Contesting Mestizaje: Exploring the politicization of blackness in Venezuela

Contesting Mestizaje: Exploring the politicization of blackness in Venezuela
13 February 2020, 5.00pm - 6.30pm
Room 944, UCL Institute of Education, Bedford Way, Bloomsbury, WC1H 0AL

Nadia Mosquera, ILAS

From the colonial era to the present day, race has been assembled along class lines in Venezuela’s social structure. However, the number of Venezuelans who identify with unambiguous categories of blackness is low. The reasons for this lie in the ways in which the population reproduces dominant ideologies of race and racial mixture known as mestizaje. This is noteworthy if we consider that Venezuela is said to have the third-largest percentage of Afro-descendants in South America, only superseded by Brazil and Colombia. This seminar will explore how black activists and cultural producers are reaching out to black Venezuelans through a form of oral poetry dated from the 16thcentury known as décima. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in Venezuela’s northern state of Vargas between 2015-16, I will address the ways in which cultural resources such as décimas allow us to broaden mainstream discussions on how Afro-Latin American populations mobilise themselves politically. Using the case of Afro-Venezuelans, I will argue that décimas emerge as sites whereby circulations of ideas of race, nation, racial mixture and gender are discussed before an audience to revalorise blackness whilst challenging manifestations of structural racism.

All are welcome. Attendance is free. Booking is recommended

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Olga Jimenez
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