The ideology of mestizaje (mixture) in Latin America has frequently been seen as involving a process of national homogenisation and of hiding a reality of racist exclusion behind a mask of inclusiveness. This view is challenged here through the argument that mestizaje inherently implies a permanent dimension of national differentiation and that, while exclusion undoubtedly exists in practice, inclusion is more than simply a mask. Case studies drawn from Colombian popular music, Venezuelan popular religion and Brazilian popular Christianity are used to illustrate these arguments, wherein inclusion is understood as a process linked to embodied identities and kinship relations. In a coda, approaches to hybridity that highlight its potential for destabilising essentialisms are analysed.
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