Week 3: The Colonial Experience

What became of the America’s after colonization was a complex process of cultural diversification. It is interesting to see how after 1942, the continent of America (both North and South) became diversified in terms of the different races and peoples that began to settle in the Americas.

The Casta Paintings are a very clear example of how diverse the population became. The video is very clear about the demographics of the population after several years of conquest and colonization. The Casta Paintings try to exemplify how diverse and mixed the blood had become. There were all types of arrangements, which also meant new types of social classes. The video makes this very clear, as well as the paintings. The differences in class are obvious in the paintings where they depict the different class standings and hierarchical character of the colonial society.

It is interesting to see how even though it is thought of the colonization as being a process that alienated the indigenous populations and treated them as “non-human” the casta paintings bring a certain human character to these indigenous populations by mentioning the results of the different combinations in blood mixtures. It seems that every type of person is taken into consideration to make a clear statement of the demographics of the population. The Casta Paintings serve also as a type of demographic pyramid by which they also try to emphasize the consequences of inter-ethnic breeding. It helps to differentiate different groups and how one had to take into consideration the consequences of breeding and where one would be socially placed if one decided to get with another ethnic group.

It is even more interesting to see the consequences that this inter-ethnic breeding had in the future of Latin America. Especially considering that many of the independence movements were led by sons of Spaniards that were not being treated the same because they had not been born in the Iberian Peninsula. Therefore, it is safe to say that the Casta Paintings were more than just an example of the demographics of the time, rather they served as a political tool that helped in making it more understandable who were the ones who had power and who were the ones who didn’t. The Casta Paintings also help in telling a story of slavery and how indigenous women were also used as sexual objects and how most of the time the sons/daughters of colonizers were treated as less simply because their mothers were indigenous.

Question: To what extent did the Casta Paintings influence other social/political/economic aspects of the Americas?

2 thoughts on “Week 3: The Colonial Experience

  1. Christiana Tse

    I think the Casta Paintings definitely had a pretty big effect on the social/political/economic aspects of America. As you already mentioned, the Casta Paintings reinforced the social hierarchy of the races during that time, creating even more defined categories for where each race fell on the social ladder – since these paintings were a relatively widespread phenomenon, how they designated each race undoubtedly assisted in perpetuating the ideas of the time. Politically, the paintings were controversial to a certain extent and I think because of that, it definitely can be linked to the political spectrum, even if not directly. Economically, they were seen as valuable pieces of art – furthermore it depicted the assumed/stereotypical economic status of people of different races. Overall, I think the Casta Paintings had an effect on all three of the aspects that you mentioned, but most prominently within the social sphere.

  2. michelle marin

    There was a big gap between Columbus’s first trip to the West, and the circulation of Casta Paintings, considering that they weren’t around much until the 18th century. I believe that it was during this ‘gap’ where social perceptions in the Americas were being developed (more specifically, in Mexico, where a lot of the paintings were produced). I feel like the paintings portrayed the people the way they did because of the social ideas/stereotypes that were built over time, and because of how the general public may have seen the various mixes of races. So, to answer your question, while the Casta Paintings may have enforced the ideas and the views of mixes at the time, I don’t believe that they had a direct effect on the social aspects of the Americas.


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