Creating the Ideal Mexican: 20th and 21st Century Racial and National Identity Discourses in Oaxaca

Posted in Anthropology, Caribbean/Latin America, Definitions, History, Media Archive, Mexico on 2016-10-22 20:38Z by Steven

Creating the Ideal Mexican: 20th and 21st Century Racial and National Identity Discourses in Oaxaca

University of Massachusetts, Amherst
September 2015
235 pages

Savannah N. Carroll

Submitted to the Graduate School of the University of Massachusetts Amherst in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

This investigation intends to uncover past and contemporary socioeconomic significance of being a racial other in Oaxaca, Mexico and its relevance in shaping Mexican national identity. The project has two purposes: first, to analyze activities and observations of cultural missionaries in Oaxaca during the 1920s and 1930s, and second to relate these findings to historical and present implications of blackness in an Afro-Mexican community. Cultural missionaries were appointed by the Secretary of Public Education (SEP) to create schools throughout Mexico, focusing on the modernization of marginalized communities through formal and social education. This initiative was intended to resolve socioeconomic disparities and incorporate sectors of the population into the national framework that had been excluded prior to the Mexican Revolution in 1910. While these efforts were predominantly implemented in indigenous communities located in the northern part of Oaxaca, observations from cultural missionaries related to social and educational conditions reveal ongoing disparities between what it means to be indigenous versus mestizo. The exclusion of moreno, or Afro-descended people from this state sponsored initiative indicates that blackness along with indigenity is otherized, with the primary difference being that Afro-descended Mexicans lack visibility.

To gain a better perspective of the historical and present significance of blackness, my project moves from the general to the specific to include José Maria Morelos, Oaxaca, an Afro-descended community that is isolated, has no tourist attractions or services, dirt roads, and little access to socioeconomic resources. Morelos was established by blacks who escaped slavery and lived independently in their own community. People in the town strongly identify with this history and its relation to their present condition. After speaking with local activists, it became apparent that rights that were supposed to be gained from the Mexican Revolution, such as land rights and public education, did not happen in Morelos, which adversely affects people’s prospects for socioeconomic advancement.

Read the entire dissertation here.

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Posted in Definitions on 2013-11-28 19:34Z by Steven

Blanqueamiento, or whitening, is a social, political, and economic practice used in many post-colonial countries to “improve the race” (mejorar la raza) towards a supposed ideal of whiteness. The term blanqueamiento is rooted in Latin America and is used more or less synonymous with racial whitening. However, blanqueamiento can be considered in both the symbolic and biological sense Symbolically, blanqueamiento represents an ideology that emerged out of legacies of European Colonialism, described by Anibal Quijano’s theory of Coloniality of power, which caters to white dominance in social hierarchies Biologically, blanqueamiento is the process of whitening by marrying a lighter skinned individual in order to produce lighter-skinned offspring.

Source: Wikipedia.


Posted in Definitions on 2013-11-15 01:52Z by Steven

Signare was the name for the Mestizo French-African women of the island of Gorée in French Senegal during the 18th and 19th centuries. These woman of color held some power in a patriarchal system throughout the Atlantic Slave Trade. These women were the wives of merchants. Signares commonly had power in networks of trade and wealth within the limitations of slavery. The influence held by these women led to changes in gender roles in the family structure archetype. Signares commonly had power in networks of trade and wealth within the limitations of slavery. Some owned masses of land as well as slaves. Many signares were wed under “common local law” that was recognized by priests of the Catholic faith. These marriages were for economic and social reasons. Both signares and their husbands gained from these partnerships. Europeans passed their names down to the offspring and with it their lineage.

Source: Wikipedia.

critical mixed race studies

Posted in Definitions on 2013-03-18 20:33Z by Steven

Critical mixed race studies (CMRS) is transracial, transdisciplinary, and transnational in scope. It places the concept of mixed race at the critical center of focus such that multiracial individuals become subjects of historical, social, and cultural processes rather than simply objects of analysis. This involves the study of racial consciousness among racially mixed people, the world in which they live, and the ideological forces that inform their identity and experience. CMRS also stresses the critical analysis of the institutionalization of social, cultural, and political structures based on dominant conceptions of race. In keeping with sociologists Michael Omi’s and Howard Winant’s racial formation theory, CMRS acknowledges that the concept of race invokes biologically-based human characteristics, but the selection of specific human features for the purposes of racial signification is a constantly changing sociohistorical process. Accordingly, CMRS emphasizes the constructed nature of race and the notion that racial categories are unstable and decentered structures of sociocultural meanings that are continuously being created, inhabited, contested, transformed, and destroyed. Finally, CMRS underscores the mutability of race and the porosity of racial boundaries in order to critique local and global systemic injustices rooted in processes of racialization and social stratification based on race, as well as the interlocking nature of racial phenomena with sex, gender, sexuality, class, and other categories of difference.

G. Reginald Daniel

Brazilian Population ‘Color’ Self-Descriptors

Posted in Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Definitions, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science on 2013-03-15 17:25Z by Steven

Brazilian Population ‘Color’ Self-Descriptors

Source: National Survey by Household Sample (PNAD).  Extracted from: Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, “Not black, not white: just the opposite. Culture, race and national identity in Brazil,” Centre for Brazilian Studies, Working Paper Number CBS-47-03, (2003): 5.

# Portuguese Translation Gender
1. Acastanhada somewhat chestnut-coloured F
2. Agalegada somewhat like a Galician F
3. Alva snowy white F
4. Alva escura dark snowy white F
5. Alvarenta* (not in dictionary; poss. dialect) snowy white F
6. Alvarinta* snowy white F
7. Alva rosada pinkish white F
8. Alvinha snowy white F dimin
9. Amarela Yellow F
10. Amarelada Yellowish F
11. Amarela-queimada Burnt yellow F
12. Amarelosa Yellowy F
13. Amorenada somewhat dark-skinned F
14. Avermelhada Reddish F
15. Azul Blue
16. Azul-marinho Sea blue
17. Baiano From Bahia M
18. Bem branca Very white F
19. Bem clara Very pale F
20. Bem morena Very dark-skinned F
21. Branca White F
22. Branca-avermelhada White going on for red F
23. Branca-melada Honey-coloured white F
24. Branca-morena White but dark-skinned F
25. Branca-pálida Pale white F
26. Branca-queimada Burnt white F
27. Branca-sardenta Freckled white F
28. Branca-suja Off-white F
29. Branquiça* Whitish F
30. Branquinha Very white F dimin
31. Bronze Bronze-coloured
32. Bronzeada Sun-tanned F
33. Bugrezinha-escura Dark-skinned India F dimin + derogatory
34. Burro-quando-foge Disappearing donkey (i.e. nondescript) humorous
35. Cabocla Copper-coloured ( refers to civilized Indians) F
36. Cabo-verde from Cabo Verde
37. Café Coffee-coloured
38. Café-com-leite Café au lait
39. Canela Cinnamon
40. Canelada somewhat like cinnamon F
41. Cardão colour of the cardoon, or thistle (blue-violet)
42. Castanha Chestnut F
43. Castanha-clara Light chestnut F
44. Castanha-escura Dark chestnut F
45. Chocolate Chocolate-coloured
46. Clara Light-coloured, pale F
47. Clarinha Light-coloured, pale F dimin
48. Cobre Copper-coloured
49. Corada With a high colour F
50. Cor-de-café Coffee-coloured
51. Cor-de-canela Cinnamon-coloured
52. Cor-de-cuia Gourd-coloured
53. Cor-de-leite Milk-coloured (i.e. milk-white)
54. Cor-de-ouro Gold-coloured (i.e. golden)
55. Cor-de-rosa Pink
56. Cor-firme Steady-coloured
57. Crioula Creole F
58. Encerada Polished F
59. Enxofrada Pallid F
60. Esbranquecimento Whitening
61. Escura Dark F
62. Escurinha Very dark F dimin
63. Fogoió Having fiery-colored hair
64. Galega Galician or Portuguese F
65. Galegada Somewhat like a Galician or Portuguese F
66. Jambo Light-skinned (the colour of a type of apple)
67. Laranja Orange
68. Lilás Lilac
69. Loira Blonde F
70. Loira-clara Light blonde F
71. Loura Blonde F
72. Lourinha Petite blonde F dimin
73. Malaia* Malaysian woman F
74. Marinheira Sailor-woman F
75. Marrom Brown
76. Meio-amarela Half-yellow F
77. Meio-branca Half-white F
78. Meio-morena Half dark-skinned F
79. Meio-preta Half-black F
80. Melada Honey-coloured F
81. Mestiça Half-caste/mestiza F
82. Miscigenação Miscegenation
83. Mista Mixed F
84. Morena Dark-skinned, brunette F
85. Morena-bem-chegada Very nearly morena F
86. Morena-bronzeada Sunburnt morena F
87. Morena-canelada Somewhat cinnamon-coloured morena F
88. Morena-castanha Chestnut-coloured morena F
89. Morena-clara Light-skinned morena F
90. Morena-cor-de-canela Cinnamon-coloured morena F
91. Morena-jambo Light-skinned morena F
92. Morenada Somewhat morena F
93. Morena-escura Dark morena F
94. Morena-fechada Dark morena F
95. Morenão Dark-complexioned man M aug
96. Morena-parda Dark morena F
97. Morena-roxa Purplish morena F
98. Morena-ruiva Red-headed morena F
99. Morena-trigueira Swarthy, dusky morena F
100. Moreninha Petite morena F dimin
101. Mulata Mulatto girl F
102. Mulatinha Little mulatto girl F dimin
103. Negra Negress F
104. Negrota Young negress F
105. Pálida Pale F
106. Paraíba From Paraíba
107. Parda Brown F
108. Parda-clara Light brown F
109. Parda-morena Brown morena F
110. Parda-preta Black-brown F
111. Polaca Polish woman F
112. Pouco-clara Not very light F
113. Pouco-morena Not very dark-complexioned F
114. Pretinha Black – either young, or small F
115. Puxa-para-branco Somewhat towards white F
116. Quase-negra Almost negro F
117. Queimada Sunburnt F
118. Queimada-de-praia Beach sunburnt F
119. Queimada-de-sol Sunburnt F
120. Regular Regular, normal
121. Retinta Deep-dyed, very dark F
122. Rosa Rose-coloured (or the rose itself) F
123. Rosada Rosy F
124. Rosa-queimada Sunburnt-rosy F
125. Roxa Purple F
126. Ruiva Redhead F
127. Russo Russian M
128. Sapecada Singed F
129. Sarará Yellow-haired negro
130. Saraúba* (poss. dialect) Untranslatable
131. Tostada Toasted F
132. Trigo Wheat
133. Trigueira Brunette F
134. Turva Murky F
135. Verde Green
136. Vermelha Red F


Posted in Definitions on 2012-11-09 05:03Z by Steven

Sambo is a term for a person with African heritage and, in some countries, also mixed with Native American heritage (see zambo)….

Source: Wikipedia.

White Supremacy

Posted in Definitions on 2012-05-13 18:14Z by Steven

White Supremacy is an historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations, and peoples classified as “non-White” by continents, nations, and peoples who, by virtue of their white (light) skin pigmentation and/or ancestral origin from Europe, classify themselves as “White.” Although history illuminates the fabrication, changeability, and contingencies of Whiteness (e.g. the case of Irish and Italians once being denied entry into the White “race”), it is important to note that this global power system is structured and maintained not for the purpose of legitimizing racial categories as much as it is for the purpose of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power, and privilege. Thus, it has been Whites who have constructed racial categories based on the economic, political, and social aspirations of Whites, for the benefits of Whites (L. Ross, 1995). In this way, Whites define who is White; a definition that has changed and will likely continue to change based upon the particular economic, political, and social conditions of the moment (e.g. the case of Egyptians now being classified as White when they were once classified as Arab, and previously as Black). It is clear then that White supremacy is based less on racial Whiteness (as evidenced by skin color) than it is on ideological Whiteness—the exclusive value assigned that involves “a series of immunities, privileges, rights, and assumptions…” This [value is] not inherent, natural, or biologically determined. Rather [it reflects] artificial beliefs created by social, economic, and political conditions” (L. Ross, 1995).

Yaba Amgborale Blay, “Skin Bleaching and Global White Supremacy: By Way of Introduction,” The Journal of Pan African Studies, (Volume 4, Number 4, June 2011): 6-7.

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race (2)

Posted in Definitions on 2012-05-09 02:16Z by Steven

Race: A social invention originating as a folk idea and ideology about human differences in order to create a white elite based on white race supremacy and to justify the exploitation of darker skinned people.

Scot Nakagawa, Race Files: On Race and Racism in our Politics and Daily Lives.

Racial Democracy

Posted in Definitions on 2012-04-06 19:47Z by Steven

Racial democracy is the notion that Brazilian society is relatively free from the racial prejudice, discrimination, and tension found historically in the United States, South Africa, and other western nations. Supporters of this view indicate as evidence in its favor Brazil’s alleged peaceful abolition of slavery, the supposed lack of racial violence, the prominence of blacks in Brazilian historical and literary works, the absence of “Jim Crow” or apartheid laws, and the pervasive miscegenation of Brazilian society (Freyre 1986, 1963a; Degler 1986; Freire-Maia 1987; Fiola 1990).

Alan Doyle Myatt, “Religion and Racial Identity in the Movimento Negro of the Roman Catholic Church in Brazil,” (Ph.D. dissertation, Iliff School of Theology and The University of Denver, 1995).

mulatto escape hatch

Posted in Definitions on 2011-12-10 22:07Z by Steven

The “mulatto escape hatch” (Degler 1986), also called the “intermediate mulatto stratum” (Safa 1998), refers to the notion that someone can be born black, yet become mulatto through an increase in social status, or intergenerational whitening. This intermediate category emerged from the large free colored population in many Latin American countries during the time of slavery (Safa 1998; Skidmore 1993; Smedley 2007). The creation of the mulatto category, which possessed some benefits over blacks, was a mechanism of social control insofar as the possibility of moving out of the category “black” inhibited alliances among people of African descent (Daniel 2006). Peter Wade (1997) contends that in Latin America, racially mixed children are recognized as socially distinct from their parents. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva (2004) explains that Latin American countries have a tri-racial system, in which an intermediate group buffers race conflict. Luisa Schwartzman (2007) also claims that, in Brazil, “browns serve as a buffer zone between blacks and whites” (p. 944).

Tanya Golash-Boza, “Does Whitening Happen? Distinguishing between Race and Color Labels in an African-Descended Community in Peru,” Social Problems, Volume 57, Number 1, (February 2010): 140.