In Breaking the Boundaries of the Colombian Socio-Racial Order: Black Middle Classes through an Intersectional Lens, anthropologist and intersectional feminist Mara Viveros-Vigoya examines what it means to be Black and middle class in Colombia and how that meaning has been configured over almost a century of the country’s history. By applying an intersectional perspective, this book introduces two important theoretical shifts. First, it challenges the perception of Afrodescendant ‘communities’ as uniformly impoverished and second, it emphasizes the interconnectedness of class with geographical and historical contexts and with axes of social inequality such as gender, race, and age. Viveros-Vigoya argues that since the inauguration of neoliberal multiculturalism in the 1990s, while Blackness and upward social mobility have become more compatible, it remains to be seen whether we are advancing towards a global agenda of social justice or if we are simply opening some spaces for social and political mobility that serve largely to reproduce the status quo in the name of racial equality.
Mara Viveros-Vigoya is professor in the Faculty of Human Sciences at Universidad Nacional de Colombia.
Introduction: Always “Out of Place”
Part 1: Theoretical and Political Dilemmas in Researching the Black Middle Classes
Chapter 1: Colombia’s Elusive Socio-racial Order
Chapter 2: The Heterogeneity of the Category “Middle Class”
Chapter 3: An Intersectional Approach to the Latin American Middle Classes
Part 2: A Historical and Contemporary Account of the Configuration of the Black Middle Classes in Colombia
Chapter 4: The Middle Layers of the Afro-Colombian Population
Chapter 5: Upward Mobility, Whiteness, and Social Whitening in Colombia
Part 3: Upward Social Mobility and Black Identity: An Intersectional Experience
Chapter 6: Three Accounts of Social Mobility from an Intersectional and Regional Perspective
Chapter 7: Women Teachers, Ethno-educators, and Microentrepreneurs in the Formation, Reformation, and Transformation of the Black Middle Classes
Chapter 8: Black Middle Classes in the Crises of Racial Democracy
In Latin America, the congruence of racial and class hierarchies, structurally and symbolically, is a key factor that facilitates the operations of racism, while also making them easy to misrecognize. Mara Viveros-Vigoya’s ground-breaking book, inspired by personal experience, matured through decades of intensive ethnographic and bibliographic research, and fired by anti-racist and feminist ethics, lays bare the complex and intersectional contradictions of this situation for the Black men and women in Colombia who, following paths opened by previous generations, have broken out of the low-status pigeonhole to which Blackness is assumed to belong. Viveros-Vigoya's powerful intersectional approach analyzes in illuminating detail the diverse trajectories and identifications of these people, highlighting the key roles played by Black women. Her book is essential reading for scholars and students interested in racial formations in Colombia and right across Latin America.
Using sociological, historical, political, and intersectional approaches, Viveros-Vigoya shows that the supposed impossibility of being Black, but not poor, in Colombia is belied by the very existence of the people whose stories she shares.Breaking the Boundaries of the Colombian Socio-Racial Order: Black Middle Classes through an Intersectional Lens is theoretically sophisticated and empirically revealing and will be a defining reference in the global study of stratification, racialization, and political citizenship.