Mestizes, Race, and Colonialism in Mexico

José de Páez (New Spain, 1720–1790), Mexican Castes (Castas mexicanas), (15 total), ca. 1780, “1. De Español, e India, produce mestizo”, 18th century, Oil on canvas; 36 x 41 in. (91 x 104.5 cm), Private Collection. Photography by Peggy Tenison.

Witnessing the coup in Bolivia and seeing masses of both criolles and mestizes reassert colonial rule against Indigenous people in the country has convinced me of the need to write a particular essay about mestizes’ relation to the colonial caste systems in the Americas as well as to colonialism broadly. I am myself a Chicane mestize, and my community is drowning in false, colonial assumptions in the direction of…