By approaching race through antiracism, this exemplar of teamwork in social research charts a major innovation in thinking about race in Latin America and beyond. Interweaving themes, cases, and countries, race appears in social activism even when it is not named, and even when it is named it may not be the only factor building support and strategy.
Powerful narratives often describe Latin American nations as fundamentally mestizo. These narratives have hampered the acknowledgment of racism in the region, but recent multiculturalist reforms have increased recognition of Black and Indigenous identities and cultures. Multiculturalism may focus on identity and visibility and address more casual and social forms of racism, but can also distract attention from structural racism and racialized inequality, and constrain larger antiracist initiatives. Additionally, multiple understandings of how racism and antiracism fit into projects of social transformation make racism a complex and multifaceted issue. The essays in Against Racism examine actors in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Mexico that move beyond recognition politics to address structural inequalities and material conflicts and build common ground with other marginalized groups. The organizations in this study advocate an approach to deep social structural transformation that is inclusive, fosters alliances, and is inspired by a radical imagination.
The book does provide a rich picture of the diversity of actions and organizations in the region, but it does much more than that: it opens a number of thorny questions about the potential and shortcomings of different grammars of antiracism in Latin American societies and beyond. One of the merits of Against Racism is that it brings together topics and questions rarely discussed jointly. Empirically, it analyses indigenous and black antiracist organizations, showing how they have common goals even if mobilizing distinct repertoires of action.
This far-ranging volume, the product of a deep and expansive collaboration among scholars based in Latin America and the global North, with different racial identifications, and belonging to different generations . . . forces us to confront complex questions with no easy answers and will have a significant impact on how race, racism, and antiracist movements are studied, not only in Latin America but also in other parts of the world.
With great prescience and precision, this book captures the emerging moment in Latin America, when multifaceted antiracist organizing has come to the fore. The project’s ambitious scope and collective character—four countries, more than a dozen researchers—uncovers a central analytical challenge, which opens onto the book’s central contribution. . . . The authors offer a salutary reminder of the topic’s immense complexity, yet always guided by the drive to imagine and work toward societies—to evoke Stuart Hall’s memorable phrase—no longer structured in racial dominance.
Monica Moreno Figueroa is associate professor in sociology at the University of Cambridge and a fellow in social sciences at Downing College, Cambridge. Her research focuses on the lived experience of race and racism; the interconnections between feminist theory and critical race theory; and visual methodologies and applied research collaborations.
Peter Wade is a professor of social anthropology at the University of Manchester who has worked on issues of racial, ethnic, and national identities in Latin America, particularly Colombia. Recently he has researched the construction of nature, biology, genetics, and culture in ideas about race. Currently he directs a project on cultures of antiracism in Latin America.