By Madeleine Olson What occurs when elite driven narratives about national identity dramatically different differ from the realities people experienced? During the nineteenth century throughout Latin America, when national boundaries were just beginning to become coherent, the upper echelons of society constructed tales about their nations that often vastly differed from lived experiences. Between 1850 […]
By Haley Schroer Nineteen-year-old Antonio de Ulloa set sail for the Americas in the spring of 1735. Ulloa was traveling as one of two assistants to a contingency of French scientists appointed to South America. The observations Ulloa and his counterpart, Jorge Juan, made on the excursion culminated in Relación Histórica del Viage a la […]
What do you think would have happened if a free mulatto — someone of mixed white and African heritage — living in New York or Virginia, had sent a letter to either of the Georges, either King George III (1760-1820) or President George Washington (1789-1797) asking if he might purchase whiteness?
From Mexico to Chile, Latin American intellectuals, artists, and activists proudly proclaim that they, their nations, and their cultures were born from a mix of Spanish and Indian heritage. The adjective for this mix is “mestizo;” individuals of Spanish-Indian descent are “mestizos.”
The castas, or mixed race populations, suffered numerous forms of discrimination in colonial Latin America, but in practice pardos and mulatos could still achieve some social mobility. A rare few, by the mid eighteenth century, were able to petition the Spanish crown through a process known as the gracias al sacar, to purchase whiteness.