Gente de razón

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Gente de razón (Spanish pronunciation:  [ˈxente ðe raˈθon] , "people of reason" or "rational people") is a Spanish term used in colonial Spanish America and modern Hispanic America to refer to people who were culturally Hispanicized. It was a social distinction that existed alongside the racial categories of the sistema de castas . Indigenous peoples (indios or "Indians"), who maintained their culture and lived in their legally recognized communities (the repúblicas de indios), and mixed-race people (the castas ), especially the poor in urban centers, were generally considered not to be gente de razón.

Spanish language Romance language

Spanish or Castilian is a Romance language that originated in the Castile region of Spain and today has hundreds of millions of native speakers in the Americas and Spain. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.

Hispanic America Region comprising the American countries inhabited by Spanish-speaking populations

Hispanic America, also known as Spanish America, is the region comprising the Spanish-speaking nations in the Americas.

<i>Casta</i> mixed-race people of Spanish and Portuguese colonial regions in the 17th and 18th centuries

A casta was a term to describe mixed-race individuals in Spanish America, resulting from unions of European whites (españoles), Amerindians (indios), and Africans (negros). Racial categories had legal and social consequences, since racial status was an organizing principle of Spanish colonial rule. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, European elites created a complex hierarchical system of race classification. The sistema de castas or the sociedad de castas was used in the 17th and 18th century in New Spain, a vast area of land starting just below Alaska stretching all the way to the Isthmus of Panama, plus the entire Caribbean, the Floridas and Spanish Philippines, to formally rank the mixed-race people who were born during the post-Conquest period. The process of mixing ancestries in the union of people of different races was known as mestizaje. In Spanish colonial law, mixed-race castas were classified as part of the república de españoles and not the república de indios, which set Amerindians outside the Hispanic sphere. Other terminology for classification is categorization based on the degree of acculturation to Hispanic culture, which distinguished between gente de razón and gente sin razón, concurrently existed and supported the idea of the racial classification system.

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Etymology

The term is ultimately derived from Aristotelian and Roman legal ideas about the use of reason in persons and the status of minority before the law. Under Roman law many adults (women, grown men who were not heads of household) were deemed legal minors under the protection of a tutor (usually the pater familias).

<i>Politics</i> (Aristotle) work of political philosophy by Aristotle

Politics is a work of political philosophy by Aristotle, a 4th-century BC Greek philosopher.

Status in Roman legal system

In Roman law, status describes a person's legal status. The individual could be a Roman citizen, unlike foreigners; or he could be free, unlike slaves; or he could have a certain position in a Roman family either as head of the family, or as a lower member.

In law, a minor is a person under a certain age, usually the age of majority, which legally demarcates childhood from adulthood. The age of majority depends upon jurisdiction and application, but it is generally 18. Minor may also be used in contexts that are unconnected to the overall age of majority. For example, the drinking age in the United States is usually 21, and younger people are sometimes called minors in the context of alcohol law, even if they are at least 18. The term underage often refers to those under the age of majority, but it may also refer to persons under a certain age limit, such as the drinking age, smoking age, age of consent, marriageable age, driving age, voting age, etc. Such age limits are often different from the age of majority.

Additionally, in the early establishment of New Spain, indigenous peoples who converted and were baptized into the Catholic religion often adopted Christian first names and Spanish last names as signs of outward transformation. Colonial leaders used the term "gente de razón" ("people of reason") to distinguish these converted natives from unconverted ones. [1]

In Spanish America

Since the sixteenth century the Laws of the Indies categorized Indians as minors under the protection of the Crown (cf. Dhimmi status in the Ottoman legal system). Slaves, and by extension all Blacks, were also legally deemed not to belong to the gente de razón. These groups were also excluded from the priesthood for most of the colonial period.

Laws of the Indies

The Laws of the Indies are the entire body of laws issued by the Spanish Crown for the American and the Philippine possessions of its empire. They regulated social, political, religious, and economic life in these areas. The laws are composed of myriad decrees issued over the centuries and the important laws of the 16th century, which attempted to regulate the interactions between the settlers and natives, such as the Laws of Burgos (1512) and the New Laws (1542).

A dhimmī is a historical term referring to non-Muslims living in an Islamic state with legal protection. The word literally means "protected person", referring to the state's obligation under sharia to protect the individual's life, property, and freedom of religion, in exchange for loyalty to the state and payment of the jizya tax, which complemented the zakat, or obligatory alms, paid by the Muslim subjects. Dhimmis were exempt from certain duties assigned specifically to Muslims, and did not enjoy certain privileges and freedoms reserved for Muslims, but were otherwise equal under the laws of property, contract, and obligation.

Ottoman Empire Former empire in Asia, Europe and Africa

The Ottoman Empire, historically known in Western Europe as the Turkish Empire or simply Turkey, was a state that controlled much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia and North Africa between the 14th and early 20th centuries. It was founded at the end of the 13th century in northwestern Anatolia in the town of Söğüt by the Oghuz Turkish tribal leader Osman I. After 1354, the Ottomans crossed into Europe, and with the conquest of the Balkans, the Ottoman beylik was transformed into a transcontinental empire. The Ottomans ended the Byzantine Empire with the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed the Conqueror.

In frontier regions such as Chile, Río de la Plata or the Provincias Internas, the category of gente de razón gained additional importance and it was interpreted differently than in the areas with a longer Spanish presence. Since the term was used to distinguish between acculturated people who lived in Spanish settlements (the repúblicas de españoles) from the gente sin razón ("people without reason"), or Natives who had not accepted Spanish rule or who lived on missions, it often included acculturated people who normally might not have been included. These areas were settled by Hispanized Indians from the older areas of Spanish settlement, Mulattos, Blacks and Mestizos, all who usually became gente de razón. Because of this, in the frontier areas mixed-race people had a greater chance of social mobility, and their descendants often became the elites of the region.

Chile republic in South America

Chile, officially the Republic of Chile, is a South American country occupying a long, narrow strip of land between the Andes to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far south. Chilean territory includes the Pacific islands of Juan Fernández, Salas y Gómez, Desventuradas, and Easter Island in Oceania. Chile also claims about 1,250,000 square kilometres (480,000 sq mi) of Antarctica, although all claims are suspended under the Antarctic Treaty.

Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata Viceroyalty of the Spanish Empire in America

The Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata was the last to be organized and also the shortest-lived of the Viceroyalties of the Spanish Empire in America.

Mulatto is a term generally used to refer to people born of one white parent and one black parent, or from two mulatto parents. Although historically considered a factual, fair term of racial classification, in modern day, it is generally considered to be derogatory or offensive.

See also

Emancipado was a term used for an African descended social-political demographic within the population of Spanish Guinea that existed in the early to mid 1900s. This segment of the native population had become assimilated into the former White society of Spanish Guinea which primarily existed along the coastline communities of the continental part of the country, as well as on the islands of Bioko and Annabon.

The Ladino people are a mix of mestizo or hispanicized peoples in Latin America, principally in Central America, as well as the Philippines. The demonym Ladino is a Spanish word that derives from Latino. Ladino is an exonym invented of the colonial era to refer to those Spanish-speakers who were not colonial elites of Peninsulares, Criollos, or indigenous peoples.

Affranchi is a former French legal term denoting a freedman or emancipated slave, but was a term used to refer pejoratively to mulattoes. It is used in English to describe the class of freedmen in Saint-Domingue and other slave-holding French territories, who held legal rights intermediate between those of free whites and enslaved Africans. In Saint-Domingue, roughly half of the affranchis were gens de couleur libres and the other half African slaves.

Related Research Articles

Mestizo race

Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Spain, Latin America and the Philippines that originally referred to a person of combined European and Indigenous American descent, regardless of where the person was born. The term was used as an ethnic/racial category in the casta system that was in use during the Spanish Empire's control of its American and Asian colonies. Nowadays though, particularly in Spanish America, mestizo has become more of a cultural term, with culturally mainstream Latin Americans regarded or termed as mestizos regardless of their actual ancestry and with the term Indian being reserved exclusively for people who have maintained a separate indigenous ethnic identity, language, tribal affiliation, etc. Consequently, today, the vast majority of Spanish-speaking Latin Americans are regarded as mestizos.

Cholo is a loosely defined Spanish term that has had various meanings. Its origin is a somewhat derogatory term for mixed-blood descendants in the Spanish Empire in Latin America and its successor states as part of castas, the informal ranking of society by heritage. The exact usage and meaning has diverged heavily across Latin America, however. Cholo no longer necessarily refers only to ethnic heritage, and is not always meant negatively. Cholo can signify anything from its original sense as mestizo, "gangster" (Mexico), "person who dresses in the manner of a certain subculture", or as a grievous insult.

Half-caste type of biracial person

Half-caste is a term for a category of people of mixed race or ethnicity. It is derived from the term caste, which comes from the Latin castus, meaning pure, and the derivative Portuguese and Spanish casta, meaning race. It can sometimes be used or seen as an offensive term, but this is not universal.

Slavery in the Spanish New World colonies

Slavery in the Spanish American colonies was an economic and social institution central to the operation of the Spanish Empire – it bound Africans and indigenous people to a relationship of colonial exploitation. Spanish colonists provided the Americas with a colonial precedent for slavery; however, early on opposition from the enslaved Indians and influential Spaniards moved the Crown to limit the bondage of indigenous people, and initiated debates that challenged the idea of slavery based on race. Spaniards regarded some indigenous people as tribute under the encomienda system during the late 1400s and part of the 1500s.

Filipinos people native to or citizens of the islands of the Philippines

Filipinos are the people who are native to or identified with the country of the Philippines. Filipinos come from various ethnolinguistic groups that are native to the islands or migrants from various Asia Pacific regions. Currently, there are more than 175 ethnolinguistic groups, each with its own language, identity, culture and history. The modern Filipino identity, with its Austronesian roots, was influenced by Spain, China, and the United States.

Genízaros were detribalized American Indians who lived among the Hispanic population in New Mexico and southern Colorado in the 17th through the 19th centuries. Most of them had Spanish surnames and Christian given names, spoke at least some Spanish, and were, at least nominally, Roman Catholic in religion. Most genízaros were, or their ancestors had been, slaves or indentured servants, captured by the Spanish from Indian tribes or purchased from Indian tribes, especially from Plains Indians. By 1793, out of a total New Mexican population of 29,041 as many as 9,680 people may have been genízaros.

Filipino mestizo

In the Philippines, Filipino mestizo or colloquially tisoy, are people of mixed Filipino and any foreign ancestry. The word mestizo itself is of Spanish origin; it was first used in the Americas to describe only people of mixed Native American and European ancestry.

Indigenous peoples of Mexico, Native Mexicans, or Mexican Native Americans, are those who are part of communities that trace their roots back to populations and communities that existed in what is now Mexico prior to the arrival of Europeans.

The Criollo are Latin Americans who are of full or near full Spanish descent, distinguishing them from both multi-racial Latin Americans and Latin Americans of post-colonial European immigrant origin. Historically, they were a social class in the hierarchy of the overseas colonies established by Spain beginning in the 16th century, especially in Hispanic America, comprising the locally born people of Spanish ancestry. Although Criollos were legally Spaniards, in practice, they ranked below the Iberian-born Peninsulares. Nevertheless, they had preeminence over all the other populations: Amerindians, enslaved Africans and peoples of mixed descent.

In Mexican society, pelado is "a term invented to describe a certain class of urban 'bum' in Mexico in the 1920s."

Latin American art is the combined artistic expression of South America, Central America, the Caribbean, and Mexico, as well as Latin Americans living in other regions.

Ilustrado

The Ilustrados constituted the Filipino educated class during the Spanish colonial period in the late 19th century. Elsewhere in New Spain, the term gente de razón carried a similar meaning.

Old Christian was a social and law-effective category used in the Iberian Peninsula from the late 15th and early 16th century onwards, to distinguish Portuguese and Spanish people attested as having cleanliness of blood from the populations categorized as New Christian, mainly persons of partial or full Jewish descent who converted to Christianity, and their descendants. The term was also used to distinguish "clean-blooded" Christians from Christians who descended from Muslim families – although the overwhelming majority of Spain's Muslims were themselves descendants of native Iberians who converted to Islam under Muslim rule.

Indian auxiliaries Indigenous peoples of the Americas who aligned with the Spanish conquest

Indian auxiliaries or indios auxiliares is the term used in old Spanish chronicles and historical texts for the indigenous peoples who were integrated into the armies of the Spanish conquistadors with the purpose of supporting their advance and combat operations during the Conquest of America. They acted as guides, translators, or porters and in this role were also called yanakuna, particularly within the old Inca Empire and Chile. The term was also used for formations composed of indigenous warriors or Indios amigos, which they used for reconnaissance, combat, and as reserve in battle. The auxiliary Indians remained in use after the conquest, during some revolts, in border zones and permanent military areas, as in Chile in the Arauco War.

<i>Who Would Have Thought It?</i> book by María Ruiz de Burton

María Ruiz de Burton's Who Would Have Thought It? (1872) was the first novel to be written in English by a Mexican living in the United States. After a long period in which Ruiz de Burton's work was almost completely unknown, the novel was rediscovered by critics interested in the history of Chicano literature, and republished to acclaim in 1995. Yet Ruiz de Burton's life was not particularly typical of the Mexican-American experience, as she married a prominent US officer, Captain Henry S. Burton, in the aftermath of the Mexican–American War. The novel reflects her ambiguous position between the Californio elite and the Anglo-Saxon majority of the United States.

Usos y costumbres is a legal term denoting indigenous customary law in Latin America. Since the era of Spanish colonialism, authorities have recognized local forms of rulership, self governance, and juridical practice, with varying degrees of acceptance and formality. The term is often used in English without translation.

Race and ethnicity in Latin America

There is no single system of races or ethnicities that covers all of Latin America, and usage of labels may vary substantially. In Mexico, for example, the category mestizo is not defined or applied the same as the corresponding category of mestiço in Brazil. In spite of these differences, the construction of race in Latin America can be contrasted with concepts of race and ethnicity in the United States. The ethno-racial composition of modern-day Latin American nations combines diverse Amerindian populations, with influence from Iberian and other European colonizers, and equally diverse African groups brought to the Americas as slave labor, and also recent immigrant groups from all over the world.

Bozal Spanish is a possible extinct Spanish-based creole language or pidgin that may have been a mixture of Spanish and Kikongo, with Portuguese influences. Attestation is insufficient to indicate whether Bozal Spanish was ever a single, coherent or stable language, or if the term merely referred to any idiolect of Spanish that included African elements.

An unpublished manuscript entitled "Ordenanzas del Baratillo de México" was signed and dated in 1754 by Pedro Anselmo Chreslos Jache, likely a pseudonym for an educated Spaniard. It is a satirical piece of eighteenth-century colonial literature written in New Spain, which sought to offer an alternative view of life in colonial Spanish America.

References

  1. Miranda, Gloria E. (1988). "Racial and Cultural Dimensions of "Gente de Razón" Status in Spanish and Mexican California". Southern California Quarterly. 70 (3): 265–278. doi:10.2307/41171310. JSTOR   41171310.

Further reading