Race and Nation in Modern Latin America

Race and Nation in Modern Latin America

Race and Nation in Modern Latin America

Race and Nation in Modern Latin America


This collection brings together innovative historical work on race and national identity in Latin America and the Caribbean and places this scholarship in the context of interdisciplinary and transnational discussions regarding race and nation in the Americas. Moving beyond debates about whether ideologies of racial democracy have actually served to obscure discrimination, the book shows how notions of race and nationhood have varied over time across Latin America's political landscapes.

Framing the themes and questions explored in the volume, the editors' introduction also provides an overview of the current state of the interdisciplinary literature on race and nation-state formation. Essays on the postindependence period in Belize, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Panama, and Peru consider how popular and elite racial constructs have developed in relation to one another and to processes of nation building. Contributors also examine how ideas regarding racial and national identities have been gendered and ask how racialized constructions of nationhood have shaped and limited the citizenship rights of subordinated groups.

The contributors are Sueann Caulfield, Sarah C. Chambers, Lillian Guerra, Anne S. Macpherson, Aims McGuinness, Gerardo R Unique, James Sanders, Alexandra Minna Stern, and Barbara Weinstein.


We want it to be written into the Constitution that we indígenas are Mexican but that we have different cultures and traditions. Before 1994, being an indígena meant … abuse and humiliation, but now, as a result of our struggle, being an indígena is raising your head up high, with pride. This great Mexico that we have today is thanks to our forebears.

Queremos que quede escrito en la Constitución que los indígenas somos mexicanos pero
tenemos diferencias de cultura y tradiciones. Antes de 1994, ser indígena era … maltrato y
humillación, pero ahora con nuestra lucha ser indígena es ver con la cara arriba y con
orgullo. El gran México que hoy tenemos es gracias a nuestros antepasados.

COMANDANTE MOISÉS, Tzeltal member of the Ejército
Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, 2 December 2000

Ever since eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century colonial subjects conceived of creating independent republics out of highly stratified and diverse colonial societies, tensions between sameness and difference and between equality and hierarchy have shaped Latin American nation building. Elite and popular classes have argued about whether inclusion in the nation requires homogenization. Does equality among citizens necessitate merging distinct racial identi-

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