Racial and Ethnic Identity in Mexican Public Health Research, 1990s – 2010s
Fletcher, Grace Ellie
The importance of an adequate description of the general population from which a researcher is sampling is a central premise of all epidemiological and public health research. Racial and ethnic categories are a critical part of that characterization, since health disparities often emerge along those dividing lines. Mexico, however, is a country that for centuries attempted to create a national narrative of mestizaje, or mixing, effectively arguing that Mexicans were all one cosmic race. This thesis draws on two peer-reviewed Mexican public health journals, the Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública, published by the Pan American Health Organization from 1997 to the present, and Salud Pública de México, published by the Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública from 1959 to the present, to explore the racial and ethnic categories used in the Mexican public health literature on nutrition over the past 50 years. I argue in this paper that the ideology of mestizaje extends to the public health and epidemiological literature on nutrition and obesity published in Mexico about Mexicans—that the racial and ethnic categories that are so central to health disparities research are elided and subsumed by this national ideology, with potential ramifications not only for public health research and policy, but for the health of Mexicans in general.