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'The Beautiful Faces of My Black People�: Mestizaje, Black Consciousness and the Politics of the Census in Colombia

Date and Time

Monday, April 8, 2013
3:00 PM - 4:30 PM


  • Kirkhof Center » RM 2215/2216


Prof. Tianna Paschel
Neubauer Family Assistant Professor
University of Chicago
Department of Political Science
The recent multicultural turn in Latin America has made the census a key site of struggle for both recognition and resources. This paper examines the politics around Colombia’s 2005 census, where black political organizations launched the Beautiful Faces of My Black People campaign. Drawing on document analysis and ethnographic methods I argue that Afro-Colombian organizations were successful in pressuring the state to move beyond the purely cultural notions of blackness institutionalized in state policies in the 1990s toward a broader ethno-racial Afro-Colombian category in the 2005 Census. However, their success required them to grapple with competing definitions of blackness within the movement itself. This case suggests that while black movements in Latin America face challenges such as internal fragmentation and collective identity problems, they have been important actors in shaping how the state institutionalizes racial categories. This has implications for state policies as well as racial identities on the ground.


Joel Stillerman,, x1-3129



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