Histories of Race and Racism

The Andes and Mesoamerica from Colonial Times to the Present

Histories of Race and Racism

Book Pages: 416 Illustrations: 11 photographs, 1 table, 2 maps Published: November 2011

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Latin American Studies > Andes, Native and Indigenous Studies

Ninety percent of the indigenous population in the Americas lives in the Andean and Mesoamerican nations of Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and Guatemala. Recently indigenous social movements in these countries have intensified debate about racism and drawn attention to the connections between present-day discrimination and centuries of colonialism and violence. In Histories of Race and Racism, anthropologists, historians, and sociologists consider the experiences and representations of Andean and Mesoamerican indigenous peoples from the early colonial era to the present. Many of the essays focus on Bolivia, where the election of the country’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales, sparked fierce disputes over political power, ethnic rights, and visions of the nation. The contributors compare the interplay of race and racism with class, gender, nationality, and regionalism in Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, and Peru. In the process, they engage issues including labor, education, census taking, cultural appropriation and performance, mestizaje, social mobilization, and antiracist legislation. Their essays shed new light on the present by describing how race and racism have mattered in particular Andean and Mesoamerican societies at specific moments in time.

Rossana Barragán
Kathryn Burns
Andrés Calla
Pamela Calla
Rudi Colloredo-Mansfeld
María Elena García
Laura Gotkowitz
Charles R. Hale
Brooke Larson
Claudio Lomnitz
José Antonio Lucero
Florencia E. Mallon
Khantuta Muruchi
Deborah Poole
Seemin Qayum
Arturo Taracena Arriola
Sinclair Thomson
Esteban Ticona Alejo


“While the temporal distribution of the collection favors the twentieth century, scholars of all time periods will benefit from the varied methodologies and perspectives presented by the contributors. Ultimately, this volume represents a very valuable collection of cutting-edge research into the permutations of race and racism throughout the history of Latin America.” — Robert C. Schwaller, Ethnohistories

“This is a superior and important book, which will be widely used and cited.” — Peter Wade, Journal of Latin American Studies

“A major contribution of this volume is the way in which it puts into dialogue histories of race from colonial times to the present, including current indigenous mobilizations. For this reason, it will be an excellent addition to undergraduate surveys and courses on race in Latin American history.”  — Waskar T. Ari-Chachaki, Social History

“The importance of this volume is multiple. It is timely, answering a need for deeper understanding of race/racism in the region given the growing number of violent racist incidents…Moreover, the volume brings together debates relevant to history as well as colonialism, subaltern studies, development studies, sociology, social policy and international relations.”  — Karem Roitman, Ethnic and Racial Studies

“This book performs the useful service of introducing the work of many of these scholars—especially the Latin American scholars—to an English-speaking audience. It does this while also crafting a whole that is more unified, with its various parts in dialogue with one another, than is usual in an edited collection. Laura Gotkowitz should be complimented on the accomplishment.” — Robert L. Smale, A Contracorriente

Histories of Race and Racism offers significant, accessible and clearly written contributions from the fields of history and cultural anthropology to the study of Indigenous identities and politics that will be useful for those teaching or writing about race and the colonial legacies of Latin America.” — Elizabeth Shesko, Journal of Colonialism & Colonial History

“This timely and important collection should appeal not just to historians of Latin America but also to scholars interested in colonialism, subaltern studies, social policy, modernization, and nation building. Focusing on race and racism in five countries over several centuries, the contributors address themes such as education, cultural nationalism, and definitions of mestizaje and hybridity, enabling readers to see how similar concerns played out in different places and times.” — Mary Roldán, author of Blood and Fire: La Violencia in Antioquia, Colombia, 1946–1953

“This valuable collection delves into issues of racism and indigenous identity at a regional level, in a way that no other book does. Focusing on Mesoamerica and the Andes, where most indigenous Latin Americans live, well-known specialists in their fields offer interesting, up-to-date scholarship on the discrimination that indigenous peoples have suffered from the colonial period to the present.” — Erick D. Langer, editor of Contemporary Indigenous Movements in Latin America

“... the collected essays from Gotkowitz have expanded the historiographical debate on race issues. They will provide an essential framework for historians in uncovering the contested and continuously shifting contexts within which race developed and currently exists in Latin America.”  — Paul Rellstab Ameriquests


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Laura Gotkowitz is Associate Professor of History at the University of Pittsburgh. She is the author of A Revolution for Our Rights: Indigenous Struggles for Land and Justice in Bolivia, 1880–1952, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: Racisms of the Present and the Past in Latin America / Laura Gotkowitz 1

Part I. The Uses of "Race" in Colonial Latin America

Unfixing Race / Kathryn Burns 57

Was There Race in Colonial Latin America?: Identifying Selves and Others in the Insurgent Andes / Sinclair Thomson 72

Part II. Racialization and the State in the Long Nineteenth Century

From Assimilation to Segregation: Guatemala, 1800–1944 / Arturo Taracena 95

The Census and the Making of a Social "Order" in Nineteenth-Century Boliva / Rossana Barragán 113

Forging the Unlettered Indian: The Pedagogy of Race in the Bolivian Andes / Brooke Larson 134

Part III. Racialization and Nationalist Mythologies in the Twentieth Century

Indian Ruins, National Origins: Tiwanaku and Indigenismo in La Paz, 1897–1933 / Seemin Qayum 159

Mestazaje, Distinction, and Cultural Presence: The View from Oaxaca / Deborah Poole 179

On the Origin of the "Mexican Race" / Claudio Lomnitz 204

Part IV. Antiracist Movements and Racism Today

Politics of Place and Urban Indigenas in Ecuador's Indigenous Movement / Rudi Colloredo-Mansfield 221

Education and Decolonization in the Work of the Aymara Activist Eduardo Leandro Nina Quispe / Esteban Ticona Alejo 240

Mistados, Cholos, and the Negation of Identity in the Guatemalan Highlands / Charles R. Hale 254

Authenticating Indians and Movements: Interrogating Indigenous Authenticity, Social Movements, and Fieldwork in Contemporary Peru / Maríia Elena García and José Antonio Lucero 278

Transgressions and Racism: The Struggle over a New Constitution in Bolivia / Andrés Calla and Khantuta Muruchi 299

Epilogue to "Transgressions and Racism": Making Sense of May 24th in Sucre: Toward an Antiracist Legislative Agenda / Pamela Calla and the Observatorio del Racismo 311

Part V. Concluding Comments

A Postcolonial Palimpsest: The Work Race Does in Latin America/ Florencia Mallon 321

Bibliography 337

Contributors 377

Index 381
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5043-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5026-2
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