Alexandria Digital Research Library

The (Re)construction of Blackness in Costa Chica, Oaxaca: NGOs and the Making of an Afro-Mexican Ethnic Group

Gonzalez Estrella, Jorge
Degree Grantor:
University of California, Santa Barbara. Latin American and Iberian Studies
Degree Supervisor:
Casey Walsh
Place of Publication:
[Santa Barbara, Calif.]
University of California, Santa Barbara
Creation Date:
Issued Date:
Anthropology, Cultural, Black Studies, and Latin American Studies
Costa Chica
Online resources and Dissertations, Academic
M.A.--University of California, Santa Barbara, 2012

Afro-Mexicans in Costa Chica, Oaxaca to date do not identify with the aforementioned label but rather as Mexicans, Costen s, Moren s, Negr s. In 1998, however, Oaxaca became the first state to "recognize" and ascribe them under that ethnic label; thus, placing their collective rights under Indigenous laws. Though, no official headcount statistics or adequate public policies exist for the estimated 15,000 Afro-Mexicans. According to government studies, Afro-Mexicans have an ethnic deficit based on their lack of cultural characteristics that differentiate them from mestizos-costenos. As part of negotiating this matter, by 2004, the black civil association AFRICA invented a tradition of Afro-Mexican Queen Pageants (AMQPs hereafter) called "La Reyna Afromestiza" (The Afromestiza Queen). Four years later, in April of 2008, the image of the 1st crowned queen was then chosen for the cover of the 1st Oaxacan government journal dedicated to the Afro-Mexican population. These examples in turn raise the following questions: 1) What are the missing "ethnic" characteristics that disqualify Afro-Mexicans as an ethnic group? 2) How are AMQPs mirroring internal and external politics of representation? 3) To what extent are the state and civil associations (NGOs) transforming the meaning and contours of blackness in Oaxaca?

Beginning with the birth of the Afromestizo project in 1950 to what followed after the birth of the black social movement in 1997, this investigation will examine the difficulties of ethnicizing blackness in Costa Chica, Oaxaca. By first offering a social-historical background of the region as well as highlighting the inter-ethnicity of Afro-Mexicans I draw attention to the interplay of ethnic-racial politics. More specifically, this study analyzes how AFRICA has, since 2007, steered the strategies of the movement in order to construct collective black political consciousness. In the process, I address how this organization has manipulated the media and public festivities---in their community and beyond---to give visibility and challenge Oaxaca's models of multicultural and pluriethnic policies. Using an interdisciplinary approach, I argue that AMQPs are a fine example of how AFRICA manipulates the performance and aesthetics of public space to construct black ethnic consciousness within costeno culture. In addition, I explain how they serve as ideal platforms to reclaim Mexican citizenship. Overall, this study will explore questions of ethnicity, race, memory, ritual and cultural-reinvention.

Physical Description:
1 online resource (132 pages)
UCSB electronic theses and dissertations
Catalog System Number:
Inc.icon only.dark In Copyright
Copyright Holder:
Jorge Gonzalez
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