Ethnic History of Latin America


Biological definition of race - people with a common genetic background
    Genetic population/geographic-biological race
        Genetics primary importance - physical characteristics secondary
*Distinguish biological concept of race from ethnic/national/social
Race - concept on biological/continental level
    Asia, Indigenous America, sub-Sahara Africa
Ethnicity - often confused with race - Bantu, Maya, Eskimo, Siberians, etc.
Social definition of race - confused with ethnicity
    Latin America - especially with indigenous - ethnicity confused with race
Latin America - race mixing and acculturation
    Especially in colonial period, occur together
*Colonial Latin America - stigma against people of mixed ancestry
    European concept of race
    Mestizo and mulatto viewed in negative aspects
*Contemporary Latin America - social definition of Indian

Indigenous, Iberian, and African Background



    Bering Straits entry - 25,000 B.C.
    Asiatic characteristics - lack B blood type
    Occupy empty continent
    Linguistic diversity - 123 total languages in Mesoamerica
    Prior to A.D. 1492, native American probably quite homogeneous
    in regards to physical characteristics
Population at time of Conquest
    West Indies - 3,000,000
    Mesoamerica - 30,000,000
    Andean South America - 15,000,000

16th century Spain   

Until 1810, overwhelming majority of Europeans in the New World derived from Iberian Peninsula
    Non-Iberians legally excluded
16th century Spain anything but homogeneous
    Invasions, racial and cultural mixture
        Iberians, Celts, Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Gypsies
            medieval slaves of varying origins
    Arab/Islamic expansion - Iberian Peninsula conquered 8th Century A.D.
    Sizeable Arab and Jewish populations colonize Iberian Peninsula
    Extensive intermarriage with native Iberians
    Cultural influence - "Golden Age of Islam"
        Architecture, irrigation, navigation, mapmaking, language (Ojala que - may Allah grant that)

Baile de Moros y Cristianos, Antigua, Guatemala, July 25, 2006


Cora Indians, Danza de los Judios
La Semana Santa

Ladino - language of Spanish Jews, mix of Hebrew and Spanish, major branch of Judaism
Iberian reconquest
    Christian advance
    By 15th century, interaction between Christians and Moors had ceased
    A.D. 1492 - reconquest complete
        Inquisition instituted
    Moors and Jews expelled from Spain or become moriscos or marranos  (new Christians)
        Legally forbidden to migrate to New World, but do so anyway, flee Inquisition
            Monterrey established by Jews fleeing Inquisition, others settle in New Mexico   
                and Texas
*Despite Inquisition and discrimination, Spain, particularly in the south, had absorbed much of
Moorish and Jewish culture and genetic background
    Columbus's crew - Moors and Jews
Struggle with Moors had two opposite effects on race relations in Latin America
(1.)  Legalistic discrimination
        Stems from Inquisition
        Long fight against Moors resulted in legalistic expulsion and discrimination
            Colonial Latin America - mestizo had no rights
(2.)  Lack of biological racial prejudice
        Moors dark complexion - at time of invasion culturally and politically dominant
        Until early 15th century continual interaction - Moors, Jews, and Christians
        North African infusion into Spanish culture - idea of racial and cultural mixing
            carried to the New World
    Savage warfare and pacific exchange
    Intolerance and tolerance in ethnic relations
Actual migration
    North America colonized, Latin America conquered   
    1492 - 10,000,000 people in the Iberian Peninsula
        Demographic pressure in the South
        15,000 legal embarkations from Seville between 1505-1559
    Colonial period total - 300,000 from Spain
        Little is known about Portuguese migrations
Composition of migrant population
    Early times - male
        1509-1559 - 10% of licenses to women
    Not much is known of social composition
        Peasants, artisans, lesser nobility


Columbus sent Indian slaves to Spain in 1495
Slave traffic in the other direction started early
    Governor Ovando in Santo Domingo - 1502-1504
First African slaves recruited from existing population in Seville
    Spoke ladino
        Some populations today in southern Spain show African characteristics
Expansion of mines and plantations in the Americas
    Native population has 90% decline in 100 years due to disease and enslavement   
    Africans brought in to fill the void
1518 - first license for slave trade
    Given to foreign interests
    Spain had no colonies along the African coast
    Up to 4,000,000 slaves brought into Brazil in 400 years (end slavery 1880)
    Spanish America - 3,000,000

Majority of slaves to New World from West African coast
    Senegal River in the north to Portuguese Angola in the South
    Ship - port to port - deculturation and acculturation
        Communication - language of the masters
        Dispersal after arrival
        Still influence on folk religion, language, music, and agriculture after arrival
Resistance to disease
    Africa population under selection for centuries for numerous tropical disease (i.e., malaria), native
        Indian population in isolation for 1,000's of years from Old World diseases

Colonial Population

90% population decline of native Americans in 1st century, to 1-5,000,000 for all of Latin America
300,000 legal Spanish immigrants in 300 yrs. of colonial period
5-7,000,000 African slaves
Encomienda - land grant with Indian population given to Spanish nobility, officers.
    Growth of mestizo population in the mainland, mulatto population in the Caribbean (Rimland)
Colonial caste system


Middle America - Mainland vs. Rimland