. One of Pigmentocracies's many important conclusions is that unequal social and economic status is at least as much a function of skin color as of ethnoracial identification. Investigators also found high rates of discrimination by color and ethnicity widely reported by both targets and witnesses. Still, substantial support across countries was found for multicultural-affirmative policies--a notable result given that in much of modern Latin America race and ethnicity have been downplayed or ignored as key factors despite their importance for earlier nation-building.
What does it mean to be a citizen? What impact does an active democracy have on its citizenry and why does it fail or succeed in fulfilling its promises? Most modern democracies seem unable to deliver the goods that citizens expect; many politicians seem to have given up on representing the wants and needs of those who elected them and are keener on representing themselves and their financial backers. What will it take to bring democracy back to its original promise of rule by the people? Bernd Reiter’s timely analysis reaches back to ancient Greece and the Roman Republic in search of answers. It examines the European medieval city republics, revolutionary France, and contemporary Brazil, Portugal, and Colombia. Through an innovative exploration of country cases, this study demonstrates that those who stand to lose something from true democracy tend to oppose it, making the genealogy of citizenship concurrent with that of exclusion. More often than not, exclusion leads to racialization, stigmatizing the excluded to justify their non-membership. Each case allows for different insights into the process of how citizenship is upheld and challenged. Together, the cases reveal how exclusive rights are constituted by contrasting members to non-members who in that very process become racialized others. The book provides an opportunity to understand the dynamics that weaken democracy so that they can be successfully addressed and overcome in the future.