In Black and Brown: Intellectuals, Blackness, and Inter-Americanism in Mexico after 1910
Vaughan, Mary Kay
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"In Black and Brown" examines how blackness and Africanness became constituent elements of Mexican culture after the Revolution of 1910. In refuting the common claim that black cultures and identities were erased or ignored in the post-revolutionary era, it argues that anthropologists, historians, (ethno)musicologists, and local intellectuals integrated black and, after 1940, African-descended peoples and cultures into a democratic concept of national identity. Although multiple historical actors contributed to this nationalist project, three intellectuals--composer and ethnomusicologist Gerónimo Baqueiro Foster (1898-1967), anthropologist Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán (1908-1996), and city of Veracruz poet Francisco Rivera (1908-1994)--most coherently identified Africanness in Mexican history and culture. As these state and local intellectuals read ethnographic texts about African cultural retentions throughout the Western Hemisphere, they situated these cultural practices in specific Mexican communities and regional spaces. By tracing the inter-American networks that shaped these identities, "In Black and Brown" asserts that the classification of blackness and Africanness as Mexican was in conversation with the refashioning of blackness, Africanness, and indigeneity across the Americas and was part of the construction of the Western Hemisphere as a historical, cultural, and racial entity. More broadly, it questions the commonplace assumption that certain nations of the Americas are part of the African Diaspora while others are defined as indigenous.