Marisol de la Cadena

Marisol de la Cadena. Indigenous Mestizos: The Politics of Race and Culture in Cuzco, Peru, 1919-1991. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000.

Marisol de la Cadena’s Indigenous Mestizos tracks the roots and practices of what she calls “de-indianization,” or the process by which the racism that differentiates between categories of “Indian” and “mestizo” is reproduced and contested by working-class Cuzco residents. Balancing intellectual history and ethnography, the book charts elite ideas of race throughout the twentieth century and then examines the ambivalent reprocessing of those ideas by indigenous organizations, other intellectuals, as well as in daily practice in markets, and public and religious rituals.

She argues that Cuzco elites first developed a discourse of indigenismo as a way of distinguishing themselves from the modernist discourses of mestizaje that were associated with Lima. Meanwhile indigenous groups like the Comité Pro-Derecho Indígena Tawuantinsuyu perpetuated a vision of Indian-ness steeped in modern rhetoric of progress through education. By the 1930s and 1940s indigenista elites found competition in the form of “neo-indianist” ideas that, rather than exalting an idealized Inca past, promoted a discourse of mestizaje. Finally there were the Marxists, who, in the form of the Federación de Trabajadores del Cuzco in the 1950s and in the form of the government by the time Velasco famously turned Indians into peasants, represented the closest allies of indigenous cuzqueños. In the waning days of indigenismo, after the defeat of the Tawantinsuyu’s racialized pro-indigenous project, the alignment of indigenous issues with unions meant a confluence of race and class. While de la Cadena argues biology had never served the basis for twentieth-century racial categories, the general trajectory that she describes is one in which Indian-ness goes from being defined by culture, to being defined by class.

Hooker, Juliet

Hooker, Juliet. “Indigenous Inclusion/Black Exclusion: Race, Ethnicity and Multicultural Citizenship in Latin America.” Journal of Latin American Studies 37, no. 2 (2005): 285-310.

Hooker takes on the question of how, under what Van Cott calls the Multicultural Model, Afro-Latino struggles have not succeeded in securing the same types of rights and recognition that indigenous peoples have. She begins with a statistical overview that shows black marginality to be as—indeed in some cases like Colombia’s Pacific coast, more—severe than that of indigenous Latin Americans. Challenging prior assertions that explained this discrepancy in terms of differential population sizes, mobilization in defense of rights and the capacity to organize, she argues that “the main criterion used to determine the recipients of collective rights in Latin America has been the possession of a distinct cultural group identity,” and not the experience of racial discrimination and socio-economic or political marginalization. (291)

First she examines the holes in prior arguments that tried to explain this phenomenon. Using the case of Colombia in 1991 specifically and resorting to more general region-wide information, she demonstrates that Afro-Latinos were often involved in struggles much like those of indigenous peoples analyzed by the likes of Yashar, García and Van Cott. However, she sees one fundamental distinction in the way that their respective struggles were perceived by national elites and the public at large: that of Afro-Latinos as based on a position of anti-discrimination, and that of indigenous peoples as rooted in a collective sense of identity that differentiated them from the rest of the national polity.

Orlove, Benjamin

Orlove, Benjamin S. “Down to Earth: Race and Substance in the Andes.” Bulletin of Latin American Research 17, no. 2 (1998): 207-222.
I wrote far too much on the last Orlove piece I posted on, so I’ll try and keep this one succinct. This piece deals with the intersections of people’s relation to the earth and racialized identities. Specifically it looks at the way everyday objects of two categories—earthen and earth-touching—participate in the way mestizo (read urban) and Indian (read rural) identities are construed.

Regarding Earthen objects, Orlove looks at adobe bricks, dirt roads and clay pots. As case studies he addresses: one community member’s attempt not to pisar tierra by purchasing his share of bricks to contribute to a community school; the butting territorialities of government ministries and villagers as played out on roads connecting the highway and the shore of Lake Titicaca; and “earthy taste” of food prepared in clay pots.

Shoes and floors are the two earth-touching types of objects that interest Orlove. Kinds, uses, and the shininess of shoes supposedly differentiate race, while it is the kind and cleaning of floors that marks one mestizo or Indian.

Orlove, Benjamin

Orlove, Benjamin S. “Putting Race in Its Place: Order in Colonial and Postcolonial Peruvian Geography.” Social Research 60, no. 2 (Summer93 1993): 301-336.

Orlove discusses the shift in notions of ordered space that occurred between the colonial and republican periods in Peru. Dividing his study temporally between the production of colonial and republican geographies, he looks at settlements, mountains and Indians as objects of geographic study and asks how their ordering was conditioned by disciplinary, administrative and hegemonic impulses.  

To form what he calls the colonial geography produced between 1574 and 1790, Orlove looks at the relaciones geográficas, the descripciones and the itinerarios produced by colonial officials. He highlights the prominence of the Greek variables of hot/cold and wet/dry as they were used to designate parts of the viceroyalty and shows how this facilitated a correlation between geography and medicine. (305) Through this correlation we see that space was marked more by climate than topography—although it was a factor—and that climate was read as determining health (think “Buenos Aires”). 

Appelbaum, Nancy P., Anne S. Macpherson and Karin Alejandra Rosemblatt eds.

Appelbaum, Nancy P., Anne S. Macpherson and Karin Alejandra Rosemblatt eds. Race & Nation in Modern Latin America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003.

As the title implies, this volume takes on nation and race. In dealing with both, the approach taken involves looking at articulation and process in a way that challenges static notions of either category. Thus Anderson’s theory of imagining nation is complicated by examining how that imagining took on different forms at different times, and the authors focus on racialization—the process of contention and negotiation by which meanings of race are articulated—as a conceptual tool used to approach the general question of why different articulations of race arose at different points in time.

With regard to the use of Nation as a conceptual tool, the aim of this volume it to more clearly historicize the way different discourses of nation have been mobilized. To this end the editors resort to a loose periodization that goes past Anderson’s prioritizing of the independence movements to look at how new definitions of nation emerged with the commodity booms, mass migrations and processes of proletarianization of the late nineteenth century, or the populist projects of the depression era, or the post-war rise of modernization schemes and social movements.

Stepan, Nancy Leys

Stepan, Nancy Leys. Picturing Tropical Nature. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001.

Picturing Tropical Nature looks at the ways the tropics, tropical people and tropical diseases have been represented over the past two centuries. Decidedly anti-post-structuralist, Stepan works under the assumption that the accounts, illustrations, photographs and gardens that she analyzes symbolically represent a guiding mentality, thus the material she looks at is not considered to possess and exercise its own power, based on its position at the nexus of cultural transformations (as Andermann, Rowe et al, would have it). Instead, Humboldt’s depiction of the Andean volcanoes, Chimborazo and Cotopaxi; Wallace’s tale of eating a monkey; Agassiz’s anti-Darwinist (casta) photos; the images of elephantiasis and Chagas’s disease; Roberto Burle Marx’s landscape designs; all of these are examples of media symbolically endowed with the ideas of their authors and their times. (To keep track, I’ll list the person, representations and world-view that she deals with below.)

This point of view troubles me because—well, because I would tend to side with the post-structuralists—but my concern is that, by not taking into account the role these representations play in determining, as much as reflecting, the popular tropical theories of their time, Stepan is loosing sight of a major variable. She has chosen each figure and their representations because she says they mark a significant change in the way tropical nature is portrayed. But by only focusing on the ideology they represent, without much consideration of how they influence formation of ideologies, we miss out a lot of the story.

Merchant, Carolyn

Merchant, Carolyn. “Shades of Darkness: Race and Environmental History.” Environmental History, Vol. 8, No. 3 (Jul., 2003), pp. 380-394.

This article draws attention to the shifting relations between race and environment in the literature on North American wilderness. It begins with some bullet points on five different perspectives through which these two subjects have been treated in the past and then goes on to discuss the way in which the discursive separation of wilderness and civilization “reads Native Americans out of wilderness.” (381) This argument is substantiated through analyses of the works of John Muir, Helen Hunt Jackson and Mary Austin.

While discussing the way blacks were portrayed in relation to environment, Merchant points out that, ironically, at the same time Muir was decrying how filthy Indians soiled pristine nature, blacks were being associated with the filth of the city, with civilization painted as dark and foreboding in works such as Robert Woods’ The City Wilderness and Booth Tarkington’s The Turmoil. Here we see a continued whitening of empty, pristine wilderness, apt for affluent tourists while at the same time civilization is increasingly characterized—in contrast to conquest narratives from Cortés to Sarmiento—as a negative racialized other.

In her treatment of the conservation movement of the early part of the twentieth century, Merchant juxtaposes Muir’s disregard for minorities in his defense of wilderness with Thoreau’s fusion of humanity into the natural world. She then posits Aldo Leopold’s ethic as a middle ground where the rights of nature eventually translate into the rights of minorities.