Eurocentrismo, colonialidad, género y procesos de racializaciónlas pinturas de castas en el siglo XVIII en México

  1. Márquez Gento, Petra
Supervised by:
  1. Mar Gallego Durán Director

Defence university: Universidad de Huelva

Fecha de defensa: 31 May 2023

Type: Thesis


This doctoral thesis is an investigation into the consequences of the colonization process that took place in Latin America after the conquest of America, and the cultural, ideological and social implications that were created. Relations between the Old and the New world began in 1492, the time when the European population arrived in what would be called America, passing through the African coasts beforehand, which marked the beginning of the colonization process that transformed the world. The scenario that determines this process at its beginnings is the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the New Continent, and more than a discovery, it was an extension of the lands known until then. Among various causes, there was a fact that favored European expansion and a capitalism in a mercantilist phase: the Atlantic Trade or trade in slaves from Africa. In this way, a permanent economic, social and cultural relationship between Europe and Africa was generated on the scenarios of America. Starting in the 16th century, the forced transfer of African men and women converted into slaves along with Native slavery transformed not only the identities and epistemologies of the colonizing people, but also, profoundly, those of the colonized people. The conquest of America and the transatlantic trade in African slaves implied a change for the indigenous American and African population in their ways of life that led to a process of racialization, from which racism for skin color was born. In the first part, a historical and theoretical perspective is exposed where the various scenarios that are part of the conquest and colonization of America are briefly described. The concepts of slavery and racism and their relationship with the processes of racialization and sexualization of those populations are analyzed. Racialization in Latin America during Spanish colonialism was based on the belief in various categories of races and racism was a practice of discrimination against those racialized people, non-white people. Racialization was closely linked to the processes of classifying colonized people by skin color, racial indicators showed populations marked as inferior in contrast to other groups that were marked as superior. Miscegenation in Spanish America categorized the different social groups into social castes. Miscegenation implicitly implied the idea of blood purity, the purity of what is Spanish, a racism that despised African culture and descendants and tolerated indigenous culture. The mestizo concept was a term used by the Spanish empire from the 16th century to stratify the different castes of people, the term defined those people who descended from European white people and American Indian people. The mestizo category had fewer rights than a person who was a descendant of two white people, but more rights than a person who belonged to a category that was descended from an African person or descendant. The “black” people who appear in the caste painting reinforce the dominance position of white European people. Those aesthetic, social, cultural and identity models that do not belong to the ideology of white supremacy and European hegemony are represented as belittled, mocked and inferior. In the theoretical framework, we also point out how intersectionality as a concept makes it possible to understand social relationships marked by many factors. In this way, another element used as a tool of domination as a European norm was the imposition on colonized cultures of their own conception of gender and sexuality. Judeo-Christian patriarchy and heteronormativity were imposed categories of social organization that regulated the bodies and social relations of indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples in order to dominate them economically and influence their subjective and collective imaginaries. Likewise, a brief review of the postcolonial and decolonial theories is proposed, as they emerge as critical movements against the colonial rule established by the western empires, and the discourses that justify it, arising in different historical contexts and different conditions. Among the many arguments that both theories share is the question of the racialization of the relations of oppression between the colonizing and the colonized world. The decolonial approaches are located in the historical birth of the colonial matrix of power in the 16th century, they focus on aspects related to gender, sexuality, subjectivity and knowledge as instruments of domination. At the beginning, the postcolonial option focuses on India, which after its independence from imperialism was forced to continue reproducing the old cultural forms of the dominant countries. The postcolonial group focuses on the study of the figure of the subaltern or subaltern, outlining that identity of people who live socially on the peripheries of global geopolitics. In the second part, the most practical framework is described, where the ethnohistorical methodology is explained and the corpus that is part of the study is analyzed. The corpus of analysis consists of a series of paintings, called casta paintings, belonging to the casta painting that developed in New Spain in the 18th century, specifically, it is the series by the author Andrés de Islas. Therefore, the colonial caste system is detailed through the Novohispanic casta paintings. Casta paintings are presented as a mechanism of social representation, which produces and reproduces meanings and ideologies that influence the process of constitution of subjectivities and social stereotypes. The racist and sexist representations that paintings have created and reproduced are explored, which allowed certain narratives to establish themselves as dominant and as visual hegemony. Visual documents from Spanish America in the 18th century are analyzed, reviewing the notions of representation, power, truth, otherness, intersectionality, colonialism, etc. The creation of Otherness is required to justify the colonial project, the notion of race is invented and the images become universal certainties. The importance of the ethnographic method is justified by the value it assigns to different documents, including visual ones, to account for the colonial heritage. In this way, its own narrative unfolds in the union between the production of images and subjectivities: positive representations of indigenous peoples who assimilate to Spanish culture and negative representations of Afro-descendant peoples, in all cases. In this colonial context and focusing, particularly on Mexico, a series of canvases of caste paintings are painted, whose purpose was to categorize and classify the whole of society, the product of miscegenation among Spanish, indigenous and African people. The discourse behind the images was clearly Eurocentric: miscegenation produces people with different skin tones, the darker the skin, the more degraded that person was considered. Therefore, we find a society in which purity of blood and the desire to be an old Christian had its importance, to the point of facilitating social mobility or not. The whitening utopia, in order to improve the race through miscegenation, was based on the white color of the skin and all the values associated with it, family happiness and economic success. The interest of the analysis of the casta paintings resides in the fact that in them we find the utopia of whitening powerfully expressed, the idealization of “whiteness” that allows the lower castes to thrive if they achieve economic success, as one of the social mobility strategies, in addition to heteronormative marriages. Finally, the third part is made up of the conclusions and results. The results obtained after the analysis of the tables are exposed. The conclusions confirm that the proposed hypothesis has been demonstrated through the caste tables. This section provides, among some conclusions, statements that confirm the existence of two parallel racialization processes: On the one hand, the racialization of white European bodies as a colonialist and colonial hegemonic model. In this scenario the indigenous population is located as an extension of the European project, a non-white population that was whitewashed under a model of reproductive sexualization of European people. On the other hand, the third body that joins the Spanish-American scene is that of African people, who suffered a racialization of inferiority and criminality due to skin color. The African population is constituted as a radical otherness, establishing, for the first time, the black/white polarity. This dichotomy explained the brutal stigmatization of people of African descent by the whitening system throughout Latin America, and specifically in New Spain. The stigmatization of people of African descent served to create a hierarchy where the color black was associated with lowliness. To this must be added the bibliographical references used for the development of this thesis.