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NO101 October 17.docx

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Department
North American Studies
Course
NO101
Professor
Bina Mehta
Semester
Fall

Description
NO101 October 17, 2012 The Cosmic Race- Questions of Identity in Mexico Jose Vasconcelos (1882- 1959) • Influential Mexican intellectual who spent his childhood on the US-Mexican border. • He grew up suspicious of Americans and critical of their pragmatism, arrogance and aggressivity. • Saw mestizaje in positive terms La Raza Cosmica • ‘Our civilization may be the chosen one to assimilate and transform mankind into a new type’ • The Latin peoples are the one called upon to consummate this mission (gather all the treasures of History in order to give expression to universal desire) • ‘The mixture of races has taken place… ’ • Vasconcelos is putting a positive spin on the reality of Mexican history. • La raza translates into English most closely as “the people,” or, according to some scholars, “the Latino people of the New World.” • Some people have mistranslated “La Raza” to mean “The Race,” implying that it is a term meant to exclude others. In fact, the term, meaning the “cosmic people,” was developed to reflect not purity but the mixture inherent in the Latino people. La Raza Today • This is an inclusive concept, meaning that Latinos share with all other peoples of the world a common heritage and destiny. • La raza cósmica has been used by Chicano and Mexican-American movements since the 1970s, claiming for the establishment of a new culture in the American Southwest, based on their Mexican ancestry. Dia de la Raza • In Mexico, October 12th is a national holiday known as Día de la Raza or Day of the Race. The Sons of La Malinche • Octavio Paz (1914-1998), Nobel Prize winning author • Life in Mexico is a social combat between the weak and the strong. • Paz deplores the influence this has on political culture: worship of the strong (chigones), devotion to personalities and not to principles. La Malinche • La Malinche (c.1496 – c.1529), known also as Malintzin and Doña Marina, was an Indigenous woman (almost certainly Nahua) from the Mexican Gulf Coast, who accompanied Hernán Cortés and played an active and powerful role in the Spanish conquest of Mexico, acting as interpreter, advisor and intermediary. • She was also a mistress to Cortés and bore him a son, who is considered one of the first Mestizos. Octavio Paz • Labyrinth of Solitude – deep-seated conflict related to mestizaje is at the base of the Mexican national character • Act of violence – Spanish rape of indigenous women. • Mexicans are descendants of an act of violence • ‘Cortes/Malinche – symbols of a secret conflict that has not been resolved. ‘The Mexican does not want to be either Indian or Spanish. He denies them; neither does he affirm himself as a mixture’(76). • Stereotype of the Mexican male – macho exterior that masks an inferiority complex; Mexican female is long-suffering. Traitor of Saviour? • The word malinchismo is used by modern-day Mexicans to identify countrymen who betray their race and country; those who mix their blood and culture with European or other outside influences. • Many historians believe that La Malinche saved her people: that without someone who was not only a fluent translator but who also advised both sides of the negotiations, the Spanish would have been far more violent and destructive in their conquest. • Orozco’s La Malinche La Malinche • Figure associated with the Conquest (which was a violation) • The Mexican people have not forgiven La Malinche for her betrayal. • Repudiating la Malinche means breaking with the past, renouncing one’s origins, living in isolation and solitude. Mexico Profundo: Mesoamerican Culture • The two civilizations in Mexican culture (Indian/Spanish-Hispanic) have never coexisted in harmony. • The colonial enterprise engaged in destroying mesoamerican civilization and stopped only where self- interest intervened. • The minority have marginalized the majority; the old colonial blindness remains. • How did last week’s film – A Place Called Chiapas illustrate this point? The Melting Pot- Cultural Identity in the USA The Melting Pot • Beginning of the century, a Jewish immigrant from England, Israel Zangwill, wrote a play called the “Melting Pot”. • Message: that all immigrants can be transformed into Americans • Democracy, freedom and civic responsibility Second Major Immigration Wave: E Pluribus (From Many, One) • Turn of the century • Immigrants came from Ireland, Germany, Italy, Eastern Europe. • 18 million between 1890 and 1920. • Ellis Island • Photos Ellis Island Second Wave Immigration • So-called New immigration was a term from the late 1880s that came from the influx of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe. • Before the “flood” which occurred in the 1870s was a period called “old” immigration. Old immigrants were mostly from Western Europe, especially Britain, Germany, Ireland and Scandinavia. • Since most of them, with the exception of the Irish, had Anglo-Saxon and Protestant backgrounds, they were quickly incorporated into American society, welcomed into the "asylum of liberty." • The Irish during first wave – triggered reaction of « nativism ». • So-called New immigration was a term from the late 1880s that came from the influx of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe. • Before the “flood” which occurred in the 1870s was a period called “old” immigration. Old immigrants were mostly from Western Europe, especially Britain, Germany, Ireland and Scandinavia. • Since most of them, with the exception of the Irish, had Anglo-Saxon and Protestant backgrounds, they were quickly incorporated into American society, welcomed into the "asylum of liberty." • The Irish during first wave – triggered reaction of « nativism ». • Americans’ preference for old immigration rather than new immigration reflected a sudden rise in conservatism. Immigration, although always being a part of American culture, swelled during the 19th century, coinciding with the rise of urban America. • The so-called “new immigrants” came to the new urban America, where disease, overcrowding and crime festered. Reaction to This Wave • This wave did not go unchallenged.
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