Laura A. Lewis Chocolate and Corn Flour: History, Race, and Place in the Making of "Black" Mexico

By Bristol, Joan | Canadian Journal of Latin American & Caribbean Studies, July 2012 | Go to article overview

Laura A. Lewis Chocolate and Corn Flour: History, Race, and Place in the Making of "Black" Mexico


Bristol, Joan, Canadian Journal of Latin American & Caribbean Studies


Laura A. Lewis

Chocolate and Corn Flour: History, Race, and Place in the Making of "Black" Mexico

Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012, xv + 362 pp.

Chocolate and Corn Flour tackles themes central to Mexico's past and present: national identity, race and racism, and the meaning of home, community, and self-identity within the context of migration. Lewis explores these issues through an ethnography of San Nicolas Tolentino, a moreno town in the state of Guerrero, and extends her study in the final chapter to the San Nicoladense migrant community in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Unlike scholars who have focused on San Nicoladenses' African roots, she examines what she identifies as a moreno identity, translating "moreno" as "black Indian." This involves two steps: Lewis studies the current community of San Nicolas and its colonial and independence-era history. She also unearths assumptions underlying scholarship on race and blackness in Mexico and traces their impact on coastal residents as well as Mexican and US scholars.

Lewis claims that, instead of seeing themselves as "Afro-Mexicans" or "Afro-Mestizos," as scholars have identified them, San Nicoladenses see themselves as black Indians and as Mexicans. San Nicolas is located on the Costa Chica, a coastal belt straddling the states of Guerrero and Oaxaca. Its residents, like many on the coast, identify as morenos and are of African descent, although not exclusively. Lewis explores the interactions between morenos, Indians (including Amuzgos and Mixtecs), and whites (largely outsiders to the coast). She is particularly interested in San Nicoladenses' interactions with "culture workers." These politicians, artists, journalists, community organizers, and scholars espouse the "Africa thesis," John McDowell's term for the belief that the coastal culture is African to a large degree. Lewis reveals the Africa thesis as a US import, a set of assumptions passed by the anthropologist Melville Herskovits to his disciple Gonzalo Aguirre Beltran, the influential 20th-century scholar of people of African descent in Mexico. Current groups such as Mexico Negro and the Meetings of Black Towns, organized to unite economically disadvantaged communities and claim political recognition, rest on this thesis. Lewis does not deny the importance of their efforts, yet she argues that the Africa thesis and the search for African survivals do not reflect morenos' identities as black Indians. She claims that community groups do not address moreno concerns, which are more about daily survival and the need to migrate for work and less about possible connections between coastal and African cultural practices. Moreover, Lewis notes that many elements that Aguirre Beltran and others saw as African--a style of building round houses and religious ideas about the soul and destiny--are also found in indigenous cultures. Lewis points out that the Africa thesis, meant to include morenos in the formulation of Mexican national identity and bring them into diasporic discussions, actually serves to distance morenos by implying they are outsiders to Mexico.

Lewis demonstrates how morenos have developed their identity within an understanding of mestizaje, or racial mixing, the discourse that undergirds Mexican national identity. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Laura A. Lewis Chocolate and Corn Flour: History, Race, and Place in the Making of "Black" Mexico
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.