(Dis)Covering the Latin American “Other”: Social (Meta)Representations of Latin Americans among Brazilians, Chileans and Mexicans
The construction of Otherness plays a crucial role in societies. In Latin America, “the question of the Other” is a key element for understanding the region’s history and the identity dynamics related to this social category. In this paper, we discuss a study that aimed to analyze social (meta)representations of Latin Americans among Brazilians, Chileans, and Mexicans, that is, we analyzed what participants think about Latin Americans and what they believe that those who are not from Latin America think about the region’s inhabitants. We conducted a survey with 213 undergraduate and graduate students, from these three countries, through an online questionnaire. Following the theoretical-methodological orientation of the structural approach of Social Representations Theory, data were processed with EVOC software. The participants’ representations regarding others’ representations about Latin Americans were mainly shaped by negative stereotypes, and focused on poverty, violence, expressiveness, and the lack of instrumentality and responsibility of Latin Americans. Facing these hegemonic social representations, the students (re)elaborate representations that also comprise elements of polemic typology, therefore creating and/or focusing on different dimensions of comparison, as an attempt to enhance the ingroup’s value. Moreover, the findings are discussed in terms of continuities and changes involved in the elaboration of social representations of Latin Americans, through elements that are (re)constructed based on the themata that sustain them (mainly derived from the relation between Self and Other). These representations contribute to the different possibilities of identification with Latin America, reaffirming the dynamic, ambiguous and polyphasic nature of social thought.