Blacks, Black Indians, Afromexicans: the Dynamics of Race, Nation, and Identity in a Mexican Moreno Community (Guerrero)

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Abstract

In this article, I explore identity formation in Mexico from the perspective of residents of San Nicolas Tolentino, a village located on the Costa Chica, a historically black region of the southern Pacific Coast of Guerrero. Outsiders characterize San Nicolas's residents as black, but in Mexico, national ideologies, anthropologies, and histories have traditionally worked to exclude or ignore blackness. Instead, the Spanish and Indian mestizo has been constituted as the quintessential Mexican, even as the Mexican past is tied to a romanticized and ideologically powerful Indian foundation. Ethnographic evidence suggests that San Nicolas's "black" residents in fact see themselves as morenos, a term that signifies their common descent with Indians, whom they consider to be central to Mexicanness. As morenos interweave their identities, experiences, and descent with Indians, they also anchor themselves through Indians to the nation. These identity issues are complicated by the recent introduction to the coast of Africanness in the context of new national and scholarly projects reformulating the components of a new Mexican multicultural identity. In part, local morenos see Africanness as an outside imposition that conflicts with their sense of themselves as Mexican while it reinforces their political and economic marginality. [Mexico, Guerrero, blackness, race, identity, ethnicity, nationalism]

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