Negotiating Identities in Modern Latin America

Negotiating Identities in Modern Latin America

Negotiating Identities in Modern Latin America

Negotiating Identities in Modern Latin America

Synopsis

Negotiating Identities in Modern Latin America explores some of the ways in which people define their membership in groups and their collective identity, as well as some of the challenges to the definition and maintenance of that identity. This interdisciplinary collection of essays, addressing such diverse topics as the history of Brazilian football and the concept of masculinity in the Mexican army, provides new insights into questions of identity in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Latin America. The essays cover a wide range of countries in the region, from Mexico to Argentina, and analyze a variety of identity-bearing groups, from small-scale communities to nations. Editor Hendrik Kraay has gathered contributions from historians and anthropologists. Their individual methodological and theoretical approaches combine to paint a picture of Latin American society that is both complex and compelling. The chapters focus on the day-to-day construction of identity among ordinary people, from American nationals living in Peru to indigenous communities in Argentina.

Excerpt

Identity has surged to the forefront of scholarly interest among Latin Americanists, as a quick glance at recent titles published in the field reveals. the demise of old political certainties in the aftermath of the Cold War and the rise of political movements that draw their strength not from class but from other politicized social identities – notably the black movement in Brazil and the indigenous movements in Andean countries – urge closer attention to the ways in which groups collectively define themselves as different from others. the apparent weakening of the nation-state, never very strong to begin with in Latin America, and the recognition that nationalist claims are inherently unstable and inevitably contested points to the need to consider other collective identities that are important to people.

These broad concerns inform the chapters that follow, which focus not on the “high” politics of identity but on its day-to-day negotiation. Their authors hail from different disciplines (history and anthropology) and work throughout the region of Latin America. Their subjects are different social groups, ranging from privileged European and North American expatriates to poverty-stricken rural Maya and black residents of urban Brazil’s slums. the contributors share a common interest in how identities are constructed; they eschew essentialist notions of primordial identities and rather focus on the fundamentally political acts of identities’ social construction or their negotiation.

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