José Vasconcelos: The Prophet of Race

José Vasconcelos: The Prophet of Race

José Vasconcelos: The Prophet of Race

José Vasconcelos: The Prophet of Race

Synopsis

Mexican educator and thinker José Vasconcelos is to Latinos what W.E.B. Du Bois is to African Americans--a controversial scholar who fostered an alternative view of the future. In Josè Vasconcelos: The Prophet of Race, his influential 1925 essay, "Mestizaje" key to understanding the role he played in the shaping of multiethnic America--is for the first time showcased and properly analyzed. Freshly translated here by John H. R. Polt, "Mestizaje" suggested that the Brown Race from Latin America was called to dominate the world, a thesis embraced by activists and scholars north and south of the Rio Grande. Ilan Stavans insightfully and comprehensively examines the essay in biographical and historical context, and considers how many in the United States, especially Chicanos during the civil rights era, used it as a platform for their political agenda. The volume also includes Vasconcelos's long-forgotten 1926 Harris Foundation Lecture at the University of Chicago, "The Race Problem in Latin America," where he cautioned the United States that rejecting mestizaje in our own midst will ultimately bankrupt the nation.

Excerpt

José Vasconcelos’s La raza cósmica (The Cosmic Race), a book explaining why mestizos are called to create a balanced, harmonious civilization that will dominate the world in the twenty-first century and beyond, remains enormously influential in the Spanishspeaking world as well as among Latinos in the United States. Since its original publication in 1925, it has been copiously debated by politicians and intellectuals alike.

Vasconcelos (1882–1959) was an educator and intellectual, Mexico’s secretary of education, the first chancellor of the most important public institution of higher learning in Latin America, and also a candidate in the nation’s 1929 presidential election. But he is mostly known as a thinker interested in a variety of topics, from the role of emotions in human life to the junction where race, science, and politics meet. Unfortunately, he is also recurrently portrayed as a fraud—un charlatán.

The accusation is not unfounded. Vasconcelos’s central argument in The Cosmic Race, using social Darwinism as his platform, is pseudoscientific, not to say spurious. His diet of biological, anthropological, and sociological sources is bizarre. And, even more dangerous, his opinions, developed in reaction to British philosopher Herbert Spencer’s views of racial purity and Austrian scientist Gregor Mendel’s theory of transmitted hereditary, have . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.