Despite recent efforts from scholars, activists, and associations to rethink Afro-Mexican identities and recover their histories, it is still common to hear among non-specialists statements such as “there are no blacks in Mexico,” or even “there were no blacks in Mexico.” Under this light it is worth asking: how did we get to this situation? How did people who during the colonial period used Spanish-language social classifications such as negro, mulato, morisco, or lobo stopped using such designations? How and why did people substitute these adscriptions for a homogenous label of “citizens” at the end of the colonial period? And what was the relationship between this process and the elision of Afro-Mexicans from the historical imaginary of the nation over time? Using the case of Afro-Mexicans from Guadalajara between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, this study tries to answer these questions. It demonstrates that Afro-Mexicans strategically appropriated Spanish terminology about human difference, used it in creative ways to carve a social space for themselves, and ultimately dismissed it before independence in the midst of emerging political opportunities.
Speaker: Jorge E. Delgadillo Núñez is Chancellor’s Advance Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of History at UC-Irvine. His research has been published in English and Spanish by The Americas, El Colegio de México, and the University of Guadalajara. He earned his PhD in History from Vanderbilt University (2021).
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