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From Whiteness to Diversity: Crossing the Racial Threshold in Bicentennial Argentina--A Lecture by Teresa Ko

Thursday, April 14, 2011
12:00 AM
Room G437 Mason Hall

Argentina, whose capital is commonly dubbed the Paris of Latin America, constructed a national identity based on whiteness and set itself apart from its “dark-skinned” neighbors. The idea that Argentines were essentially white Europeans went mostly unquestioned throughout the twentieth century. In recent years, however, a radically different thinking about its national race has emerged. Efforts to contest former discourses of homogeneity were most heightened during last year’s bicentennial celebrations in which Argentina was officially declared a “pluricultural” nation. This talk examines why institutional and non-institutional interests in diversity have emerged with such intensity in the last ten years. It also attempts to understand how race and racial meanings are produced in the newly “diverse” Argentina by analyzing cultural manifestations involving Japanese Argentines--a group that has been excluded from both discourses of whiteness and diversity--such as the performance of Masako Justa Itoh, a Japanese Argentine comedian, and the political claims-making of the Japanese Argentine dry cleaners in Buenos Aires.