No Longer a Racial Democracy: Critical Whiteness in Latin America and the Caribbean

submitted by admin on 05/02/21 1

AfroLatinx Voices Series Black activists and academics across the disciplines have long known Latin America and the Caribbean to be far from a racial paradise. However, the region continues to hold a global perception as a racial democracy, on the basis of national narratives of a congenial race mixture that makes "race" itself appear to be an obsolete category for critique. Reinforced by revisionist histories manifested by the state, popular culture, and everyday discourse, whiteness in Latin America and the Caribbean is characterized in these narratives as more benevolent than its North American iterations. This cultural and biological mixture between people of European, Africans, and Native descent is often described as mutually constructive, benign, and even loving, allowing for the continued dismissal of whiteness as a structure and lived experience circumscribed by a complex system of privileges rigged against Indigenous and Afrodescendant peoples in the region. In the fourth and final event of the AfroLatinx Voices series, we bring together three interdisciplinary Black studies scholars to discuss how their work contributes to the burgeoning field of critical whiteness in Latin America and the Caribbean. Erika Denise Edwards is an associate professor of Latin American History at the University of North Carolina. She is the author of the recent book "Hiding in Plain Sight: Black Women, the Law, and the Making of a White Argentine Republic." Isar Godreau is a researcher at the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research at the University of Puerto Rico at Cayey. She is the author of "Arrancando mitos de raíz: guía para la enseñanza antirracista de la herencia africana en Puerto Rico" and "Scripts of Blackness: Race, Cultural Nationalism and US Colonialism in Puerto Rico." Patricia de Santana Pinho is a Brazilian social scientist and associate professor in the Department of Latin American and Latino Studies at UC Santa Cruz. She is the author of “Mama Africa: Reinventing Blackness in Bahia” and "Mapping Diaspora: African American Roots Tourism in Brazil." Moderator: John Mundell is a Ph.D. candidate in African American & African Diaspora Studies at UC Berkeley and co-founder of the Blackness in Latin America Working Group. His research analyzes racial democracy, race, sexuality, and popular culture in Brazil and the Atlantic world. Presented by the Blackness in Latin America and the Caribbean Working Group, and cosponsored by the Center for Latin American Studies, the Departments of African American Studies, Gender & Women's Studies, English, Comparative Literature, Ethnic Studies, and Spanish & Portuguese, as well as Professor Nadia Ellis and the Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities.

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