Whitening, Mixing, Darkening, and Developing: Everything but Indigenous

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive on 2016-11-10 00:39Z by Steven

Whitening, Mixing, Darkening, and Developing: Everything but Indigenous

Latin American Research Review
Volume 51, Number 3, 2016
pages 142-160
DOI: 10.1353/lar.2016.0038

Juliana Luna Freire, Assistant Professor of Spanish/Portuguese
Framingham State University, Framingham, Massachusetts

This article analyzes the image of Brazilian Indigenous minority groups as a figurehead in media discourse, which is based on racializing logics that celebrate historical performances of Indigeneity but minimize attention to the political activity and grassroots movements of the existing population. Using cultural studies as a starting point, this study draws on Diana Taylor’s understanding of identity and on postcolonial thinker Homi Bhabha’s theorizing on nation to conduct a reading of discourses and performances of Indigeneity as part of cultural memory. I propose an analysis of the limited scenarios allowed in this construction of a nation in Brazilian media outlets, which often claim there is political motivation for identity and are incapable of dealing with contemporary Indigenous groups. Overall, this analysis highlights the need to rethink the way we discuss ethnic identity so as to foster a larger dialogue about identity, heritage, and minority cultures in such a way that we avoid falling into a paradigm of modernization and acculturation when discussing ethnicity, and to promote better understanding of the different ongoing political and cultural movements in contemporary Brazil.

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Mestizaje and Public Opinion in Latin America

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Mexico, Social Science on 2015-03-01 02:50Z by Steven

Mestizaje and Public Opinion in Latin America

Latin American Research Review
Volume 48, Number 3 (2013)
pages 130-152
DOI: 10.1353/lar.2013.0045

Edward Telles, Professor of Sociology
Princeton University

Denia Garcia
Department of Sociology
Princeton University

Latin American elites authored and disseminated ideologies of mestizaje or race mixture, but does the general population value them today? Using the 2010 Americas Barometer, we examined public opinion about mestizaje in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru using survey questions that modeled mestizaje both as a principle of national development and as tolerance for intermarriage with black or indigenous people. We found that most Latin Americans support mestizaje, although support varies by country and ethnicity. Across countries, we find partial evidence that the strength of earlier nation-making mestizaje ideas is related to support for mestizaje today, and that strong multicultural policies may have actually strengthened such support. Ethnoracial minorities showed particular support for the national principle of mestizaje. Finally, we discovered that the national principle of mestizaje is associated with more tolerant attitudes about intermarriage, especially in countries with large Afro-descendant populations.

Ideas of mestizaje, or race mixture, are central to the formation of many Latin American nations and are assumed to predominate in much of the region today (Hale 2006; Holt 2003; Telles 2004; Wade 1993). Concepts of mestizaje stress racial fusion and the inclusion of diverse racial elements as essential to the nation; hence mestizos, or mixed-race people, are considered the prototypical citizens. Although racial hierarchies characterize Latin American socioeconomic structures (Telles, Flores, and Urrea-Giraldo 2010), ideas of mestizaje have stood in contrast to ideas of white racial purity and anti-miscegenation historically held in the United States (Bost 2003; Holt 2003; Sollors 2000). While ideas of mestizaje emerged as Latin American state projects in the early twentieth century, they are often hailed as widely shared ideologies that are central to Latin Americans’ understanding of race and race relations (Knight 1990; Mallon 1996; Whitten 2003).

Despite Latin America’s diverse racial composition and the fact that an estimated 133 million Afro-descendant and 34 million indigenous people reside there, according to recent data—numbers far higher than in the United States (Telles, forthcoming)—racial attitudes in Latin America have, surprisingly, been understudied. Despite clues from ethnographic research, we lack nationally representative evidence on the general population’s feelings about mestizaje. In this article, we examine support for mestizaje and its variations across nation and ethnicity in eight Latin American countries with large nonwhite populations: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, and Peru. These countries represent more than 70 percent of Latin America’s population and are home to the vast majority of both Afro-descendants and indigenous people in the region. We focused on two dimensions of the mestizaje ideology: as a national development principle and an individual intermarriage principle. The first, which is closely related to the national narratives developed by elites during nation making, maintains that race mixture is good for the nation. The second addresses tolerance for intermarriage in one’s family—often considered the ultimate marker of racial and ethnic integration (Alba and Nee 2003; Gordon 1964).

Our examination of eight Latin American countries provides new contexts for thinking about racial attitudes, beyond the large literature that is dominated by the case of the United States. Since racial meanings are context dependent, the study of Latin America may complicate social science understandings of racial attitudes more generally. As Krysan (2000, 161) wrote, “This complexity forces those who have developed their theories in an American context to take care not to rely too heavily on uniquely American values, principles, politics, and racial histories.” Latin America differs from the United States in that nothing like mestizaje ideology exists in the United States. Moreover, understanding racial attitudes is important because they may guide behaviors, even though attitudes are often more liberal than actual behaviors (Schuman et al. 1997). In particular, the degree to which the public embraces mestizaje may be important for understanding whether the ideology has implications for racial and national identity and democratic politics in Latin America, including whether the population would support or resist measures to combat racial discrimination and inequality…

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…

Read the entire article here.

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Whiter Shades of Pale: “Coloring In” Machado de Assis and Race in Contemporary Brazil

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2014-01-02 03:53Z by Steven

Whiter Shades of Pale: “Coloring In” Machado de Assis and Race in Contemporary Brazil

Latin American Research Review
Volume 48, Number 3 (2013)
pages 3-24
DOI: 10.1353/lar.2013.0046

Alex Flynn, Lecturer in Anthropology
Durham University, Durham, United Kingdom

Elena Calvo-González, Professor of Anthropology
Universidade Federal da Bahia, Brazil

Marcelo Mendes de Souza
Department of Comparative Literature
University of Auckland

Debates surrounding race in Brazil have become increasingly fraught in recent years as the once hegemonic concept of racial democracy (democracia racial) continues to be subject to an ever more agnostic scrutiny. Parallel to these debates, and yet ultimately inseparable from them, is the question of what it is to be “white.” In this interdisciplinary paper, we argue that whiteness has become increasingly established in Brazilian public discourse as a naturalized category. Seeking a fresh perspective on what we perceive to have become a sterile debate, we examine Machado de Assis and his work to illustrate how assumptions surrounding his short story “Pai contra mãe,” and indeed comments on the author’s very body, reveal the extent to which whiteness has come to be seen as nonnegotiable and fixed. Placing a close reading of Machado’s text at the heart of the article, we explain its implications for the scholarly debates now unfolding in Brazil concerning the construction of whiteness. The article then develops an anthropological reading of whiteness by pointing to the inherent differences between perspectives of race as a process and perspectives of race as a fixed and naturalized given.

Debates surrounding race in Brazil have become increasingly fraught in recent years as the once hegemonic concept of racial democracy (democracia racial) is subjected to an ever more agnostic scrutiny. In a public sphere where certain ‘“types of mixture’ are clearly preferred to the detriment of others” (Pinho 2009), what can be understood as whiteness has an obvious and tangible importance, with various signifiers having varying levels of meaning. The texture of hair, the shape of facial features, even certain embodied notions of interaction can connote discrete positions on a racialized hierarchy. As Pinho (2009, 40) states, following the tradition of 1950s anthropologists such as Oracy Nogueira (1998) or Donald Pierson (1971), skin color is perhaps only the beginning of someone’s subjective judgment: “One’s ‘measure of whiteness,’ therefore, is not defined only by skin color; it requires a much wider economy of signs where, together with other bodily features, hair texture is almost as important as epidermal tone. In any given context, the definition of whiteness is also, necessarily, shaped by the contours of gender and class affiliation.”

These judgments take place within a wider historical discourse that has promoted the “whitening” of Brazil as a country and race. Dávila (2003) describes how from the turn of the nineteenth century, state actors in Brazil implemented policies that had at their heart a belief in whiteness as a naturalized state identified with strength, health, and virtue. This racial category was gradually shaped in opposition to “blackness,” a status that carried an explicit cargo of laziness, primitive and childlike nature, and an inherently antimodern gaze to the past. Dávila outlines how state actors believed that the nation could be “whitened” by educating people out of a black identity and leading them toward a white set of behaviors and morals. In this way, race was not a biological fact, it was rather a metaphor for the imagining of Brazil’s modernist trajectory; race was a malleable tool with which to better the future. Thus, the racial mixing of Brazilian society was a deterministic process toward securing a brighter, “whiter” future, one where blackness and its degeneracy could be cast aside and social ascension would guarantee a more productive population. Dávila (2003, 6) states that in the 1930s, “white Brazilians could safely celebrate race mixture because they saw it as an inevitable step in the nation’s evolution.” But it is important to note here that the supposedly realizable goal at the end of this process was essentially being cast as a naturalized category. There were no searching questions as to exactly what whiteness represented on this hierarchical trajectory; the definition was based upon a certain Europeanness and was whatever blackness or  indigenousness was not. As Dávila (2003, 7) states, “whiteness” was defined through both “positive and negative affirmation,” becoming a sedimented and fixed category without any internalized processes of self-reflection.

Despite this historical lack of analysis, recent state interventions have prompted a more quotidian interest into questions of whiteness in Brazil. Carlos Hasenbalg and Nelson do Vale Silva’s groundbreaking research in the 1970s had already demonstrated the disparities linked to race in socioeconomic indicators between self=-classified “whites” and “browns/blacks,” with the latter grouped together due to the similarity of results when compared to the “white” group. Such work helped to destabilize the myth of racial democracy, as well as the “mulatto escape hatch” thesis, the idea that the space ceded to people of mixed race in Brazil allowed some to escape the “disabilities of blackness” (Degler 1971, 178). However, the recent introduction of racial quotas at federal and state universities has brought into sharp relief how binary manners of self-identification can have a profound influence on one’s social trajectory, or as Vron Ware (2004, 38) describes it, “the relationship between social and symbolic power.” With an expanding middle class and growing competition for places, university places reserved for those who do not identify as white has brought into the open questions and prejudices that many people might have perhaps preferred to remain opaque. The debates around the implementation of affirmative action policies have brought into sharp focus the serious issues that a bureaucratic reconfiguration of racial categories implies, given that the category “black” subsumed those that self-declared as mixed race. At the center of these debates is the question of what it is to be black and, discussed much less, what it is to be white, a subject that has acquired all the more significance with the recent publication of census data demonstrating that for the first time since records began, those that self-identify as white are in a minority (47.7 percent) in Brazil (Phillips 2011). In this article we will build upon recent literature on whiteness as well as more classical work on race and race relations to reinforce the idea that, rather than being a fixed category, whiteness is in fact a volatile and nuanced construction continually subject to social reinterpretations as well as state-determined reconfiguration…

Read the entire article here.

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Gilberto Freyre: The Reassessment Continues

Posted in Articles, Biography, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science on 2013-06-26 20:56Z by Steven

Gilberto Freyre: The Reassessment Continues

Latin American Research Review
Volume 43, Number 1, 2008
pages 208-218
DOI: 10.1353/lar.2008.0002

David Lehmann, Reader in Social Science
University of Cambridge

Gilberto Freyre e os estudos latino-americanos. Edited by Joshua Lund and Malcolm McNee. Pittsburgh: Instituto Internacional de Literatura Iberoamericana, Universidad de Pittsburgh, 2006. Pp. 399.

Casa-grande e senzala. By Gilberto Freyre. Critical edition by Guillermo Giucci, Enrique Rodríguez Larreta, and Edson Nery da Fonseca. Madrid: Acordo Archivos ALLCA XX, 2002. Pp. 1297.

Gilberto Freyre: um vitoriano dos tropicos. By Maria Lúcia Garcia Pallares-Burke. São Paulo: Editora UNESP, 2005. Pp. 484.

Casa-grande e senzala was published when Freyre, born in 1900, was only thirty-three years old. This precocious book dealt with a vast range of themes and a variety of sources, and its largely non-Brazilian intellectual precursors were beyond the physical and even intellectual range of Freyre’s contemporaries, few of whom had traveled to the United States or even to Europe, as Freyre had done in the early and late 1920s. The mere length of the book, as Thomas Skidmore has noted, put off established publishers. Casa-grande probably drew on all the then-published historical writing on Brazil in Portuguese, English, and French, as well as on comparative medical and anatomical studies, travel literature, ethnographies of different parts of Africa, and published colonial reports, plus a sprinkling of quasi-ethnographic personal reminiscence. Already at that age, Freyre, though himself from an urban professional, rather than landholding, family, deployed his trademark patrician assuredness. He invented his own genre—a propensity for ex cathedra pronouncements and self-glorification, combined with an intellectual curiosity at once undisciplined and creative.

At first, as the essays in the volume edited by Lund and McNee often remind us, Freyre’s book had the effect of an earthquake, though admittedly in a very small intellectual elite. In 2001, Antonio Candido recalled a friend from the left-wing branch of a prominent political family going to the mirror on reading it and musing, “Acho que sou mulato!” (Lund and McNee, 10). Lilia Schwarz elaborates by reminding us in the same collection that the Estado Novo itself fell under the influence of Freyre, implementing official projects in which mestiçagem (racial mixture) was recognized as “a verdadeira nacionalidade,” Brazil’s true nationality (314), although on this one might also find contrary evidence, notably the notorious case of the sculpture “O homem brasileiro,” by Celso Antonio.

Whatever individuals’ disposition toward the black population and the poor, the climate of public debate in Brazil at the time started from the assumption that the black skin and African descent of a large portion of the population was in some sense a problem; Freyre on the contrary told them it was a solution. Freyre had little knowledge of or interest in the recent European immigrants who were fl ooding into the South; for him the Portuguese were not white at all, their mestiço heritage shaped by centuries of Arab presence among them. Clearly Casa-grande is written by a confident member of the Northeastern elite, but is it written by a “white man”? In a telling passage quoted by Neil Larsen (Lund and McNee, 382), Freyre evokes almost voluptuously the black influence in “everything that is a sincere expression of life . . . the tenderness, the exaggerated mimicry, the Catholicism that indulges our senses, music, language, gait and the lullabies . . . the escrava who nursed us and fed us and told us our first children’s horror stories, the mulata who so deliciously extracted the first splinter from our feet and, finally and inevitably, the woman who initiated us into the delights of physical love and gave us our first sense of male completeness, to the creaking sounds of the chaise lounge” (Freyre, 301, my translation). Who is—or are—this “us”? The writer is reflected impersonally in the text like the artist in Velázquez’s Las Meninas.

Freyre is often credited—or blamed—for coining and spreading the myth of “racial democracy.” It is repeated with particular insistence, near unanimity, and no small dose of righteous indignation among those whom Brazilian writers describe as Brazilianists—not, note, Brazilianistas—as well as by several Brazilian authorities. In a 1996 article, George Reid Andrews (the quality of whose work on race in Brazil is otherwise not in doubt) seems to refer the reader to the 1946 English translation of Casa-grande in support of the claim that Freyre coined the term, but I could find no such thing on the page quoted! More recently, to take but one of innumerable examples, Robin Sheriff states that Casa-grande “reconstituted the country as a democracia racial.”  Thankfully, in a 2002 paper published on the Internet, Levy Cruz provides the results of what must be the most exhaustive effort so far to uncover whether and when Freyre used the expression. The results are a testimony to Cruz’s archaeological talents on the one hand, and unfortunately, on the other, to the capacity of academics sometimes to believe and propagate a malign fiction, like a slow-motion lynch mob. Cruz first reminds us not only that the belief has been attributed to Freyre that Brazil is a racial democracy, but also that he has been blamed for perpetuating racial discrimination in Brazil on account of the false consciousness engendered by the myth! But then he goes on to show decisively that there is not a single instance where Freyre stated that Brazil is a racial democracy. He did state several times, though mostly in lectures and statements for English-speaking audiences, that Brazil might be on a path toward an “ethnic or racial democracy,” and in the English translation of Sobrados e mucambos, he inserted in an additional final sentence the statement that “Brazil is becoming more and more a racial democracy, characterized by an almost unique combination of diversity and unity.”  The nearest he gets in Portuguese is in an interview from 1980 published very obscurely in Recife, when he says that Brazil is far from a pure democracy in any sense (“racial, social or political”) but “is the nearest thing in the world to a racial democracy.” It is worth noting that here he uses the expression democracia relativa, which had figured in the vocabulary of the military government during its prolonged and tortuous “decompression” of the mid- to late 1970s. Freyre might have helped his own reputation on the left—if that had mattered to him—and among social scientists generally had he taken more care with his use of terms; but let us not forget how much he became a political animal, more concerned to navigate different currents of opinion than to achieve analytical coherence. Indeed, one source of the “racial democracy” imbroglio is his practice of projecting different personae at home and abroad: a study of Freyre’s management of his translations and of his persona outside Brazil (para inglês ver . . .) would be of great interest. Overall, however, one can well sympathize with Hermano Vianna’s outburst about “the myth of the myth of racial democracy” (quoted in Lund and McNee, 40)…

Read the entire article here.

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Myths of Racial Democracy: Cuba, 1900-1912

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Social Science on 2012-08-19 22:49Z by Steven

Myths of Racial Democracy: Cuba, 1900-1912

Latin American Research Review
Volume 34, Number 3 (1999)
pages 39-73

Alejandro de la Fuente, UCIS Research Professor of History
University of Pittsburgh

This article reviews the recent literature on the so-called myths of racial democracy in Latin America and challenges current critical interpretations of the social effects of these ideologies. Typically, critics stress the elitist nature of these ideologies, their demobilizing effects among racially subordinate groups, and the role they play in legitimizing the subordination of such groups. Using the establishment of the Cuban republic as a test case, this article contends that the critical approach tends to minimize or ignore altogether the opportunities that these ideologies have created for those below, the capacity of subordinate groups to use the nation-state’s cultural project to their own advantage, and the fact that these social myths also restrain the political options of their own creators.

In a very real sense, nothing can be more real than the unreal.
Ashley Montagu, Race, Science, and Humanity

Brazilian sociologist Florestan Fernandes called it “prejudice against prejudice”; U.S. sociologist Thomas Lynn Smith described it as “a veritable cult.” Both were referring to what has come to be known as the Brazilian myth of racial democracy.

In its simplest formulation, the “myth” is that all Brazilians, regardless of “race,” enjoy equal opportunities and live in a racially harmonious society. It could not be otherwise, according to the myth, because Brazil’s strength and greatness reside in the widespread racial mixture of its population. It therefore makes no sense to talk about blacks and whites in a country in which most citizens are some of both. “Race” in Brazilian society is constructed along a continuum moving from “black” to “white” based on phenotypical features (skin color, type of hair, facial features) and on social factors like education and financial status. Several centuries of intimate contact and miscegenation, biological and cultural, have created a new hybrid race that is authentically Brazilian.

The notoriety of the Brazilian case has been guaranteed by the brilliance of its myth makers, foremost among them Gilberto Freyre. But it has also been sustained by two fundamental facts: no other country in the hemisphere has a numerically larger population of African descent; and no other country enslaved its black population as late as Brazil did, until 1888. A hegemonic ideology advocating some form of racial fraternity is remarkable in a country like Brazil but hardly unique. Since the late nineteenth century, particularly during the 1920s and 1930s, intellectual elites in numerous Latin American countries have articulated racial ideologies that were similar in purpose and content to the Brazilian myth. Mestizaje was exalted as the true American essence, a synthesis that incorporated (allegedly on equal terms) the best cultural and physical traits that the various ethnic and racial groups populating the Americas had to offer.

Forced to cope with the troubling aspects of a North Atlantic ideology that flatly advocated the inferiority of non-Anglo-Saxon peoples and the deleterious effects of racial mixing, the elites in Latin America had to reach a compromise that would allow them to reconcile the goal of modernity with the undeniably mixed nature of their populations. During this search, the mestizo was invented as a national symbol. The result was an ideological formulation that broke with the past while upholding it. The discourse on mestizaje remained prisoner of the same canon that scientific racism proclaimed as incontrovertible truths—the essentialness of race—but the discourse revolutionized social thinking by minimizing the other central tenet of the hegemonic racial gospel: biological determinism. Although race was still associated with ascribed characteristics as immutable and overpowering as those championed by genetically based racism, the emphasis was shifted to geographical, cultural, and historical factors. This is no small distinction. By placing social factors at the core of their ideological constructions, Latin American intellectuals were openly contesting the notion that their countries were doomed to failure and perpetual backwardness, while asserting (however implicitly) that social transformation was the way to reach modernity. They thus had fabricated a way out of the ideological iron cast that the North Atlantic world had manufactured by means of its high science, universities, and royal societies.

But the escape was only partial. While contesting or just ignoring the idea that racial miscegenation meant degeneration, Latin American thinkers accepted the premise that ample sectors of their populations were basically inferior and that their human stock needed to be “improved” Such inferiority was to be explained in terms of culture, geography, or climate rather than pure genetics, but the dominant vision still presented the lighter end of the spectrum as the ideal and denigrated the darker end as primitive and uncivilized. In this formulation, whiteness still represented progress. Miscegenation was perceived as the way to “regenerate” a population unfit to perform the duties associated with a modern polity, with white immigration serving as a precondition for progress. The idea that regeneration was possible at all subverted biological determinism, but the expressed need for regeneration presupposed acceptance of the idea that “race” explained the “backwardness” of Latin American societies. Whitening became the way to remove a surmountable, albeit formidable, obstacle on the road to modernity.

Read the entire article here.

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