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Lecture | Colloquium Contemporary History of Latin America

Ethnicity and racism in present-day Latin America. Cases from Bolivia, Chile and Mexico

Thursday 4 April 2019
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

Skin colour and ethnic identity are no self-evident in Latin America. They are complex constructs that criss cross racial and social boundaries. For instance, descendants from the African diaspora can identify themselves as white, according to the social standing. There is much ambiguity in the way Latin Americans perceive and define their own ethnic and social identity.

The colour and identity of Latin Americans is for the most part shaped by the experience of colonisation. The exploitation and extermination of indigenous populations and the introduction of a system of casts, resulted in a structure that had the Peninsular (Spaniard born in Spain) at the top. The white, Catholic man with Western notions of order and progress, became both the authority but also the ideal in the colonial society. Like this, a hierarchy based on skin colour,  pigmentocracy, was installed, with the whitest white on top, and a long array of grey tonalities to capture the colours of indigenous Latin Americans.

But international migration, democratisation and the recognition of indigenous rights, have an impact on the perceptions of race and ethnicity among Latin Americas. What kinds of elements are distinctive of ethnicty? How is the ethnic identity of Latin Americans defined? Into what extent ethnicity and race influence the destiny of Latin Americans? How are these structures of colour and race challenged today?

In this colloquium, we will look at on-going developments in the Latin American region. We will look at specific cases in Bolivia, Chile and Mexico.

Participants: Prof.Dr. Patricio Silva, Dr. Soledad Valdivia, Dr. José Carlos G. Aguiar, Dr. Pablo Isla.

Date and place: Thursday 4 April 2019, 15-17 hrs., Lipsius Building room 148.

In case of questions, please write to Dr. J.C.G.Aguiar: j.c.g.aguiar@hum.leidenuniv.nl

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