The Program for Learning and Community Engagement at Texas A&M University-Texarkana will present “Examining Race in Colonial Mexico” featuring Dr. Robert Schwaller on Thursday, March 9, at 7 p.m. in University Center 217 on the A&M-Texarkana campus, 7101 University Ave., Texarkana, Texas.
Dr. Schwaller serves on the faculty of the Department of History at the University of Kansas at Lawrence. His research focuses on the development of race in Latin America.
His current book project, “’Géneros de Gente’: Defining Difference in Early New Spain” explores the intellectual and social development of racial labels in early colonial Mexico. This research traces how late medieval Iberian notions of difference were transported across the Atlantic where they evolved into new socio-racial categories.
“Terms like español, indio, mestizo, mulato and negro came to define and circumscribe individuals by mapping stereotypes on to phenotypical and somatic difference,” Dr. Schwaller explained in his study. “In order to better understand the relevance of these categories, this study analyzes the social and cultural history of early mestizos and mulatos. Although these individuals suffered prejudice in early colonial society, during the 16th century the socio-racial order defined by Spaniards did not fully circumscribe individuals’ ability to be economically or socially successful.”
Dr. Schwaller’s ongoing research builds on this project and focuses on the interaction between Africans and Native Americans in the early Atlantic World. In particular, his research has shown that in early colonial Mexico Africans and indigenous people frequently formed families and communities. These positive interactions benefitted both groups and undermined the Spanish attempt to rigidly separate subaltern subjects.
“We are excited to bring to A&M-Texarkana such a cutting-edge scholar in the field of Mexican history,” said Dr. Michael Perri, associate professor of history and chair of the PLACE program at A&M-Texarkana.
PLACE is a faculty-led program designed to create a community of learners comprising A&M-Texarkana students, faculty, staff and the community at large. PLACE chooses an annual theme around which to organize a lecture series and other activities that provide focal points for learning and discussion. This year’s theme is “Race and Ethnicity.”