Everyday Visibility: Race, Migration, and National Identity in Santiago, Chile
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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EmbargoRelease after 01-Aug-2024
AbstractOver the last two decades, migration to Chile has increased dramatically. This "new migration" (Martínez 2003) marks a demographic shift away from largely Europeans and Argentineans to the current arrival of migrants from Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia. As in other Latin American nations, previous migratory waves to Chile were often associated with racial improvement via blanquemiento, or whitening, a deliberate move away from bodily, material, and cultural markers of indigeneity. While Chile and these neighboring countries share a common language, history of Spanish colonization, dominant religion, and some cultural traditions, the current arrival of Latin American migrants has prompted emphatic delineation of racial difference. In analyzing current discourses addressing migration, I argue that the new Latin American migratory flow is always understood in the context of historic migrations from Europe. As Latin American migrants settle in Chile, racialization - the practice of making racial distinctions and pairing these distinctions with an accompanying racial hierarchy - profoundly shapes migrant experiences. I argue that migrant racialization emphasizes both the creation of racial others as well as the assertion of a Chilean national sameness. Indeed, this new migratory flow prompts the construction, contestation, and negotiation of Chile's own national racial identity - one that is produced in constant awareness of global racial understandings. My research extends work on migrant racialization by exploring the recurring tension between racial distinction and national self-presentation through three examples: understandings and experiences of migrant domestic labor, migrant use of public space, and the consumption of Peruvian food. Throughout these examples, I chart the ongoing production of migrant visibility and how the discourses, practices, and processes involved illustrate the shifting terrain of Chilean racial understandings.
Degree ProgramGraduate College