Authored by: Rafael Pérez-Torres

The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature

Print publication date:  August  2012
Online publication date:  October  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415666060
eBook ISBN: 9780203097199
Adobe ISBN: 9781136221613


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Mestizaje is a term that means racial mixture. It originates in racist colonial hierarchies that sought to demarcate clear racial boundaries and differences. In the modern period, Latino/a cultural and literary discussions have used the word to connote more varied and richer meanings. It suggests the productive mixing that characterizes the formation of US Latino/a culture. Mestizaje is an affirmative recognition of the mixed racial, social, linguistic, national, cultural, and ethnic legacies inherent to Latino/a cultures and identities. It highlights the idea that cultural mixture represents a dynamic, driving component of Latino/a literature. At the same time, the colonial history implicit in the idea of mestizaje evokes the very real constraints imposed upon mestizo bodies, not the least of which are the racial hierarchies generated during colonialism and passed down a legacy of discrimination and violence.

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