Into the twenty-first century, mestizaje has endured as a salient paradigm for understanding race in modern Latin America. Discussions of the concept have been dominated by the moment of colonial contact and subsequent intermixing of European, indigenous, and African components. But, as José Buscaglia notes, the political construct of Latin America excludes the circum-Caribbean and silences the presence and contributions of people of African and Asian descent, while favoring intermixing among European and indigenous. Making the Caribbean—the first site of globalization and successful slave revolution—central to our understanding of the development of race and inequality in the region subverts the dominance of mestizaje. Asians in particular have been viewed as temporary and fleeting migrant streams without a permanent imprint on society. As a result, they have remained largely absent from discussions of processes of mestizaje (and Creolization in the Caribbean). In fact, though, the exchange between Asia and the Americas dates back to the sixteenth-century Manila galleon trade, which brought luxury goods from Asia to the New World, along with images of a distant, exotic Orient. Although small communities of Chinese, Japanese, and Filipinos settled in the region, the mass recruitment of laborers from the Indian subcontinent and East Asia came centuries later, in the wake of emancipation.
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- The Asian Presence in Mestizo Nations: A Response
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