Multidimensional ethno-racial status in Latin American contexts of mestizaje

Paredes Egúsquiza, Cristian Luis
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In this dissertation, I propose a framework to explain ethno-racial status in contexts of mestizaje (Spanish for ethno-racial mixture). Ethno-racial status refers to the combination of socially ranked and individually embodied ethno-racial characteristics. These characteristics represent distinct dimensions that should be considered together when analyzing ethno-racial issues in these contexts: phenotype, ancestry, and self-identification. I alternatively interpret self-identification, beyond phenotype and ancestry, as exposure to the beliefs –ethno-racial ideologies– that give meaning to local ethno-racial identities rather than explaining it as a central indicator of race. Using survey data, I investigate whether phenotype is a significant dimension of ethno-racial status in Guatemala. I examine the association between skin color and ethnic self-identification, and differences by ethno-racial characteristics in the perception of skin color discrimination, and in the desire for a whiter skin color. I find evidence of a direct association between skin color and ladino self-identification, a greater perception of skin color discrimination by individuals with more indigenous characteristics, and a direct association between indigenous ancestry, captured by indigenous first language, and the desire for a whiter skin color. These findings reveal the significance of phenotype as a distinct dimension of ethno-racial status in Guatemala beyond ancestry and ethnic self-identification. Next, I examine whether there are significant differences in educational attainment and household possessions by phenotype, ancestry, and self-identification in Peru. I find that indigenous/Afro ancestries and darker skin colors are inversely associated with both socioeconomic outcomes. Moreover, white self-identification compared to mestizo is negatively associated with educational attainment, but positively associated with household possessions. This study unveils ethno-racial ideologies as relevant beliefs that are instrumental in gaining socioeconomic advantages. Afterward, I investigate whether Catholic self-identification is directly associated with non-Afro ethno-racial self-identifications, and whether individuals who self-identify as Catholic are significantly prejudiced against Haitians in the Dominican Republic. I find regional-level evidence of a direct association between Catholic self-identification and non-Afro ethno-racial self-identifications. I also find national- and regional-level evidence of a direct association between Catholic self-identification and prejudice against Haitians. These findings reveal the role of Catholicism as a relevant aspect of racialized Dominicanidad (“Dominican-ness”).