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Animal Practices and the Racialization of Filipinas in Los Angeles

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Many factors contribute to the racialization of minority groups in the United States. Some individual characteristics, such as skin color or phenotype, are an obvious holdover from colonial times. Cultural differences in representational practices, customs and rituals, and belief systems are now more significant in racialization. Although not typically a focus of academic scrutiny, some of these differences involve contrasts in nature-society relations, and more specifically, nonhuman animal-society relations. In order to examine the relationship between culturally based animal practices and racialization, we organized and conducted a focus group consisting of low-income inner city Filipinas living in Los Angeles, California. Analysis of focus group data reveal that Filipinos in southern California are subject to racialization by Anglos because of their culturally based animal practices, in particular the traditional Filipino practice of treating dogs as food animals. The experience of racialization appeared to engender cultural relativism and tolerance toward the animal practices of other non-Anglo groups.


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