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Constructing the Mexican White Mestizo Identity: Politics of Race, Culture, and Mexican Comics in Twentieth Century Mexico


This thesis examines how white Mexican elites constructed the image of the white mestizo through the popular Mexican comic book, Kalimán, el Hombre Increíble. Given the extensive comic book collection, this thesis focuses on one adventure titled: El Regreso de la Araña Negra, printed in 1971. Kalimán, a tall, white, and blue-eyed oriental superhero, has occupied a fixed place in the collective imagination of the Mexican and Latin American public since the 1960s. Despite Kalimán's alleged oriental origin, his whiteness—in both skin and costume—is displaced. Navarro and Vázquez created an oriental character that could look white but not be perceived as white. This is possible because Kalimán’s whiteness becomes displaced within a 20th-century Mexican understanding of mestizaje. As a national ideology, mestizaje served as a powerful framework for Mexicans to think through discourses of race and culture This thesis will show how Kalimán’s Orientalized whiteness operates within the context of the mestizo myth and acts as a proxy to creating the image of the white mestizo not rooted in Mexican indigeneity. The character of Kalimán offers a unique vantage point into how Mexican elites neatly packaged ideas of gender, whiteness, racial alterity in an entertaining and consumable format, all while validating racial hierarchies.

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