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Jennings and Contreras Islas (2022) We Can Re_George Jennings.pdf (145.12 kB)
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“We Can Remove the Skin!”: Realising the Cosmic Race in Mexican Xilam

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-01-09, 14:29 authored by George JenningsGeorge Jennings, David Sebastian Contreras Islas

 Xilam is a modern martial art inspired by pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican warrior cultures, especially by the Aztec cosmological vision. As a human development system, Xilam aims to develop a young generation of Mexicans who are proud of their indigenous heritage and ancestry and are dignified as modern warriors. Its philosophy also stresses the hybrid nature of Mexican ethnicity and culture, blending indigenous, European and Asian influences. This article uses a critical, postcolonial approach to Mexican philosopher José Vasconcelos’s post-revolutionary thesis The Cosmic Race to analyse the potential philosophical meanings of concrete practices within Xilam. Examining interview and video data collected towards the end of an ethnographic project, the art of listening is adopted to show how Xilam attempts to realise the cosmic race in the twenty-first century. Our research parallels the ideas of Xilam practitioners and Vasconcelos’ thesis. It highlights how the revival of pre-Hispanic philosophical notions gives rise to “other” ways of problematising racism in Mexico without Vasconcelos’ utopian messianism. In this sense, “removing the skin” (Dzilam) is presented as an alternative to “the cosmic race”; inclusive “Diversópolis” as an alternative to “Universópolis.” 


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Sociología Del Deporte


Universidad Pablo de Olavide


  • VoR (Version of Record)


Jennings, G., & Contreras Islas, D. S. (2022). “We Can Remove the Skin!”: Realising the Cosmic Race in Mexican Xilam . Sociología Del Deporte, 3 (2), 63–75.

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Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences

Cardiff Met Authors

George Jennings

Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group

  • Qualitative Research Methods and Social Theory

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  • © The Authors


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