Anthony Russell JerryJul 26, 2023
Blackness in Mexico
Afro-Mexican Recognition and the Production of Citizenship in the Costa Chica
University Press of Florida 2023
Through historical and ethnographic research, Blackness in Mexico: Afro-Mexican Recognition and the Production of Citizenship in the Costa Chica (UP of Florida, 2023) delves into the ongoing movement toward recognizing Black Mexicans as a cultural group within a nation that has long viewed the non-Black mestizo as the archetypal citizen. Anthony Jerry focuses on this process in Mexico's Costa Chica region in order to explore the relational aspects of citizenship and the place of Black people in how modern citizenship is imagined. Jerry's study of the Costa Chica shows the political stakes of the national project for Black recognition; the shared but competing interests of the Mexican government, activists, and townspeople; and the ways that the state and NGOs are working to make "Afro-Mexican" an official cultural category.
He argues that that the demand for recognition by Black communities calls attention to how the mestizo has become an intuitive point of reference for identifying who qualifies as "other." Jerry also demonstrates that while official recognition can potentially empower African descendants, it can simultaneously reproduce the same logics of difference that have brought about their social and political exclusion. One of few books to center Blackness within a discussion of Mexico or to incorporate a focus on Mexico into Black studies, this book ultimately argues that the official project for recognition is itself a methodology of mestizaje, an opportunity for the government to continue to use Blackness to define the national subject and to further the Mexican national project.
Anthony Russell Jerry is Assistant Professor of anthropology at the University of California, Riverside.
Reighan Gillam is an Associate Professor in the Department of Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies at Dartmouth College. Her research examines the ways in which Afro-Brazilian media producers foment anti-racist visual politics through their image creation. She is the author of Visualizing Black Lives: Ownership and Control in Afro-Brazilian Media (University of Illinois Press).