Posted by: | February 10, 2009 | Comments Off on Mestisaje

I found the first text quite long and too dense so I had some difficulties to remain concentrated while reading. On contrary, I really enjoyed reading the second one which was very clear and explained very well the different conceptions of « mestisaje ». It’s very interesting to compare these two texts.The first one is very optimistic, enthusiastic about mixture. It celebrates the cultural and spiritual mix generated by mestisaje but doesn’t analyze the different kinds of mestisaje contrary to the second one. According to Vasconcelos, mestisaje is a cultural wealth so he emphasizes the idea of inclusion but doesn’t refer to the reverse side explained by Wade: the exclusion of one of the two parts. A mix doesn’t mean that two parts are equally mixed, one could dominate on one another.

I found Wade’s article very interesting because it really analyzed the different faces of mestisaje so I would like to focus on it. The first idea one could have about mestisaje is a mix but Wade shows this mix is more complex. According to him it’s not rigid, it’s a lived experience and also a matter of perception. He develops three main issues: mestisaje as inclusive, exclusive and as different powers.
It’s inclusive insofar as mixture implies that theoretically no part predominates on the others. They are all mixed together in order to produce something else. Vasconcelos emphasizes this idea of creation of something new through the mix. However, Wade shows that sometimes one part could dominate or tuned attractive in relation to the other one. Mixed people have the choice to express one particular side of what they are. For Wade, blackness or indigenousness tend to be erased by whiteness because it is what is made attractive by the Latin American institutions so one part could be repressed that’s why it is exclusive. Being mestizo is an inside feeling but this feeling could be biased by both the political and societal institutions.

Finally, Wade uses the metaphor of a mosaic. A mosaic is an accumulation of different colors which are not mixed together. Thanks to this image he describes mestisaje as different and separated strengths, powers. Mestisaje doesn’t produce a new race but gives birth to people with multiple cultural backgrounds as assets.

I’m also a mixed-race people because my father is Cambodian and my mother is French so it was interesting to think what I felt about that, to try to find in which category I could be. I can’t say that my feelings correspond exactly to one particular category but I think I view my Cambodian legacy as an asset, a cultural wealth that‘s why I like turning attractive this aspect of me. I’m interested in the culture and the political situation. I can’t say I express my Cambodian part in my daily life or that I know what Cambodian people feel because my habits are totally European and I’ve never been to Cambodia however it’s a part of me, of my physical appearance.


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