The Sociocultural Anthropology of Afro-Latin America

A Brief Illustrative History

Authored by: Kevin A. Yelvington

Routledge Handbook of Afro-Latin American Studies

Print publication date:  November  2022
Online publication date:  November  2022

Print ISBN: 9780367691431
eBook ISBN: 9781003159247
Adobe ISBN:


 Download Chapter



This chapter provides a history of the sociocultural anthropology of Afro-Latin America from the mid-nineteenth century until the early decades of the twenty-first century. This history must necessarily be illustrative rather than exhaustive. The approach is a critical one that considers scientific developments in the light of (1) a political economy of knowledge production and scientific practices occurring in (2) institutional locations (some linked in transnational networks), depending (3) on the sometimes problematic and imperfect reproduction of knowledge across generations and through time, and (4) on how the scientific enterprise is embedded in wider social forces and structures – that is, the assumption that scientific knowledge is integrally connected to the conditions of its production. The chapter begins by showing how the subject of inquiry emerges in colonial political forms and epistemologies and those derived from early and emerging capitalism. The chapter then reviews paradigmatic cases of “anthropological” theories of Afro-Latin America, from social evolutionist perspectives of the late nineteenth century, to culturalist interventions in the early twentieth century, to the diversifying theoretical perspectives c. 1950–1990, to the postmodern anthropology of the neoliberal era starting in the last quarter of the twentieth century entailing debates about “World Anthropologies,” and the retreat from dominant paradigms. It is argued that those research paradigms produced in what became known as the Global South were not always as valorized as those produced in the Global North, and that certain scholars have been included or permitted to contribute to, or innovate upon, anthropological practice while others have been excluded. What must remain largely implicit is the recognition of the production of hierarchies within and between national anthropological traditions. The chapter considers anthropological production in North America, Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean in its purview.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.