Roosbelinda Cárdenas González
University of California, Santa Cruz, USA


This article traces a genealogy of the concept of blackness in Latin America by reviewing historical and anthropological literature that, though not always centrally concerned with the production of blackness, nonetheless reveals how ideas about blackness have traveled across time and space. I begin in the colonial period in order to give due attention to the fierce battles to define and unsettle the category of the African slave. Then, I look at various incarnations of Latin American nationalisms—whitening, mestizaje, and multiculturalism—in order to evince how nation-making projects have produced changing definitions of blackness. Finally, I break loose from the nationalist bind to consider diasporic forms of blackness. While producing somewhat of a chronological narrative, I consider a variety of categories—labor, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and nation—which have at times been more or less salient in defining the category of difference that I refer to as blackness.

Keywords: blackness, Latin America, nation-making, African Diaspora.