In this ambitious study, Diego von Vacano aspires to rescue the concepts of mixed race and race more generally both from neglect within his own field of political theory and from the kind of racialized thinking that informed the renowned colonial casta paintings. Casta portraits, as elaborate pseudoscientific catalogues of the specific human results of reproductive encounters between racially marked peoples in the Americas (such as the painting of the mulatto child who results from the blending of Spanish man and black woman that adorns the book's cover), offer visual evidence of “the Spanish Enlightenment's use of aesthetic forms to enact social control, exercise power, and classify subaltern groups” (p. x). Von Vacano challenges this history with his “synthetic paradigm,” which urges us to instead see race “as essentially mixed, fluid, and dynamic, rather than static, fixed, or rigid” (p. 3). He...

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