Title

Jews and Italians: The whitening project in Rómulo Gallegos’ “Los inmigrantes” and Rufino Blanco Fombona’s Judas capitolino

Subject Area

Spanish American Studies

Abstract

Jews and Italians: The whitening project in Rómulo Gallegos’ “Los inmigrantes” and Rufino Blanco Fombona’s Judas capitolino

Rómulo Gallegos’ short story “Los inmigrantes” (1922) tries to separate itself from the binary representation of race as white and non-white. His narrative seemingly embraces Venezuela´s mixed racial status, while trying to racially classify Jewish and Italian immigration at the beginning of the 20th century. Using a race-conscious identity perspective (Crenshaw et al.), I demonstrate the complexities surrounding Jewish and Italian immigration in Venezuela as intellectuals, like Gallegos and Rufino Blanco Fombona, try to racially define Jews as either white or non-white. Throughout his narrative Gallegos seems to understand the non-whiteness of Jews and Italians, but trying to categorize them as non-white establishes his confusion between race as a cultural category and pureza de sangre. In turn, Gallegos’ racial thought is solidified as deterministic, and like Blanco Fombona’s Judas capitolino (1912), caricaturizing the attempts at racial passing of the Jews, Italians, and mixed race individuals. A supposed support for mestizaje demonstrates the inability of Italian and Jewish immigration to whiten what he denominates the raza autóctona, the Venezuelan mixed race individual that Gallegos believes to be barbaric and impure. Without the correct shade of whiteness to soften Venezuela’s mixed race majority, the raza autóctona will take over positions of power threatening the white order, and dooming Venezuela’s (white) future.

Brief Bio Note

Short Bio –Alana Alvarez, Ph.D. (Caracas, 1985)

I got my Ph.D.in Spanish (2016) at Vanderbilt University. I also graduated magna cum laude (Licenciada en Letras) at Universidad Central de Venezuela (2008). My current research focuses on critical race studies, whitening studies, 19th and 20th century Venezuelan literature, nationalist discourses, and cultural studies.

Keywords

race-conscious identity perspective, Critical Race Theory, pureza de sangre, raza autóctona, mestizaje, Venezuela

Location

Room 210

Presentation Year

2017

Start Date

3-24-2017 3:45 PM

Embargo

11-4-2016

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Mar 24th, 3:45 PM

Jews and Italians: The whitening project in Rómulo Gallegos’ “Los inmigrantes” and Rufino Blanco Fombona’s Judas capitolino

Room 210

Jews and Italians: The whitening project in Rómulo Gallegos’ “Los inmigrantes” and Rufino Blanco Fombona’s Judas capitolino

Rómulo Gallegos’ short story “Los inmigrantes” (1922) tries to separate itself from the binary representation of race as white and non-white. His narrative seemingly embraces Venezuela´s mixed racial status, while trying to racially classify Jewish and Italian immigration at the beginning of the 20th century. Using a race-conscious identity perspective (Crenshaw et al.), I demonstrate the complexities surrounding Jewish and Italian immigration in Venezuela as intellectuals, like Gallegos and Rufino Blanco Fombona, try to racially define Jews as either white or non-white. Throughout his narrative Gallegos seems to understand the non-whiteness of Jews and Italians, but trying to categorize them as non-white establishes his confusion between race as a cultural category and pureza de sangre. In turn, Gallegos’ racial thought is solidified as deterministic, and like Blanco Fombona’s Judas capitolino (1912), caricaturizing the attempts at racial passing of the Jews, Italians, and mixed race individuals. A supposed support for mestizaje demonstrates the inability of Italian and Jewish immigration to whiten what he denominates the raza autóctona, the Venezuelan mixed race individual that Gallegos believes to be barbaric and impure. Without the correct shade of whiteness to soften Venezuela’s mixed race majority, the raza autóctona will take over positions of power threatening the white order, and dooming Venezuela’s (white) future.