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Anita González
George O. Jackson
José Manuel Pellicer
Foreword by Ben Vinson
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    While Africans and their descendants have lived in Mexico for centuries, many Afro-Mexicans do not consider themselves to be either black or African. For almost a century, Mexico has promoted an ideal of its citizens as having a combination of indigenous and European ancestry. This obscures the presence of African, Asian, and other populations that have contributed to the growth of the nation. However, performance studies-of dance, music, and theatrical events-reveal the influence of African people and their cultural productions on Mexican society.

    In this work, Anita González articulates African ethnicity and artistry within the broader panorama of Mexican culture by featuring dance events that are performed either by Afro-Mexicans or by other ethnic Mexican groups about Afro-Mexicans. She illustrates how dance reflects upon social histories and relationships and documents how residents of some sectors of Mexico construct their histories through performance. Festival dances and, sometimes, professional staged dances point to a continuing negotiation among Native American, Spanish, African, and other ethnic identities within the evolving nation of Mexico. These performances embody the mobile histories of ethnic encounters because each dance includes a spectrum of characters based upon local situations and historical memories.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-78477-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Ben Vinson III

    The publication ofAfro-Mexico: Dancing between Myth and Realitycomes at an especially important historical moment in the study of peoples of African descent in Latin America, in particular, Mexico. The hemispheric-wide mobilization of social movements for Afro-Latin rights has fostered a political milieu that has created new stakes for scholarship while also opening new angles for study and research. These forces have been admittedly less prominent in Mexico, but still the nation’s conversation on inclusion, antidiscrimination, citizenship, andmestizaje(racial mixture) has been influential in recent years in generating a broader space for the discussion of national blackness. Combined...

  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-17)

    Afro-Mexico: Dancing between Myth and Reality,as the title suggests, is a book about dancing. But more important, it is a book about how dance reflects on social histories and relationships. The photographs and text document how residents of some sectors of Mexico construct their histories through performance. The idea of Afro-Mexico is, in some ways, an enigma. While Africans and their descendants have lived in Mexico for centuries, many Afro-Mexicans do not consider themselves either black or African. Instead, members of this ethnic population blend into the national imagination of Mexico as a mixed-race country. For almost a century...

  6. 1 Framing African Performance in Mexico
    (pp. 18-39)

    Histories of Mexico document complex social negotiations across vast geographic terrains. Nineteenth-century Mexico, for example, included all of the current country as well as wide swaths of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Negotiating human relations within this vast area has challenged governing officials since before the time of the Aztecs. Colonial Spanish viceroyalties managed even larger territories as they attempted to regulate the lifestyles of a population that extended into present-day Central America. This chapter provides a general overview of historical events that afected cultural and social changes within Mexico. The arrival of Hernando Cortés in 1519 initiated a...

  7. 2 Masked Dances Devils and Beasts of the Costa Chica
    (pp. 40-84)

    This chapter describes and illustrates three dances commonly performed in the states of Oaxaca and Guerrero: the Devil Dance, the Turtle Dance, and the Toro de Petate, or Straw Bull Dance. Each of these dances is closely linked to Afro-Mexican communities. There are other Afro-Mexican dances that deserve further study: the Tiger Dance and the Tejorones, for example. My selections are based in part on the photographic and research documentation that was available. Dance practitioners most often describe the three dances listed above, and both Jackson and Pellicer have photographed them. Most important, the Devil Dance, the Turtle Dance, and...

  8. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  9. 3 Archetypes of Race Performance Responses to Afro-Mexican Presence
    (pp. 85-110)

    This chapter looks at racial “types”—blackface characters—that are performed by nonblacks. My discussion is closely linked to representations. Representations, whether they are photographic, theatrical, or multimedia, are never realities but emphasize selected features and storyboard information in selective ways. They merge the creator’s perspective with the subject in ways that are not meant to be real but to reflect the author’s perspective on the subject. The study of representations is always fraught, of course, because the interpretation is also siphoned through the interpreter.

    Gerald Davis writes about the importance of imagistic representation in the edited volume,Public Folklore....

  10. 4 Becoming National Chilena, Artesa, and Jarocho as Folkloric Dances
    (pp. 111-136)

    This chapter looks at folkloric dance forms that emerged from Afro-Mexican communities and then were absorbed into mainstream ideas about regional performance styles. Even as these folkloric dances become nationalized, elements of their performances reference African identities, either through lyrics or aesthetic styles. Two dance styles, the Jarocho of the eastern coast and the Chilena of the western coast, are the focus of my investigation. Both dances at times use a raised wooden platform to capture intricate rhythmic exchanges. The Jarocho and the Chilena represent a sanitized Afro-Mexico. Gone are the frightening masks and the overt sexuality that characterize the...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 137-140)

    Afro-Mexicodocuments African presence in Mexico through performance. I have considered performance as a dialogic, changeable way to express and negotiate black identities. The first chapter highlighted histories that locate Afro-Mexicans within the cultural landscape of Mexico. Afro-Mexicans participated in the process of nation building, and consequently theatre and dance performance supported colonial and/or national activities. Offcial culture began as religious spectacles and later emphasized European and Cuban genres. After the Mexican Revolution, Afro-Mexicans moved toward invisibility when the country embraced a mestizaje that grounded itself in socialism. Today African descendants in Mexico live in relative poverty among their Native...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 141-150)
    (pp. 151-154)
    (pp. 155-160)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 161-164)