Race and Justice in Transnational Perspective: “From the Conservation of Races to the Cosmic Race”

Race and Justice in Transnational Perspective: “From the Conservation of Races to the Cosmic Race”

Seminar Series: Race and Justice in Transnational Perspective
University of California, Merced
California Room
5200 North Lake Rd.
Merced, California 95343
2013-10-23, 10:30 PDT (Local Time)

Juliet Hooker, Associate Professor of Government
University of Texas, Austin

The Mexican philosopher José Vasconcelos [1882-1959] and the African American political thinker W.E.B. DuBois [1868-1963] are viewed as having developed conceptions of race and racial identity that are quintessentially Latin American and U.S. American respectively.  Vasconcelos is one of Latin America’s foremost advocates of mestizaje; his notion of the Cosmic Race is generally viewed as articulating a more complex approach to race that sought to dismantle specific racial group identities and reformulate hybrid subjectivities. This approach is often contrasted to the binary, static conceptions of race developed in the U.S., including by African-American thinkers. This paper analyzes this characterization of Latin American and African American political thought by comparing Vasconcelos and DuBois’ arguments about race, especially racial identity. In particular, I will analyze DuBois’ discussion of racial mixing in the U.S. and the motivations behind Vasconcelos’ account of mestizaje in order to complicate the comparison between supposedly static, biologically grounded accounts of race and flexible notions of race that are able to acknowledge processes of racial mixing.  The aim of this juxtaposition is to stage a hemispheric dialogue about race between these two towering American pensadores, in order to show the surprising points of convergence and divergence between U.S. and Latin American ideas about race.

The seminar series “Race and Justice in Transnational Perspective” is organized by Tanya Golash-Boza, Nigel Hatton, and David Torres-Rouff. The event is co-sponsored by the UC Center for New Racial Studies, Sociology, and SSHA.

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