Please join us for Professor López Calvo's lecture, "A Latin American proto-model minority: Empowering the Chinese by denigrating Blacks."
Among the different literary representations of Afro-Asian, interethnic, sociocultural interactions in Latin America and the Caribbean, two recurrent ones are those the eroticized china mulata and of the Black ally who expresses sympathy or even marries the Asian protagonist, falling at times into the “magical negro” category of the abnegated ally whose only role—devoid of full autonomy or agency—in the narrative is to help the Asian protagonist reach his or her life goals. In this presentation, however, I will focus on the animosity and clashes between people of African and Asian descent as represented in Latin American and the Caribbean cultural production. More specifically, I concentrate on instances in which the Chinese community was empowered by denying Black accomplishments, which I consider an antecedent of the model minority myth in Latin American cultural production. In any case, both these alliances and the animosity between Asians and Blacks contribute to challenge the stereotype of the Chinese as an isolated community, as well as the official discourses of mestizaje and mulataje that ultimately favored whiteness over indigenous, Black, or Asian worldviews.