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National ColorsRacial Classification and the State in Latin America$
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Mara Loveman

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199337354

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199337354.001.0001

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Classifying Colonial Subjects

Classifying Colonial Subjects

Chapter:
(p.43) Chapter 2 Classifying Colonial Subjects
Source:
National Colors
Author(s):

Mara Loveman

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199337354.003.0002

Chapter 2 describes how Spanish and Portuguese imperial states classified their subjects in colonial Latin America. Ethnoracial classification was central to the extractive aims of the Spanish and Portuguese empires. Official ethnoracial categories helped constitute the sociedad de castas; they were the administrative frame on which the imperial bureaucratic apparatus in the Americas was built. Yet even as colonial states devised ways to rule with racial categories, colonial subjects found ways to resist official classifications. The chapter concludes by contrasting colonial efforts to enumerate populations from what would become modern census-taking practices. Because the purpose of enumeration itself was so different, the racial classifications used by imperial states to count their colonial populations in the Americas served very different purposes than similar categories would serve in the context of independent, nationalizing, 19th-century states in the region.

Keywords:   colonial Latin America, sociedad de castas, census, racial classification, Spanish Empire, Portuguese Empire

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