Yo Soy Negro
Blackness in Peru
Publication Year: 2011
Yo Soy Negro is the first book in English--in fact, the first book in any language in more than two decades--to address what it means to be black in Peru. Based on extensive ethnographic work in the country and informed by more than eighty interviews with Peruvians of African descent, this groundbreaking study explains how ideas of race, color, and mestizaje in Peru differ greatly from those held in other Latin American nations.
The conclusion that Tanya Maria Golash-Boza draws from her rigorous inquiry is that Peruvians of African descent give meaning to blackness without always referencing Africa, slavery, or black cultural forms. This represents a significant counterpoint to diaspora scholarship that points to the importance of slavery in defining blackness in Latin America as well as studies that place cultural and class differences at the center of racial discourses in the region.
Published by: University Press of Florida
Title Page, Copyright
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This book has benefited immensely from conversations, writing groups, social media, class discussions, seminars, workshops, online communities, and the goodwill of many people. I feel inclined to thank everyone I have met in the past few years. Alas, I cannot do that individually, but will do so en masse: thank you! ...
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It was a typically hot September afternoon in Ingenio de Buenos Aires, a small village in northern Peru. The Ingenio soccer team had won a match with the neighboring village. The losing team had gone back to their village, and a few men from Ingenio gathered around in a circle, passing a pitcher of chichi (corn beer) and a poto (gourd) from one person to the next. ...
1. Black, but Not African
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In Ingenio, most people consider themselves to be black. Few, however, think of themselves as the descendants of African slaves. Millions of Africans were displaced from their homelands through the slave trade and dispersed throughout the Americas, as well as into the Middle East and Europe (Segal 1995). ...
2. Locating Black Peruvians in Latin America
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In the first chapter, I explored the presumption that the history of slavery in Ingenio would give rise to a collective memory of slavery. In this chapter, I consider another common assumption: the presumed importance of cultural and social (as opposed to physical) attributes for defining race in Latin America. ...
3. Race and Color Labels in Peru
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Mirella Campoverde and Alejandro Ortiz are both Peruvian, yet inhabit vastly different worlds. Mirella is a dark-skinned, poor, single mother whose future holds little possibility for upward mobility. Dr. Ortiz is a fair-skinned, well-known anthropology professor. ...
4. Diasporic Discourses and Local Blackness Compared
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When these three Peruvians use the word black, what are they referring to? Can we presume that their willingness to use the word black, instead of moreno or brown, implies solidarity with people in other parts of the world who identify as blacks? Or, is the relationship between these uses of black and those in other parts of the diaspora purely semantic? ...
5. Black Is Beautiful or White Is Right?
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From time to time during my fieldwork in Ingenio, I would go to Señora Zulema’s house in the afternoons and watch telenovelas with her and Señora Gertrudis, her sister. Both women were in their fifties and lived relatively comfortably, although not nearly as luxuriously as the wealthy people portrayed in the telenovelas they watched. ...
6. The Politics of Difference in Peru
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In this book, I have made the case that there is a local discourse of blackness in Ingenio that is connected to Latin American discourses of racial difference as well as to diasporic discourses of blackness, yet is unique in the primacy it gives to color as the defining feature of blackness. ...
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In this book, I have explored why generalizations about the black experience in the diaspora, in Latin America, and even in Peru are not always useful for describing blacks in Ingenio. I also have considered why generalizations about racial categorizations and processes of racialization in Latin America have limited utility for the case of Ingenio. ...
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About the Author, Further Reading
Tanya Maria Golash-Boza is assistant professor of sociology and American studies at the University of Kansas. She is the author of Immigration Nation?: Raids, Detentions, and Deportations in Post–9/11 America (Paradigm Publishers, 2010) and has published articles in such journals as Social Forces, Social Problems, Ethnic and Racial Studies, and International Migration Review.
Page Count: 246
Publication Year: 2011