Casta painting containing complete set of 16 casta combinations (racial classifications in Spanish colonies in the Americas)

Ben Vinson: Mestizaje and the Frontiers of Race and Caste in Colonial Mexico

Before Mestizaje is an examination of race and caste in colonial Mexico, and opens new dimensions on the history of these issues in Latin America by examining what Vinson refers to as ‘extreme’ caste groups in Mexico.

Dr. Edward Collins

Professor Ben Vinson IIIBen Vinson is Provost and Executive Vice President at Case Western Reserve University at Cleveland, Ohio. He is also a Professor of History at Case Western’s Department of History. A graduate of Dartmouth and Columbia universities, Professor Vinson served on the faculties of Barnard College and Pennsylvania State University before joining Johns Hopkins University in 2006 as a professor of history and founding director of its Centre for Africana Studies.

Professor Vinson is a historian of Latin America whose scholarship focuses on colonial Mexico, with particular emphasis on race and the African presence in Mexico. He is the author and editor of a number of works, including Bearing Arms for His Majesty: The Free‐Colored Militia in Colonial Mexico (published in 2001), Flight: The Life of Virgil Richardson, A Tuskegee Airman in Mexico (published in 2004), Black Mexico: Race and Society from Colonial to Modern Times, co‐edited with Matthew Restall and published in 2009, and Africans to Colonial Spanish America, co‐edited with Sherwin K. Bryant and Rachel O’Toole, and published in 2012.

His most recent work, Before Mestizaje: Lobos, Moriscos, Coyotes and the Frontiers of Race and Caste in Colonial Mexico (Cambridge University Press) is the subject of episode 18 of History Hub’s podcast series – ‘Kingdom, Empire and Plus Ultra: conversations on the history of Portugal and Spain, 1415-1898′.

Before Mestizaje is an examination of race and caste in colonial Mexico, and opens new dimensions on the history of these issues in Latin America by examining what Vinson refers to as ‘extreme’ caste groups in Mexico. Through examining the lives and experiences of these groups and others, the work seeks a deeper understanding between the idea of Mestizaje and the colonial caste system, by arguing that if we are to understand the concept of Mestizaje, we must understand earlier forms of racial mixture, hybridity, and elasticity that served as its precursor in the Spanish colonial world.

Ben Vinson’s conversation with series host Dr. Edward Collins is now available as a podcast on iTunes and Soundcloud.

Listen to ‘Mestizaje and the Frontiers of Race and Caste in Colonial Mexico’, with Professor Ben Vinson III (Case Western Reserve University).

Castas: collection of images relevant to Ben Vinson’s podcast

Kingdom, Empire and Plus Ultra

This History Hub podcast series features interviews with experts in the areas of Portuguese and Spanish history, from the beginning of the Portuguese discoveries in 1415 to the end of Spanish dominion in America in 1898. The interviews, conducted by historian Dr. Edward Collins, cover a range of topics on the domestic and overseas histories of both nations, which include, among others: the Portuguese explorations of Africa and Asia, Spanish navigation and settlement in America, the church in Portugal and Spain, monarchy and intermarriage in the Iberian kingdoms, natural science and mapping in America, the role of nautical science, Irish historical relations with Portugal and Spain, and imperial competition in Europe and overseas. The interviewees comprise a number of established and renowned academics, as well as up-and-coming researchers from universities and institutions worldwide.

This History Hub series is funded by UCD Seed Funding and supported by UCD School of History. Series editor is Mike Liffey (Real Smart Media).

Download series episodes on iTunes or listen via Soundcloud.

Episodes

Image: detail from “Casta painting containing complete set of 16 casta combinations (racial classifications in Spanish colonies in the Americas)” (18th century). By Unknown (Museo Nacional del Virreinato, Tepotzotlán, Mexico) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.