The pernicious side of the term “mestizaje”

Posted by: | February 8, 2009 | Comments Off on The pernicious side of the term “mestizaje”

Before reading the text, I only consider the positive side of the term « mestizaje ». Indeed, I think that term implies that the two cultures are considered as equal and that their specificities are recognized. Nevertheless, throughout my reading, I understood that the term « mestizaje » is more complex. In fact, the mixing of people also implies some pernicious effects.

First, I must confess that in Vancelos’ article    some arguments scandalize me. Indeed, he clearly establishes a hierarchy between different races and considers some as civilized and other as uncivilized. Sometimes, his article reminds me the theory of Darwin about the differences between the races and the superiority to the White people over the other races. Obviously, according to him, there is a gap between the Whites and the indigenous. However, mixing the two, a new race ridded of its uncivilized customs could rise.  This « cosmic race » will erase the racial divides. Yet, even if, people who are « mestizaje » seem to be considered as equal as the Whites are, he does not explain whether people who have only indigenous background suffer from racism.
Conversely, Wade’s article points out that the concept of « mestizaje » does not only imply a process of inclusion but also a process of exclusion. Indeed, in many Latin American countries, the building of the nation-state was based on the concept of « mestizaje ». A race of « mestizaje » symbolizes the syncretism of two cultures, which transform themselves and create a new culture, which is impregnated of the two background cultures. Nevertheless, most of the time, one of the two cultures is consider as inferior to the other one. Thus, even if « the mestizaje » do not really suffer from racism, this does not mean that people who are from indigenous background do not suffer from race divides. In fact, they are still regarded as inferior.
Thus, the term « mestizaje » could be use to hide a form of racism which is not obvious but unconscious. As concerns popular culture, I think that, even if, the indigenous heritage of popular culture in Latin America is promoted, people from indigenous background are not as well integrated as other ones.


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