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Social Anthropology

Latin American Antiracism in a ‘Post-Racial’ Age

Project summary

This project, which starts in  January 2107 and runs for two years, aims to investigate anti-racism in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico; to contribute to conceptualising and addressing problems of racism and racial inequality in the region; and to use the Latin America context to provide lessons of wider relevance to anti-racism. We propose that Latin American countries present new opportunities for thinking about anti-racism in the supposedly “post-racial” world of Europe and the United States, where anti-racism has apparently gone into “crisis” and emerged as an often insipid and hard-to-defend multiculturalism. Influential currents in Europe and the United States think that paying attention to race simply exacerbates racism. Meanwhile, racial inequality and racism continue.

We will explore how Latin Americans involved in anti-racism address key problems for anti-racism in Latin America and increasingly for other regions. First, how to practice anti-racism when most people are mixed, may deny the importance of race and racism and may themselves be the victims and the perpetrators of racism. Second, how to practice anti-racism when “culture” seems to be the dominant discourse for talking about difference, but when physical differences remain a powerful but often unacknowledged basis for discrimination. Third, how to create effective anti-racist action when race and class coincide and make it easy to deny that race and racism are important factors. Fourth, how to make sure anti-racist action addresses gender difference effectively. Fifth, how to pursue anti-racism when it is often claimed that little overt racist violence is evidence of racial tolerance.

Our project aims to work with a wide variety of organisations in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico to explore how anti-racism is pursued in state and non-state circles, in legislation and the media, and in a variety of campaigns and projects. We aim to strengthen anti-racist practice in Latin America by feeding back our findings and by helping build networks. We have hired four post-doctoral researchers, who will work in each country supported by a local academic co-investigator.

The project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council of the UK (ref. ES/N012747/1).

The project team

  • Project Director: Dr Mónica Moreno Figueroa, University of Cambridge.  
  • Project Co-director: Prof Peter Wade, University of Manchester.  
  • Research Associate: Dr Krisna Ruette-Orihuela, University of Manchester. Krisna was based at the Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Cientificas. She will be doing fieldwork in Colombia.
  • Research Associate: Dr Luciane Rocha, University of Manchester. Luciane was based at the Universidade Federal de Rio de Janeiro. She will be doing fieldwork in Brazil.
  • Research Associate: Dr Gisela Carlos Fregoso, University of Cambridge. Gisela was at the Universidad Veracruzana.  She will be doing fieldwork in Mexico.
  • Research Associate: Dr María Moreno Parra, University of Cambridge. María was based at Miami University.  She will be doing fieldwork in Ecuador.
  • International Co-investigator for Colombia: Dr. Mara Viveros Vigoya, Universidad National de Colombia. 
  • International Co-investigator for Brazil: Prof Antonio Sérgio Guimarães, CEBRAP (Emeritus of Universidade de São Paulo). 
  • International Co-investigator for Mexico: Dr Juan Carlos Martínez, Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social (CIESAS, Oaxaca branch). 
  • International Co-investigator for Ecuador: Fernando García, Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, FLACSO Ecuador.