Carrera, Magali M. 1950- (Magali Marie Carrera)

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Carrera, Magali M. 1950- (Magali Marie Carrera)


Born July 31, 1950. Education: Arizona State University, B.A.; Columbia University, M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D.


Office—University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, 285 Old Westport Rd., North Dartmouth, MA 02747. E-mail—[email protected].


Academic. Columbus Quincentenary, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, coordinator of planning and research; University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, North Dartmouth, professor of art history.


Teacher of the year, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, 2002-03; College Art Association/Association for Latin American Art Book Award, 2004, for Imagining Identity in New Spain.


Imagining Identity in New Spain: Race, Lineage, and the Colonial Body in Portraiture and Casta Paintings, University of Texas Press (Austin, TX), 2003.


Magali M. Carrera is an academic. Carrera earned a bachelor of arts degree in art history from Arizona State University. She went on to earn a master of arts, master of philosophy, and Ph.D. from Columbia University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Carrera served as the coordinator of planning and research for the Columbus Quincentenary at the Smithsonian Institution, where she supervised the programming and creation of public and scholarly programs and exhibitions. She then began working as a professor of art history at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, where she instructs in the areas of Mexican and Peruvian art and culture, traditional African and feminist theory, and art history. In the 2002-03 academic year, she was awarded the university's teacher of the year award.

Carrera published her first book, Imagining Identity in New Spain: Race, Lineage, and the Colonial Body in Portraiture and Casta Paintings, in 2003 through the University of Texas Press. The book won the College Art Association/Association for Latin American Art Book Award in 2004. The account looks into mixed-blooded people of New Spain, referred to as castas, and examines the colonial serf-imaging that took place at the time of the Mexican colonization by Spain through art.

Barbara Mujica, writing in Americas, commented that "rather than a traditional art book, Imagining Identity in New Spain is a sociological and historical study that uses art as a rich source of cultural expression. Carrera offers a fascinating analysis of Mexican colonial serf-imaging with a focus on castas, or mixed-blooded people." Mujica added that "Carrera's study helps us to understand colonial Mexico as the Mexican elite of the period understood and expressed it through painting." Mujica summarized that "Magali Carrera has produced a remarkable book. Her insights on art and political agendas are applicable not only to colonial Mexico, but also to other places and periods. Carrera's prose is clear and crisp, and her documentation is ample. Especially interesting are the ways she weaves works of fiction, such as El Periquillo Sarniento, into her narrative, and how she helps the reader visualize scenes such as Dona Margarita's hearing. Best of all, of course, is the abundance of cuadros de casta, some of which are reproduced in color."

Thomas B.F. Cummins, writing in the Art Bulletin, commented that Imagining Identity in New Spain contributes "greatly to our knowledge about this unique and fascinating genre," adding that it shows "at the same time the growth of the field of Latin American colonial art history in the United States." More importantly than this, noted Cummins, the publication of this book "demonstrates that scholars in the United States are no longer interested only in the art and architecture of the sixteenth century …. " Cummins found that the book tries "to situate the creation and development of the casta paintings within the discourse of race in colonial Mexico but without ever asking why they occurred only in New Spain, which is a serious flaw. Casta paintings are not an intrinsic expression of Spanish colonialism of the eighteenth century, and Mexico was but a small part of the Spanish Empire at the beginning of the century," and yet Carrera portrays "the casta paintings as an element of a universal Spanish colonial culture." Cummins pondered: "What do these paintings do that such texts cannot? Are they simply illustrative, with no effect? These questions are never fully explored in [the book]." Cummins added that "what is put on view is not portraiture in the terms of its likeness to a specific individual but rather individual traits that are categorical, such as degrees of color and facial features. Carrera is particularly mistaken, I believe, to jump too quickly to a comparison between portraits and casta paintings in chapter 1. The mistake lies in not delineating first the characteristics of the casta genre and then outlining the differences between the two genres, what a portrait is and does, and what a casta painting is and does. And this could easily have been accomplished, as the text of the 1711 painting of a mulata by Arellano, the earliest known casta painting, makes the genre's intention clear." Cummins also mentioned that "Carrera's rather loose comparison of the castas and portraits also keeps her from making a critical analysis of one of the most interesting paintings in any of the casta series." Cummins observed that after reading Carrera's Imagining Identity in New Spain, "one comes away with a much better understanding of the tremendous complexities of art production in eighteenth-century New Spain." Cummins commented that "Carrera's discussion of the casta paintings as a developing visual practice opens up ways of thinking about late colonial painting as historical dialectic."



American Historical Review, December, 2004, R. Douglas Cope, review of Imagining Identity inNew Spain: Race, Lineage, and the Colonial Body in Portraiture and Casta Paintings, p. 1612.

Americas, July 1, 2003, Barbara Mujica, review of Imagining Identity in New Spain, p. 57.

Art Bulletin, March, 2006, Thomas B.F. Cummins, review of Imagining Identity in New Spain, p. 185.

Hispanic American Historical Review, November, 2004, Abel Alves, review of Imagining Identity in New Spain, p. 734.

Sixteenth Century Journal, winter, 2004, Kelly Donahue-Wallace, review of Imagining Identity in New Spain, p. 1244.


University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, College of Visual & Performing Arts Web site, (March 12, 2008), author profile.

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Carrera, Magali M. 1950- (Magali Marie Carrera)

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