Iván Sandoval-Cervantes

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Iván Sandoval-Cervantes is a Cultural Anthropologist from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico and is currently a professor at the University of Nevada. He received a grant for “Redefining dog breeds in Mexico City: Race, Nationalism, and Compassion.” This project will examine the relationship between dog-breed and dog adoption in Mexico City. Rescue dog organizations are redefining dog-breeds using racial terminology, such as mestizo (mixed). This terminology seeks to provoke compassion, empathy, and higher adoption rates. It is also changing how people think of dog-breeds and racial terminology. He writes:

There is an increasing interest from critical animal studies to look at the relationship between racial categories and non-human animals. Race and species are interrelated concepts but their relationship is not often analyzed. I believe that a project like this will allow for a deeper analysis of how race and species are discussed in the day-to-day lives of people interested in giving dogs a better life while remaining aware of the ways in which people distinguish between different dog breeds and different racial categories.

2021 Updates:
Iván has engaged in literature review and research on social media and has found that shelters often use the label dogs as “mestizo” or mixed to attract people interested in adopting rescues. He writes, “Such movement uses ideas built on the concept of
‘raza cosmica’ or cosmic race used by Mexican philosopher Jose Vasconcelos.” Raza cosmica is all about the importance of mixing races, so it makes sense that mixed would be viewed as superior, even when it comes to dogs as Iván observed. He will be a visiting research fellow at the Animal Law Policy Program at Harvard Law School in spring 2022 where he’ll engage in ethnographic research to further his understanding of this dog-breed and dog adoption relationship. In addition to his research, he’s collaborated with the Mexican Ministry of Culture on a theatre presentation and published a short piece titled “The Politics of Saving Dogs in Mexico” on the Bulletin of the General Anthropology Division. He’s even started work on a conference paper titled “Mexican Dog Breeds as Racial Storytelling” that he hopes to present sometime this year. Find out more about his work on his website here.