Eva Canel’s 1891 play La mulata reflects fin-de-siècle racial anxieties in Spain. The colonial and racial gendered Other performs the Spanish ideal of feminine domesticity, destabilizing racialized gender roles. The play also enacts fears of undifferentiation between colony and metropole. The trope of racial passing exposes the instability of colonial racial hierarchies, questioning Spanish “whiteness” and feminine domesticity. Although the play posits a construction of female respectability with the potential to transcend racial barriers, questions of the author’s positioning relative to colonial discourses, the performance of blackness, and audiences’ reception to the play’s message complicate that interpretation.

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