I was very struck by the idea that the Latin American system of classification rivals that of the United States, and was perhaps even more advanced. A more ‘ethical’ take on what a person is, which invariably had its own advantages and disadvantages.
In Geography right now we are looking at the same time period, with a focus on colonisation. Having heard about the ‘Doctrine of Discovery’, I can’t help but see the foundations of citizenship and opportunity reflected in the Latin American classification. Despite having been there for time immemorial, indigenous peoples were not seen as being able to pursue professions out of their ‘ability’, or owning land in the same capacity as the whiter populations, the same being said for women and people of African descent.
There appears to have been a very fluid understanding of the distinctions between different races and their abilities, and the fact that people would actively try to erase their ‘stain’ makes complete sense. However much we may not like it, being whiter was a path to more prosperity and, as Dawson says – there was no greater sign of success for a Mestizo man to marry a woman Whiter than himself.
In a sense this was a very advanced system. In comparison with the United States where race was a surefire sign of difference, in Latin America there was a greater acceptance of peoples in general. The fact that indigenous peoples could have their own land, and to some degree their own autonomy is something that was not reflected in British, French and other non-Iberian European colonies. I’m not saying that it was perfect, however, the repercussions of these choices can still be seen today – for example, in Bolivia, Evo Morales leads as an indigenous president, whereas in the United States this is not something that has even been considered as a possibility. Could we not therefore say that the system was more progressive and inclusive than that of countries generally considered to be more advanced and prosperous?
The question of women’s rights is, however, a different story altogether. Today, in a more feminist world, we can be outraged at the exclusion of women from any consideration of representation in Latin America. As shown, there were a few, such as María Eugenia Echenique, who openly criticised this position, however, overall most were complacent in the belief that women did not deserve the same rights as men. This is something that can also be seen today in Latin America. Out of 33 countries, there is not one which is led by a woman. There have been female leaders in the past, yet it is ironic that the further into the future we head, the fewer female leaders there are.
The Latin American system of classification and citizenship is one which opened doors and futures to some marginalised groups, however, slammed it in the faces of others.
October 7, 2019 — 2:39 pm
Hi! Thank you for your blog it was really interesting to read. Even though I agree with the most part of your article, I have to say that I don’t really see your point when you talk about the Bolivian and American President. In fact, don’t you think that Barack Obama could have embodied at some point a marginalized community or did he just give an image?