In the Americas, colonialism informs nearly all aspects of life. From European invasion onward it established a durable matrix of power based on gender relations, racism and ethnic classifications that defined white and criollo male superiority over the indigenous and 'Afro American' as well as over Asian, Jewish, Arabic, Muslim and Hindu populations, peoples and nations, in spite of the ambiguity of ethnic and racial frontiers. Moreover, in recent times, the thrust to decolonize has become a major aspiration that implies the rescue and re-evaluation of native and subordinated cultures.
Colonialism has deeply informed cultural production and popular culture in the Americas. Jazz, blues, rock music and hip-hop have given voice to the experience of ethnic and racial exclusion and Latin America's boom literature is informed by 'magic' indigenous-colonial cosmovisions. Ethnic and racial struggles against quota systems and/or auto-ethnographic media productions are integral parts of the fight against the negative aspects of the colonial legacy.
This volume adopts a broad concept of colonialism, which refers not only to a specific historical period but also to a relational mode that creates asymmetric power relations and modes of exploitation that persist and that are constantly renewed but also contested. Rather than trying to give a comprehensive account of colonial and decolonial dynamics, this collection illustrates the centrality of colonialism in the history of the Americas and the wide range of areas in which decolonizing efforts and postcolonial processes continue to impact the Western Hemisphere.