From Degeneration to Whitening: Farmers, Farriers, and the Folkbiology of Race
Tue, January 24, 2012 • 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM • BEN 2.104
Lecture by professor Ruth Hill (University of Virginia-Charlottesville)
A vibrant critical paradigm within Hispanism was established by Ángel Rama’s La ciudad letrada, which employed Foucault’s epistemological model to argue that colonial and republican urban elites in Latin America had constructed knowledge (and later national identities) in the cities, rejecting and disenfranchising the countryside as primitive, even feral. Situated within a cognitive-anthropological framework, this lecture aims to complicate that paradigm by revealing the folk dimensions of caste and racial categories used by colonial letrados. Selected whitening (blanqueamiento) equations from late-colonial Latin America and the early republican United States will be reinscribed within the analogical thinking processes associated with folkbiology and pre-19th-century horsebreeding and sheepbreeding in order to suggest that the city-country divide be approached as a dotted line, and that the animal-human divide associated with Western modernity be reframed as an animal/human/plant continuum.
This lecture is part of our Colonial Lecture Series 2011-2012.