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The White Indians of Mexican Cinema: Racial Masquerade throughout the Golden Age

by Mónica García Blizzard

Mónica García Blizzard is Assistant Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

The White Indians of Mexican Cinema theorizes the development of a unique form of racial masquerade—the representation of Whiteness as Indigeneity—during the Golden Age of Mexican cinema, from the 1930s to the 1950s. Adopting a broad decolonial perspective while remaining grounded in the history of local racial categories, Mónica García Blizzard argues that this trope works to reconcile two divergent discourses about race in postrevolutionary Mexico: the government-sponsored celebration of Indigeneity and mestizaje (or the process of interracial and intercultural mixing), on the one hand, and the idealization of Whiteness, on the other. Close readings of twenty films and primary source material illustrate how Mexican cinema has mediated race, especially in relation to gender, in ways that project national specificity, but also reproduce racist tendencies with respect to beauty, desire, and protagonism that survive to this day. This sweeping survey illuminates how Golden Age films produced diverse, even contradictory messages about the place of Indigeneity in the national culture.

“Mónica García Blizzard's first book is a rich and revelatory project … This text is useful for Latin American and Anglophone scholars who work at the intersection of race, ethnicity, gender, and film studies, as the book offers a significant sociohistorical contextualization of the racialized and gendered patterns of colonial power in Mexican cinema.” Film Quarterly

“Well written, tightly argued, and thoroughly researched, The White Indians of Mexican Cinema promises to make a lively and important contribution to studies of Indigenous representation in Mexican cinema.” Dolores Tierney, author of New Transnationalisms in Contemporary Latin American Cinemas




From the author

The moment I realized that open access publication was an option for The White Indians of Mexican Cinema, there was no doubt in my mind that I had to pursue it. The book reconsiders one of the most widely known examples of mass culture of the Latin American twentieth century, Mexican cinema’s Golden Age. During this period of the country’s motion picture history, cinema not only played a significant social and cultural role within the nation, but Mexican films were also widely viewed in the rest of Latin America and by members of diasporic communities within the United States. It only made sense that a book that analyzes a widely disseminated form of culture be broadly accessible, particularly to an international readership in the places where the films themselves were produced and first viewed. Furthermore, the book interrogates Mexican filmic production by foregrounding race, therefore contributing to ongoing debates about representation that occur both within and beyond academia. Through the digital availability of the book I intend to facilitate its use for students, instructors, and scholars of cinema, race, and Latin American Studies while also making it available to film lovers and curious minds everywhere.