Afro Latino Social Movements Conference

Event information
Venue:FIU Modesto A. Maidique Campus, GC Ballroom

For the conference program and abstracts, click here.

For information about hotel, transportation and parking, please scroll to the bottom of the page.

Afro Latino Social Movements From “Monocultural Mestizaje” and “Invisibility” to Multiculturalism and State Corporatism/Cooptation

Movimientos Sociales Afro Latinos Desde "Mestizaje Mono-cultural" e "Invisibilidad" al Multiculturalismo y Corporativismo/Cooptación de Estado

There will be simultaneous translation from Spanish/Portuguese/English to Spanish/English.

This conference aims to explore the transformations of the political landscapes within which Afro Latino social movements have been operating since the end of the 1970s. It is premised on the assertion that, distinctively in different national contexts, the major characteristic of these transformations is the passage from “monocultural mestizaje” and “invisibilization” of Afro Latinos organized by the State and other social actors to multiculturalism and State corporatism (or State cooptation, as some prefer to call it). A special emphasis will be placed on the consequences of State corporatism on Afro Latino social movements.

In the 1970s and 1980s, activists and scholars alike wrote a great deal about the processes of “invisibilization” of Afro Latinos, along with Indigenous peoples, in a great many Latin American national contexts. Official versions of history failed to mention black populations’ participation in, and contributions to, the Nation. Critical scholars denounced the fact that many Latin American academic traditions reproduced national processes of invisibilization Afro Latino populations. At the end of the 1970s and early 1980s, new Afro Latino organizations developed in accordance with the specificity of their national contexts and with the eventual support of other national, regional, and transnational organizations. They often clashed against the mis-recognizing state and demanded full recognition as citizens.

Some scholars have called the period from the 1920s to the end of the 1980s the Latin American ideological period of “monocultural mestizaje.” At the time, in a continental wave going from Mexico and including the Caribbean, to the southern extremity of Argentina, national white and white-mestizo elites imagined and elaborated national identities in terms of mestizaje or, in the case of Argentina, as directly opposed to it. In many cases, unlike Brazil and Cuba, which all point to the polysemic nature of “ideological mestizaje,” blacks were not part of official mestizaje, which included exclusively the mixing of European and Native American ancestry. In those cases, blacks were seen as existing off to one side: they did not constitute “an ingredient” in what has sometimes been called “the ideological biologies of national identity.”

That premise of exclusion has very much been shaping up the daily experiences of Afro Latino peoples, wherever they live. With the political effervescence of the early 1990s that accompanied the transnational indigenous movement’s preparation of “500 Years of Resistance,” a counter celebration of 1992 that was referred to in official presentations as “the anniversary of 500 years of Discovery,” black organizations became more visible. Some made alliances with indigenous organizations, while others entered in traditional politics, investing in political parties on the left. The publication in 1995 of the Minority Rights Group’s famous book, No Longer Invisible: Afro-Latin Americans Today, was a direct testimony of this growing reality. In the last two decades, following the adoption of “multicultural” policies specifically targeting Indigenous and African diasporic populations by institutions of international development and global governance, and also as a result of the political activism of Indigenous and African diasporic communities, many Latin American nation-states revised their Constitutions and sometimes passed special laws that express a concern for greater inclusion of African diasporic and Indigenous populations. This is a context in which Latin American African diasporic populations gained relatively greater agency in comparison to the marked exclusion that characterized their situation during monocultural mestizaje.

Since the late 2000s and early 2010s, a new reality of Afro Latino participation at the higher echelons of state institutions has emerged. New Constitutions finally acknowledge Afro Latinos’ existence and declare the nation-state to be diverse and multicultural. Constitutions and new special laws give Afro Latinos collective rights and some protection against racist crimes. Political reforms created new state agencies that have as their objective the management of state funds and other resources for Afro Latino communities. Leadership of such agencies is given to Afro Latino community leaders, who are chosen by the political group(s) in government. In addition, new electoral laws have created districts with exclusively ethnically based representation, and have sent some Afro Latino leaders to national Congress. Other leaders have been chosen for upper level positions of leadership in the governments’ administrations. This points to the Latin American tradition of state corporatism, which has consisted in the populist and corporatist incorporation of the popular sectors into the State, in structures that organize the relation between civil society and the State. In that way, the State co-opts or re-creates interest groups with the intent to regulate their numbers and to give them the appearance of having a quasi-representational monopoly with special prerogatives. In exchange for these prerogatives and monopolies, the State demands the right to monitor the groups represented. This is how special State agencies were specifically created to deal with Afro Latino populations in the new multiculturalist States.

This conference will provide a space wherein participants will contribute to an interrogation of the current situations involving State corporatism of Afro Latino social movements. The papers presented will explore the recent history of Afro Latino social movements and interrogate current formations that have been functioning from within States’ institutions and institutionality, while also operating within transnational networks of cultural politics. The following non-exhaustive list presents questions the conference might explore: What is the history of the relation, in a given national context, between the State and Afro Latino social movements? What are the direct consequences of State corporatism on Afro Latino social movements? If fragmentation is occurring, what are the organizing principles of that fragmentation? Are the notions of “leadership” and “leader” under discussion and redefinition? How did State corporatism influence or change the internal political landscape of Afro Latino social movements? How did it impact their political strategies in national politics? How is State corporatism impacting the relations between Afro Latino social movements and Indigenous organizations? Did State corporatism facilitate transnational connections, and how? Is State corporatism having an impact on gender relations within the movements? How are contemporary Afro Latino social movements dealing with the notions of modernity and traditions? Is the current State corporatism of Afro Latinos pushing the boundaries of Diaspora theorizing? If so, how?

Organized by FIU's African & African Diaspora Studies Program (AADS), co-sponsored by the Latin American & Caribbean Center (LACC), the Department of Global & Sociocultural Studies, The AADS Graduate Student Association, and FIU's Council for Student Organizations.

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If you need transportation from the Sofitel Hotel to the conference at FIU,

please contact Rosa Henríquez at (305) 348-4264

Hotel Information

To make hotel reservations, please contact Lanette Torres at (305) 503-8311

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