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Afrodescendants, Identity, and the Struggle for Development in the Americas

Bernd Reiter

Publication Year: 2012

Indigenous people and African descendants in Latin America and the Caribbean have long been affected by a social hierarchy established by elites, through which some groups were racialized and others were normalized. Far from being “racial paradises” populated by an amalgamated “cosmic race” of mulattos and mestizos, Latin America and the Caribbean have long been sites of shifting exploitative strategies and ideologies, ranging from scientific racism and eugenics to the more sophisticated official denial of racism and ethnic difference. This book, among the first to focus on African descendants in the region, brings together diverse reflections from scholars, activists, and funding agency representatives working to end racism and promote human rights in the Americas. By focusing on the ways racism inhibits agency among African descendants and the ways African-descendant groups position themselves in order to overcome obstacles, this interdisciplinary book provides a multi-faceted analysis of one of the gravest contemporary problems in the Americas.

Published by: Michigan State University Press

Series: African Diaspora Research Project Series


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Title Page, Copyright

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Prologue - Bernd Reiter

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pp. vii-xii

From April 28 to April 30, 2010, the Institute for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean (ISLAC) of the University of South Florida hosted an international conference entitled “Reexamining the Black Atlantic: Afro-Descendants Still at the Bottom?” The question was rhetorical, but the aim of asking it was not. As the organizer of the...

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pp. xiii-xxx

Development remains an elusive ideal. There is no agreement as to what development truly means and how generalizable some of its claims are. The most insightful approach on development comes from Amartya Sen (1999), who argues that development cannot be reduced to economic growth, because...

Part 1: The Black Atlantic Reexamined

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Building Black Diaspora Networks and Meshworks for Knowledge, Justice, Peace, and Human Rights

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pp. 3-17

If intellectuals, especially those based within academic settings, attempt to align their scholarship with the dismantling of racism in its multiple modalities and entanglements with other inequalities, then it is imperative that they collaborate in building alliances. Grassroots...

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Pan-Afro-Latin African Americanism Revisited: Legacies and Lessons for Transnational Alliances in the New Millennium

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pp. 19-48

Any survey of the literature on pan-Africanism reveals that works on Afro-Latin Americans are conspicuously absent. For much of the twentieth century, Afro-Latin Americans remained politically and culturally marginalized within their nation-states, and thus absent from international...

Part 2: Double-Consciousness and Black Identity - Globalized

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Haitians in the Dominican Republic: Race, Politics, and Neoliberalism

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pp. 51-66

Up until the earthquake in Haiti in January 2010, there had been a systematic pattern of human-rights violations towards poor Haitians in the Dominican Republic, which has had an enormously stigmatizing impact on the estimated one million Haitians...

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Navigating the Racial Terrain: Blackness and Mixedness in the United States and the Dominican Republic

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pp. 67-92

In 1999, Anthony, an African American student studying in the Dominican Republic, was detained at the border overnight when he and some Haitian friends decided to visit Haiti for the weekend. Having accepted the invitation to visit his friends’ families across the border from Dajabón, about two hours from Santiago where he was studying, Anthony...

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Negotiating Blackness within the Multicultural State in Latin America: Creole Politics and Identity in Nicaragua

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pp. 93-111

This essay explores the ways that Afro-descendant Creoles are currently reimagining their collective identities in Nicaragua, in the context of multicultural policies that guarantee collective rights to land and culture to both the indigenous and Afro-descendant inhabitants of the country’s Atlantic Coast. It traces changes in the way...

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Ethnic Identity and Political Mobilization: The Afro-Colombian Case

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pp. 113-139

In 1995 I was the student with the darkest skin color at the University of the Andes, one of the most influential academic institutions in Colombia. I was the only Afro-indigenous person out of more than ten thousand students. Some colleagues called me “the Negro...

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The Grammar of Color Identity in Brazil

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pp. 141-175

What logic does a social structure impose upon public policy? Could an identity structure be too complex or diffuse to implement categorical public policy such as affirmative action? Conversely, what impact does categorical public policy have upon an identity...

Part 3: Racism in “Raceless ”Societies and the State: The Difficulties of Addressing What Ought Not Exist

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Afro-Colombian Welfare: An Application of Amartya Sen’s Capability Approach Using Multiple Indicators Multiple Causes Modeling (MIMIC)

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pp. 179-206

Amartya Sen’s Capability Approach has emerged as an alternative framework to long-established economical approaches that seek to analyze individual welfare, poverty and human development from narrow monetary perspectives (Kuklys 2005; Clark 2005). The Capability...

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Racism in a Racialized Democracy and Support for Affirmative Action Policy in Salvador and São Paulo, Brazil

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pp. 207-230

University affirmative-action policies in Brazil have come under attack from a number of scholars who believe the program is inappropriate for Brazil’s multiracial population. Peter Fry et al.’s Dangerous Divisions: Racial Politics in Contemporary Brazil (2007) includes a number...

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Afro-Descendant Peoples and Public Policies: The Network of Afro-Latin American and Afro-Caribbean Women

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pp. 231-239

The very definition of racism, “the superiority of some people over others because of their membership in a particular ethnic or racial group,”1 leads us to assume a position of rejection and rebellion against its many expressions. This alleged superiority has only been...

Part 4: Migration, Diasporas,and the Importance of Local Knowledge

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Decolonizing the Imaging of African-Derived Religions

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pp. 243-267

In the vein of Harrison’s (1991) call to “decolonize anthropology,” I respond with a challenge to decolonize the imaging of African-derived religions. I attempt to expound on this process through a three-fold path. First, in order to decolonize, one must comprehend some of the historical processes and implications of colonization. In this case, I delineate...

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Neoliberal Dilemmas: Diaspora, Displacement, and Development in Buenos Aires

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pp. 269-289

The development of organizational capacity is key for the advancement of African diasporic people in any nation. Structural racism can thwart such efforts, as already marginalized individuals find themselves further isolated by the same policies that were designed...

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Pluralizing Race

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pp. 291-302

On October 23, 2006, in response to the debilitating repercussions of the U.S. housing crisis, a group of activists and homeless people took over a vacant public plot of land in Liberty City, Miami, Florida, with the slogan and mission “Take Back the Land.”1 Having denounced...

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pp. 303-310

This volume is a unique collection of essays by scholars, activists, and representatives from funding agencies. The starting point is the Black Atlantic (Gilroy 1993). Our aim here is to use the idea as a way of presenting and discussing issues that have been, and still are, relevant...


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pp. 311-314

E-ISBN-13: 9781609173241
E-ISBN-10: 1609173244
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611860405
Print-ISBN-10: 1611860407

Page Count: 330
Illustrations: Illustrated
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: African Diaspora Research Project Series
Series Editor Byline: Kimberly Eison Simmons, Series Editor See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 794293213
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Afrodescendants, Identity, and the Struggle for Development in the Americas

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Latin America -- Race relations.
  • United States -- Race relations.
  • Racially mixed people -- Race identity -- United States.
  • Social integration -- United States.
  • Racially mixed people -- Race identity -- Latin America.
  • Social integration -- Latin America.
  • Blacks -- Race identity -- Latin America.
  • African Americans -- Race identity.
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