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The following review appeared in the January 2015 issue of CHOICE:

Loveman, Mara. National colors: racial classification and the state in Latin America. Oxford, 2014. 377p bibl index afp ISBN 9780199337354 cloth, $99.00; ISBN 9780199337361 pbk, $24.95

The history of race and ethnicity in Latin America is long and complicated; seemingly, the more we know about identity constructions, the less we understand them.  Loveman (sociology, Univ. of California, Berkeley) employs national censuses to interrogate why and when racial classifications appear and disappear and to document how policy shifts both within Latin America and internationally are reflected in censuses.  Much of the material Loveman covers will be familiar to scholars of race and ethnicity in Latin America.  Early-19th-century censuses that included what Loveman terms “ethnoracial categorizations” were a violation of the theoretically race-blind liberal policies that governed the newly independent countries.  By the end of the 19th century, census takers included racial categories to document the disappearance of non-European populations, which led to a statistical ethnocide of indigenous, African, and Chinese populations.  At the end of the 20th century, the purpose of classification once again shifted to documenting the preservation rather than the disappearance of ethnoracial distinctiveness.  Loveman usefully chronicles changing attitudes toward race in Latin America, how those interpretations vary across the region, and how they reflect international norms of progress and development. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries.

--M. Becker, Truman State University

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