Condemning Mestizaje: Spatial Segregation and the Racialization of Sex in Colonial Latin America
AuthorRosenthal, Olimpia Eurydice
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe central objective of this project is to chart the relationship between early-modern notions of race that developed in the Iberian-Atlantic world and systems of colonial racialization that emerged in the Americas in relation to mestizaje. By analyzing three case-studies from Latin American's early-colonial period, I show that as anxieties about racial mixture got intertwined with the Iberian notion of purity of blood, spatial segregation and the curtailment of interracial sex became two of the main issues around which early-colonial discourses on mestizaje were articulated. In chapter one, I justify the use of the term race for analyzing this period by drawing from current scholarship whose aim is to historicize this notion as a means to better theorize it. Moreover, I explain the specific elements that inform the theory of race that I develop throughout this project, including Bernasconi's formulation of race as a border concept, JanMohamed's notion of racialized sexuality, and Foucault's account of how biopower can help us theorize the interconnections between race and reproductive sex. In the second chapter, I examine Vasco de Quiroga's decisive influence in the formation of the Dual Republic model of spatial segregation in Mexico, and I show how the racialization of space during this period led to a dualistic conception of society that by definition left no place for the liminal figure of the mestizo. In chapter three, I examine a policy adapted by the Portuguese Crown during the sixteenth century whereby white Portuguese women were taken to Brazil in an effort to reduce interracial sex and miscegenation. Lastly, in chapter four I analyze Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala's abject characterization of mestizos in Peru, and I demonstrate that two of the key issues around which he organized his demand for colonial reforms were spatial segregation and the curtailment of interracial sex. By examining these three cases-studies comparatively, and further incorporating a transatlantic perspective that situates them within broader developments that were taking place during the early-modern period, I emphasize the importance that the study of colonial Latin America has for current efforts to historicize the notion of race.
Degree ProgramGraduate College