Home Institution

Emory University

Publication Date

Spring 2016

Program Name

Nicaragua: Youth Culture, Literacy, and Media


“The only constant in life is change.” What this old adage leaves out is that the processes that catalyze these changes can occur in vastly different ways which impact the product. In the case of the history of Masaya, Nicaragua, today’s dominant culture of mestizaje is the result of the arrival of the Spaniards to the Americas and the process of racial and cultural blend that followed between Spanish, indigenous and African peoples. But in this mixing process, Spaniards held disproportionate power: most of the changes they imposed were made through violent and deceptive imposition. Yet indigenous and African people still subversively preserved their traditions and left bold influences on the new mestizo culture. This essay records how these cultures amalgamated and are present in Masaya’s folklore and sense of identity, paying mind both to the influences of the cultures that mixed to form it as well as giving dignity to mestizaje is its own distinct culture. It also extends the concept of mestizaje as a process of racial and cultural syncretism that is still occurring in Masaya today. This modern mestizaje is a more balanced, natural, and equal exchange of cultures occurring through globalization and technological advances. Masaya’s traditions of folklore, which were originally products of global fusion, are now being subject to more modern fusion. This investigation also examines how Masaya is receiving these changes and modern formation and perception of mixed identity.


Latina/o Studies | Race and Ethnicity | Reading and Language | Social and Cultural Anthropology


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