Mestizo Modernity in Latin America

  • Ronerto Briceño-León
Keywords: Modernity, modernization, sociology, mestizo, Latin America, theory


The modernity of Latin America has been described as incomplete, imitative,
fragmentary, imposed, false. These perspectives of interpretation
are based on binary social models and of opposite and successive extremes
in time, where modernity and tradition are exclusive realities. This
article seeks to understand and value the uniqueness of Latin American
modernity as a new social reality that merges tradition and modernity
and creates a particular type of modernity that qualifies as mestizo. The
author carries out a comprehensive review of the literature on modernity
to expose how the concept is transformed from serving to qualify a time
in the history of Europe, becoming a model of social organization, and
finally a universal and normative model of social change. The processes
of mobilization, differentiation and secularization of modernization
are analyzed and confronted with the singular form of how they have
occurred in Latin America. The article affirms that modernity exists as
a reality and as an expectation in the region, but it does not respond to
binary schemes, nor is it a continuum, nor a juxtaposition of models, but
it is a novelty that although it feeds on multiple origins, it is not same to
them. The conclusion is that describing modernity as mestizo is more
appropriate than the ambiguous, liquid, mausoleum, or entangled denominations
that contemporary sociology has used. The mestizo modernity
is then a current reality, but it is also a cultural program that proposes
a proud recognition of its uniqueness and affirms that, rather than an
obstacle, its hybridization can be a lever, and that the identity of societies
should not be constructed by looking at past, but to the future.