Friday, June 26, 2009

"white" man/woman

Guate - canche
Panama - fulo/fula

CR - macho (macha para mujeres?!)

Nica/El Salvador - chele/ chele
Mexico - güero/güera

Colombia - mono/ mona


I am looking for anything written about how whiteness works in Latin America and would very much appreciate references. What strikes me is that rather than being unmarked/invisible as it is in North America, it is instead hypervisible and regularly remarked upon. Surely folks must have written about this? I haven't had much luck finding it, other than one article about the use of whitening creams in Mexico. Of course white privilege works differently in Latin America and I'm especially interested in anything written about that. Not only do 'monas' like me get this privilege, but lighter skinned mestizos do too - though this seems rarely talked about or acknowledged.

15 comments:

ana australiana said...

Hi Sara! I'm really curious about this too though mostly only in relation to Brazil. Unsurprisingly the work on whiteness seems mostly to occur in relation to gender and sexuality. I found Diane Nelson's writing on the guera/gringa phenotype useful.

Do you know Thad Blanchette's work? For example this piece:

http://bad.eserver.org/issues/2002/60/blanchette.html

Also Lara Moutinho and Adriana Piscitelli. A bit off topic, but still on whiteness:

http://socialsciences.scielo.org/scielo.php?pid=S0104-026X2006000200005&script=sci_arttext

http://www.vibrant.org.br/portugues/artigos2004

Possibly also the special issue of Signs on Latin American and Carribean feminisms, i.e. Vol 28 Issue 2....

:) ana australiana

ana australiana said...

PS - I found a whitening cream in Mexico called White Secret which I thought was rather revealing!

Also, one more on whiteness in Brazil:

http://www.brazzil.com/articles/175-january-2007/9781.html

Mago said...

“Güero” is relative in Mexico. A quite moreno person might be called El Güero; yet he may only be the (almost impreceptibly) lightest person in the group or the family. In this situation I doubt it is associated with privilege.

My observation is that in general it is not considered rude or racist to remark on a person’s appearance (whether referring to their colour, shape or other physical attribute) or assign them a nickname based on their appearance. Hence nicknames such as “Gordo”, “Flaco,” “Negro,” “Güero,” “Chino” (curly-haired), “Chato”, etc. are ubiquitous.

ana australiana said...

Ooh! one more. Blanqueamiento en Ecuador:

http://www.kateswanson.ca

d said...

this is something i'm particularly interested in too!
this special issue of Latin American Perspectives has been useful to me: http://lap.sagepub.com/content/vol25/issue3/.
particularly for colombia, res has two special issues available here http://res.uniandes.edu.co/indexar.php?c=Revista+No+26 and here http://res.uniandes.edu.co/indexar.php?c=Revista+No+27.

Atenea Acevedo said...

Please note the correct spelling for güero/güera.

Thanks!

Sara Koopman said...

fantastic guys! thanks so much for the resources - keep 'em coming!

I agree that it's generally not considered rude to call folks el mono, or el negro - and there's often one of each in a Colombian family, even when the skin tone difference is slight - but it does seem that often the mono gets more of the family resources and vice versa. Just because it's not considered rude doesn't mean that it doesn't carry the weight of racism.

oh, and I fixed the u on guero, thanks.

Sara Koopman said...

oh! and many thanks to Sergio Romero for many of these country specific ones. anyone have suggestions for other countries?

Sara Koopman said...

I do NOT think it would be appropriate to render any of these terms into English as "whitey", which is usually read as derogatory. These terms are generally not derogatory in Spanish, rather the opposite - often said to flatter.

Jon said...

Add "blan" in Haiti, which apparently serves to mean just "foreigner." But it's no doubt a particularly complex term there, and everyone uses it, calling out to you "Hey, blan!"

Jon said...

In fact, perhaps "blan" could be translated as "whitey." Not sure...

Dan Feder said...

"Whitey" is terrible, although I think "blondie" for mono could be OK if the context was right. In Mexico, a güero is a person with light SKIN, while in Colombia a mono is someone with light HAIR. I have never been called "mono" but in Mexico I got called "güero" all the time. Although, as mentioned by others, almost anyone can be "güero" in Mexico, especially if someone's trying to sell you something!

Sara Koopman said...

hm, I would generally agree that mono often references hair - but I've heard plenty of people called mono who had light skin but dark brown hair. others want to weigh in on that one?

Dan Feder said...

There are little differences though. I've lived in Mexico and Colombia - güero refers to light skin color, while mono just refers to light hair color. No one ever called me mono in Colombia, but in Mexico I got called güero all the time. On the other hand, just about anyone can be called güero if someone wants to sell him or her something.

Marion Traub-Werner said...

For the Dominican Republic, I found the most common term for whiteness was 'rubio/a' although blanco/a is often used. I also found a common assumption that gringos were all 'rubios/as.' In the intro to Kim Simmons' new book on race in the DR (specifically the northern region of the Cibao) she addresses this directly: talks about an informant who emphasizes that she is not 'gringa gringa' because she has 'la sangre' -- i.e., she's of African descent. In Reconstructing Racial Identity and the African Past in the Dominican Republic, 2009. For a more Dominicanyork perspective, Ginetta Candelario's Black Behind the Ears (talks about whiteness, especially her experience doing fieldwork as a una Dominicana rubia.