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The Science and Politics of Race in Mexico and the United States, 1910-1950

The Science and Politics of Race in Mexico and the United States, 1910-1950
The Mexican Cultural Institute of Washington, D.C.
Friday, November 16, 2018 - 3:30 PM to 5:30 PM

Join the Nathan and Jeanette Miller Center for Historical Studies in celebrating the release of Professor Karin Alejandra Rosemblatt's latest book, The Science and Politics of Race in Mexico and the United States, 1910-1950. Commentary by Joanne Rappaport and Julia Young, moderated by David Sartorius. Co-sponsored by the Mexican Cultural Institute and the UMD Latin American Studies Program.

In this history of the social and human sciences in Mexico and the United States, Karin Alejandra Rosemblatt reveals intricate connections among the development of science, the concept of race, and policies toward indigenous peoples. Focusing on the anthropologists, sociologists, biologists, physicians, and other experts who collaborated across borders from the Mexican Revolution through World War II, Rosemblatt traces how intellectuals on both sides of the Rio Grande forged shared networks in which they discussed indigenous peoples and other ethnic minorities. In doing so, Rosemblatt argues, they refashioned race as a scientific category and consolidated their influence within their respective national policy circles.


Postrevolutionary Mexican experts aimed to transform their country into a modern secular state with a dynamic economy, and central to this endeavor was learning how to “manage” racial difference and social welfare. The same concern animated U.S. New Deal policies toward Native Americans. The scientists’ border-crossing conceptions of modernity, race, evolution, and pluralism were not simple one-way impositions or appropriations, and they had significant effects. In the United States, the resulting approaches to the management of Native American affairs later shaped policies toward immigrants and black Americans, while in Mexico, officials rejected policy prescriptions they associated with U.S. intellectual imperialism and racial segregation.

Karin Alejandra Rosemblatt is a professor of history at the University of Maryland, College Park. She received her PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is coeditor of Race and Nation in Modern Latin America and author of Gendered Compromises: Political Cultures and the State in Chile, 1920-1950.

Joanne Rappaport is a professor of anthropology at Georgetown University. She is author of four books: The Disappearing Mestizo: Configuring Difference in the Colonial New Kingdom of Granada, Intercultural Utopias: Public Intellectuals, Cultural Experimentation, and Ethnic Pluralism in Colombia, The Politics of Memory: Native Historical Interpretation in the Colombian Andes, and Cumbe Reborn: An Andean Ethnography of History

Julia Young teaches Latin American history at The Catholic University of America. She studied Mexican history at the University of Chicago and has recently published her first book, entitled Mexican Exodus: Emigrants, Exiles, and Refugees of the Cristero War.

David Sartorius teaches history at the University of Maryland, College Park. He received his PhD from the University of North Carolina. He is author of Ever Faithful: Race, Loyalty, and the Ends of Empire in Spanish Cuba.