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Key Issues and Texts: Perspectives on Race in Latin America

Seminar 1: Introduction to critical race theory in Latin America (LDW)

This lecture functions as an introduction to critical race theory in Latin America, with a focus on the empirical, theoretical, and historical literatures. We consider critical approaches to studying and conceptualizing race and racism, with an eye to how race is constructed, and how racial categories are delineated, managed, and resisted. The goal of this lecture is to develop a working knowledge of critical race theory that can be used throughout the rest of the module.

Key texts

  • Thomas, Deborah. 2011. Exceptional Violence: Embodied Citizenship in Transnational Jamaica. Durham: Duke University Press.* [e-book available from library]
  • Smith, Christen, A. 2015. Afro-Paradise: Blackness, Violence and Performance in Brazil. University of Illinois Press.* [e-book available from library]
  • Wade, Peter. 1997. Race and Ethnicity in Latin America, Second Edition. London: Pluto Press

*Read either of these two books and be prepared to discuss in conversation with the book by Wade

Seminar 2: Policing Racial Capitalism (GDW)

This session uses one remarkable recent book to think deliberately about the structural conditions and uses of race in a highly inequitable society.  We will discuss how naming race matters, how assumptions about objective knowledge obscure Racial subordination and the ways that capitalism shapes and constrains the possibility of freedom,  especially for urban black populations.

Key issues

  • Racial Containment
  • Policing as Structural Violence
  • Knowledge Claims as Lived Experience

Key texts

  • Amaro Alves,  Jaime. (2018). The Anti-black City: Police Terror and Black Urban Life in Brazil. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. (e-book)
  • Smith, C. A. (2016). Facing the Dragon: Black Mothering, Sequelae, and Gendered Necropolitics in the Americas. Transforming Anthropology, 24(1), 31-48. (Moodle)

Seminar 3: Race, space and place: urban governance and biopolitics (LDW)

This lecture considers how conceptions of race underlie the governance of cities, with a focus on Foucauldian biopolitics and literatures on space&place. Taking a historical approach, this lecture covers 19th and 20th century policies of eugenics, infrastructure, land rights and security in order to interrogate how urban planning and infrastructures are embedded within racial discourses that have profound impacts for how people differently experience the city. The guiding question is: How do the historical interaction and plural meanings of race impact governance and the experience of space and place in the city?

Key texts

  • Harris, Cheryl. 1993. Whiteness as Property. Harvard Law Review, Vol. 106, No. 8 (Jun., 1993), pp. 1707-1791
  • Nemser, Daniel. 2017. Infrastructures of Race: Concentration and Biopolitics in Colonial Mexico. University of Texas Press. [check with CLAS Librarian]

Extra reading: (see Moodle)

  • Costa Vargas, Joao, H. 2014. Taking Back the Land: Police Operations and Sport Megaevents in Rio de Janeiro. A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society. 15(4):275-303.
  • Hayden, Dolores. The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History. Chapters 1 and 2.

Seminar 4: Race, gender and education in mestizo context (MMP & GCF) 

This seminar explores race, gender, and education in Latin America. In the first part, the seminar will explore the tensions between race and gender by focusing on the experiences of indigenous women across the region. Through various case studies in Central America and the Andes we interrogate issues such as indigenous justice, social and political movements, public policies, and indigenous women’s capacity to navigate multiple forms of oppression and the politics of identity. The guiding question of the first part of the seminar is: In a wider mestizo context, what challenges do indigenous women face in advancing their own agendas and rights?

The second part of the seminar focuses on how race became invisible in policy making that aimed to reduce inequalities in Mexico. The first reading shows how, in the Mexican mestizo context of the 20th Century, race was invisible for policy makers. Instead, they employed the concept of culture in different areas such as education, where the notion of “intercultural policies” became influential. As a result, new modes of racial dynamics against indigenous populations in higher education emerged. The concept of diversity is a good example of this: at the time that a new imaginary of a “plural Mexico” was emerging, new ways of conceptualizing difference in racial terms were also coming to the fore, as the second reading demonstrates. So the guiding question of the second part of this seminar is: In a mestizo context such as Mexico, in what way did multiculturalism allow the repositioning of new political subjects, but at the same time redefine new and more subtle ways of exercising racism?

Key texts (see Moodle)

  • Hernández Castillo, R. Aída. 2017. "Multiple Dialogues and Struggles for Justice: Political Genealogies of Indigenous Women in Mexico, Guatemala and Colombia." In Multiple Injustices. Indigenous Women, Law, and Political Struggle in Latin America, pp. 67-122. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press.
  • De Marinis, Natalia. 2017. "Intersectional Violence: Triqui Women Confront Racism, the State, and Male Leadership." In Demanding Justice and Security. Indigenous Women and Legal Pluralities in Latin America​. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
  • Picq, Manuela. 2010. "Trapped Between Gender and Ethnicity: Identity Politics in Ecuador." In R. Coate and M. Thiel, ​eds, Identity Politics in the Age of Globalization, pp. 31-56. Boulder: First Forum Press. )
  • Saldívar, Émiko. 2012. "Apuntes críticos sobre etnicidad y diferencias culturales." In Alicia Castellanos Guerrero y Gisela Landázuri Benítez (coord.)​, Racismos y otras formas de intolerancia de Norte a Sur en América Latina, 49-76​. México. Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana.
  • Mato, Daniel. 2016. "Indigenous People in Latin America. Achievements, Challenges and Intercultural Conflicts." Journal of Intercultural Studies 37:3, 211-233.

Bibliography

Seminar 5: Race and Intersecting Inequalities (PML)

This session discusses how inequalities in Latin America are structured along racial lines, as well as along the intersections of race, gender and class. The focus of the session is on income inequality, although attention is also paid to the distribution of other outcomes. Three questions guide the discussion: to what extent does inequality have a racial (and intersectional) dimension in Latin America, what are the causes of this configuration of inequality, and what are its effects. A key concern is to identify interactions between different inequality-producing mechanisms, with implications for gender, race and class inequality, and to explore the theoretical frameworks that can account for the enduring presence of these mechanisms. To address these questions, this session discusses the distribution of education, the gendered and racialised aspects of the labour market, the social policy mix, and present as well as historical forms of discrimination.

Key issues

  • Racial inequality
  • Intersecting inequalities
  • Race, class and gender
  • Discrimination
  • Causes and consequences of inequality
  • Social policies, redistribution and intersecting inequalities

Key texts (see Moodle)

Bibliography

Seminar 6: Race, Eugenics and Reproductive Justice in Latin America (RSR)

Latin America plays a pivotal role in the struggle for reproductive justice. This lecture will explore the nineteenth century project of racial understanding that developed into what has been called scientific racism, involving forms of racial measurement and taxonomy. It will examine how historically specific ideas of race became ‘scientific truths’, and the implications of having the ‘respectability’ of science behind racist beliefs. Thus, we will explore the history of the body and race intersectionally to explore the echoes and continuations of scientific racism in contemporary Latin America.

Key issues

  • Reproductive Justice
  • Scientific Racism
  • Gender
  • Mestizaje
  • Technology

Key texts

  • Briggs, L. Reproducing Empire: Race, Sex, Science and U.S. Imperialism in Puerto Rico. Univeristy of California Press, 2003. (Introduction, Chapter 1: Sexuality, Medicine and Imperialism, Chapter 3: Debating Reproduction, Chapter 4: Demon Mothers in the Social Laboratory) (e-book)
  • Kaplana, W. In the name of reproductive rights: race, neoliberalism and the embodied violence of population policies. Righting Feminism. Vol 91, 2017. P.50-68. (Moodle)
  • López Beltrán, E. Restrepo, and R. Ventura Campos. Mestizo Genomics: Race Mixture, Nation, and Science in Latin America. Durham: Duke University Press. (e-book)
  • Preciado, P. Testo Junkie: Sex, Drugs and Biopolitics in the Pharmacopornographic Era. New York: The Feminist Press, 2013. (Somatic Fictions: The Invention of Sex Hormones) (CLAS Librarian)
  • Stepan, Nancy. "The hour of eugenics": Race, Gender, and Nation in Latin America. Ithaca, NY: Cornell U Press, 1996. (Chapter 2: Eugenics in Latin America: Its Origins and Institutional Ecology/Chapter 5: National Identities and Racial Transformations) (Moodle)

Bibliography