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Black Mexico’s Sites of Struggles across Borders: The Problem of the Color Line

  • Author(s): Bermudez-Castro, Christian Yanai
  • Advisor(s): Calderon, Hector
  • et al.
Abstract

This dissertation studies the socio-cultural connections of the United States and Mexico’s Pan-African selected twentieth- and twenty-first century sites of struggle through literature, film, and music. Novels and movies such as La negra Angustias (1948/1950), Imitation of Life (1933/1959), Angelitos negros (1948/1970), Como agua para chocolate saga (1989, 2016, 2017), and film (1992), as well as music of racial activism by Mexican and Afro-Latino artists such as Negro Jos� and Afro-Chicano band Third Root, are all key elements of my project to study the formation and understanding what of Mexico’s Tercera Ra�z entails historically, politically, and culturally.

I focus my study on the development of black racial consciousness in twentieth-century Mexican cultural life, and I consequently explore the manner in which Mexican writers, filmmakers and artists have managed the relationship between Afro-Mexicans and majority populations of white and mestizo Mexicans, as well as the racial bridge existent between the United States’ black history, and Mexico’s Third Root. After the realization that there are Mexican oeuvres (filmic and literary) with racial overtones have been inspired by works of American and/or African American authors, who approach racial consciousness in a completely different manner, I take into consideration such cultural philosophies and apply them to the Mexican context. With this said, a great part of my project on blackness in Mexico is based on African-American intellectuals that, due to the lack of black studies in Mexico, shed light on new ways of uncovering the racial consciousness of Mexican mestizos and Afro-Mexicans.

To understand the cultural enigma of the Afro-Mexican, my project explores some of the following inquiries: the ideology of mestizaje directed towards the Spaniard-Indigenous binary; the representation of Afro-Mexican women treated in literature and film; mutual influences of the United States and Mexico through visual media and music to expose topics on blackness; the absence of official black intellectuals, centers of research, and curricula in universities in Mexico; and lastly, the benefit of drawing on foreign ideologies of blackness to explain Mexico’s tripartite racial origins.

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