This paper presents some of the processes of ethnic/'racial' discrimination taking place in Ecuador but which have thus far remained hidden from research and policy making by representations of Ecuador as a homogenously mixed or 'mestizo' state. To uncover these processes, this paper explores how those generally identified as Ecuadorian upper-class 'white-mestizos' in Ecuador's two main cities, Guayaquil and Quito, represent their ethnic identity and that of others in relation to the state's hegemonic discourse of mestizaje or 'mixture'. By looking at the terminology used to refer to certain mestizos, i.e. 'longo' and 'cholo', this paper argues that the upperclasses' use of mestizaje hides discriminatory practices that inhibit the creation of socio-economic networks among mestizos and, therefore, render the returns from education for certain individuals limited, also checking their opportunities in the labour market and impeding their social mobility. The state's promises of social inclusion and advancement through mestizaje are, therefore, rendered empty.
CRISE Working Paper 58, 29 pp.