In this talk mestizaje is both the topic and a pretext. Treating it the topic of the paper, I want to explain why, in contrast with other Latin American countries such as Mexico, Bolivia, and Ecuador mestizaje--or the project of racial mixing--never became an official national ideology in Peru. But I also want to use mestizaje as a pretext to analyse the historical production of the Peruvian culturalist scientific definition of race, which is partially similar to what analysts of contemporary European forms of discrimination have called ‘racism without race’ or "new racism." I call it silent racism, because in the case of Peru, as we shall see, culturalist forms of discrimination are neither new, nor without race. The debate about racial mixture (or mestizaje) that took place in Peru in the first half of the 20th century, is a good window to explore the reasons that Peruvian intellectuals might have had in developing this presumably peculiar definition of race which eventually allowed for the current denial of racist practices in Peru. Illustrative of these denials Jorge Basadre, one of Peru’s most eminent historians declared in the mid 1960s.
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