Comics and Race in Latin America

Internal description

Research Council Grant [RCG]

Description

From early caricatures to recent accusations of anti-Asianism, comics in Latin America have a troubled relationship to race. As comics use visual shorthands to communicate complex cultural histories quickly, they are susceptible to simplistic, stereotypical representations of cultural difference. But comics artists in Latin America have also produced more considered explorations of race, sometimes constructing anti-racist discourses. Such work is vital in a region with a long history of racial mixture, produced out of indigenous populations, Iberian colonialists, black slaves and (especially Asian and European) economic migrants. Despite legislative advances addressing structural inequalities and growing awareness that racism is a widespread social problem, Latin America is still shaped by long-standing racial hierarchies, often obscured by celebrations of the region's mestizaje (race mixture). The relationship between comics and race demands attention both because of those racial tensions and also because Latin America is currently undergoing a comics renaissance. There are now more independent publishers dedicated to comics; festivals take place in both countries with established comics traditions (Mexico, Argentina and Brazil) and also in others (Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Peru); and, as well as growth in print and digital comics, artists are developing international links, not least as festivals abroad are seeking to work with the region's comics creators. This is the perfect moment to unpack how comics in the region have treated issues of blackness and indigeneity, and how the comics world, which remains predominantly white, might seek out ways to be less inscribed by racial inequalities. This project responds to the need for: (a) better awareness of the history of race in Latin American comics by looking at works from the nineteenth century to the present in three different countries - Argentina, Colombia and Peru; and (b) better knowledge of how race inflects the work of contemporary artists and of the nature of working practices for such artists. The project will undertake archival research in Latin America, Europe and the US and work with six contemporary Latin American comics artists.
Short titleR:HAA ComicsRaceLatinAmerica
Effective start/end date1/03/2129/02/24