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.



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.

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  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