- Mestizaje and Globalization: Transformations of Identity and Power ed. by Stefanie Wickstrom, Philip D. Young
Mestizaje and Globalization makes a valuable contribution to the study of Indigenous cultures and racial discourse in the Americas. The volume brings together thirteen essays that, as Stefanie Wickstrom and Philip D. Young write, “examine ways in which economic, social, political, and technological aspects of globalization have influenced the identities of the peoples of the Americas, particularly Indigenous groups, and how they have responded” (4–5). The book is significant for providing a transnational perspective through essays on topics as varied as colonial Mexican art, the Indigenous tradition of La Chaya in Chile, the crafting of Orixá imagery in Brazil, the survival of the Sun Dance among the Cheyenne, strategies for politicizing ethnicity among Indigenous groups in Panama and Ecuador, and Ngäbe women’s responses to globalization, among others.
What holds these heterogeneous and mainly anthropological essays together is a concern with mestizaje, although this concern is more explicit in some essays than others. The term mestizaje has multiple and sometimes incompatible meanings: it can refer to the racial and cultural hybridization that has characterized Latin American nations since the beginnings of European colonization; to the dominant ideology predicated upon the erasure of people of color and maintenance of white dominance that have defined national discourse in countries as diverse [End Page 379] as Ecuador, Mexico, and Panama; and to a liberating discourse and antihegemonic identity formation grounded in racial oppression. The collection is especially noteworthy for including studies on national contexts that are infrequently examined in light of mestizaje and indigeneity such as Argentina and Chile.
Many individual essays provide compelling insights into mestizaje as a racial ideology and its ongoing relevance for racist discourse and de-colonial movements in Latin America and beyond. For example, in her generative contribution Mariella Arredondo argues that the national discourse of mestizaje enables discrimination against Indigenous people by concealing racism as cultural difference in Peru. Arredondo’s study, which is based on interviews conducted with pupils in three elite Arequipa schools, demonstrates that the Peruvian education system reproduces white social dominance. Cultural differences, of course, are also invoked to conceal white supremacist agendas in Europe, the United States, and elsewhere, attesting to the importance of Arredondo’s study beyond the Peruvian context. Comparably, Paulo Dos Santos Vieira’s essay on affirmative action in Brazil illustrates the power that the discourse of racial democracy continues to exercise in the country with the largest population of African descent outside of the African continent. The author reminds us that racial mixing does not signal racial harmony but is the expression of a history of enslavement and ongoing racial inequality. As the myth that miscegenation can resolve racism persists in transnational scholarship, Dos Santos Vieira’s contribution is crucial also for understanding racial dynamics outside Brazil.
Demonstrating that state and ngo discourses and institutions in Peru reproduce racial marginalization, Jorge Logoas and Fabrizio Arenas Barchi’s essay provides important insights into both mestizaje and neo-liberal globalization. The authors show that modernization projects in Peru perpetuate de-Indigenization, as they are predicated upon a forcible and unattainable assimilation. In this way, neoliberalism supports the eradication of people of color’s ways of life in Peru and elsewhere. Sabine Kradolfer’s compelling essay comparably examines the entanglement between globalization, Indigenous subjectivity, and national discourse in Argentina. Unlike in countries such as Cuba and Mexico, Argentina’s national identity has been constructed as European rather than as racially mixed. As she illustrates a long history of Indigenous resistance that continues today, Kradolfer shows that Indigenous people [End Page 380] have been subjected to an invisibilization process in Argentina so that the Mapuche are viewed not as people with a rich history but merely as an exploitable labor force. John Stolle-McAllister’s contribution similarly engages Indigenous resistance, but in Ecuador. The author shows that many white and mestizo Ecuadorans view Indigenous peoples as “folkloric relics of the past” (234) because of the official...