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Race, Ethnicity, and Power in Ecuador: The Manipulation of Mestizaje

Karem Roitman
Race, Ethnicity, and Power in Ecuador: The Manipulation of Mestizaje
ISBN: 978-1-935049-07-4
ISBN: 978-1-62637-156-9
2009/319 pages/LC: 2009026388
A FirstForumPress Book
"Reveal[s] the incredible divergence between formal policy and rhetoric and informal practices and values in one of the region's most contentious and volatile democracies."—Roberta Rice, Latin American Politics and Society

"An outstanding contribution to our understanding of race, ethnicity, and power in Ecuador. Drawing on her unprecedented field research among the upper class, Roitman illuminates the concept of mestizaje and its negative impact on Ecuadorian society and politics."—Ollie Johnson, Wayne State University


How do today's Latin American elites understand and relate to ideas of power, race, ethnicity, and mestizaje? And what impact does that understanding have on the dynamics of socioeconomic development in ethnically mixed societies? Focusing on the case of Ecuador—a country struggling to recast its mestizo identity in the aftermath of dramatic indigenous uprisings—Karem Roitman reveals how the urban upper classes represent their ethnicity in ways that both hide discriminatory practices and impede social and economic mobility for the "other."


Karem Roitman lectures on international relations at Regent's College, London.


  • Introduction.
  • Foxes and Lions: Studying the Upper Classes.
  • Constructing Identities: The 2001 National Census.
  • Economy, Etiquette, and Ethnicity: Defining Ecuadorian Elites.
  • The Mestizo and the "Other": Ethnic Narratives in Ecuador.
  • The Port and Mestizaje: Ethnic Narratives in Guayaquil.
  • Learning Mestizaje: Ethnic Narratives in Quito.
  • Ethnic Narratives and Socioeconomic Development.
  • Responsibility and Change.
  • Conclusion.
  • Appendixes: Brief Chronology of Ecuadorian History.
  • Methodological Overview.
  • Statistical Data.