Race and Classification: The Case of Mexican America

By Ilona Katzew; Susan Deans-Smith | Go to book overview

Acknowledgments

THIS BOOK ORIGINATED with a conference organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in conjunction with the exhibition Inventing Race: Casta Painting and Eighteenth-Century Mexico, on May 1, 2004. The goal of the symposium was to place the creation of casta paintings in a historical context and discuss how issues of racial classification and racial “perceptions” continue to shape our lives. Although the exhibition focused exclusively on the colonial era, lessons were constantly being drawn with the present by the press and the public, particularly in a city such as Los Angeles. Like so many other places in the United States, Los Angeles is a city with one foot firmly anchored in the future, and the other in the past. In this megalopolis people from a multiplicity of backgrounds come together, and yet there is also a profound sense of dislocation. Issues of race and racial categorization are especially poignant in Los Angeles, a place where the histories of Mexico and the United States are deeply intertwined. The purpose of the conference, and now this volume, was to discuss some of these issues in contemporary times, and to assess how many of our concepts of place and selfhood are rooted in the Iberian past, if not before.

After many years of thinking about collaborating on a project given our shared interests in history and art history, we were finally able to join forces on editing this volume. For both of us this has been a highly collegial and rewarding experience—a bond of several years now. Together, we first wish to thank David Theo Goldberg, director of the University of California Humanities Research Institute, a noted expert on race, who co-organized the symposium with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He was supportive

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