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The University of Southampton
Modern Languages and LinguisticsPart of Humanities

Racism, privilege and whiteness in Mexico Seminar

17:00 - 18:30
2 March 2016
Lecture Theatre C Avenue Campus University of Southampton SO17 1BF

Event details

Part of the annual seminar series for the Centre for Mexico-Southampton Collaboration (MeXsu).

Recognising racism in a context such as Mexico involves bringing the unrecognizable into the boundaries of recognition: Mexican practices of racism are currently unrecognizable. Drawing from empirical research on contemporary practices of racism and understandings of mestizaje (racial mixing), this paper explore current dilemmas around racial recognition. Mexicans do not recognise themselves as racial subjects, but as national subjects. In this context, recognition of racism is not preceded by the explicit claim of belonging to the specific mestiza, indigenous, black or other racial identity. Recognition and belonging are not two sides of the same coin. Furthermore, what is at stake in the Mexican case is not whether people recognise themselves as, say, mestizos, and then act on this in pursuing a series of rights, but that they are able to understand the racialised and racialising aspects of everyday life and demand making these explicit and visible, denouncing, preventing and sanctioning racism. In this paper, I explore why it is difficult for Mexicans to identify as racialised subjects, and argue that due to its fluid and relational character, taking on mestiza identity is a precarious and painful process that carries with it a set of contradictory forces. On the one hand, as an identity akin to ‘whiteness’, the space of the mestiza becomes the unnamed, invisible, national privileged paradigm. On the other, mestizaje disorients any clear sense of coherence between a racial discourse and a discriminatory practice. Mexican everyday life is organised around what I have called 'mestizaje logics', which legitimate and normalise racism while detaching such practices from their histories and processes of formation. I conclude by discussing the implications of bringing racism to the fore and recognising its practice in everyday life.

Speaker information

Dr. Mónica Moreno Figueroa, University of Cambridge. Mónica Moreno Figueroa is Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow at Downing College, Cambridge. Her research has primarily developed around three areas: the lived experience of ‘race’ and racism; feminist theory and the interconnections between beauty, emotions and racism; visual methodologies and applied research collaborations.

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