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Social Construction - Essay Example

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Characteristic features that pervade these paintings include; a quest for a pure type of people based on physiognomy and its attempt to establish a hierarchy based on race that crowned…
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Social Construction
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Social Construction Racial thinking in Europe in the 19th century has been linked to orientalist paintings. Characteristic features that pervade these paintings include; a quest for a pure type of people based on physiognomy and its attempt to establish a hierarchy based on race that crowned Europeans from the north. Some sculptors were commissioned to make images of types of races found in North Africa. These sculptures reproduce traits physically identified as markers of race, concentrating on profiles of racial types as well as full facials. Mostly, these artefacts were steeped in stereotyping and the need to create an image that people believed to be closer to the truth.
These concepts were connected to Greek and Roman mythology. Greek mythology believed in the fact that geographical aspects played a big role in the different people’s physical appearance (Bond 96). They also believed that mankind’s dispositions and forms corresponded to country of origin’s nature. Thus, people from temperate climates were sluggish and unsuitable for labour while those from extreme climates were vigilant, industrious, and sharp. Roman mythology, on the other hand, stereotyped ethnic groups according to characteristics. An example was the intelligence and craftiness of the Egyptians and the effeminist and unwarlike nature of the Syrians. They used this to prove the existence of a God, since not all this could be spontaneous.
Unlike the English colonies, Spanish America always was a society that was racially mixed. The early conquerors were men, as were the settlers and the Spanish priests. Apart from possibly the priests, the men were in need of female companionship, and this led to intermarriage becoming a Spanish American life staple (Burr 67). Among Spanish officials of high standing, families and wives were common, but not for the rest of the population of colonialists. This led to a rise of mestizos, or population of mixed race. These mestizos soon became the largest numerical proportion of America’s population. While some of the intermingling and intermarriage was forced, some was voluntary. As the population grew a caste, system was institutionalized classifying people according to the proportion of Indian blood that they had. For centuries, the Spanish had followed laws called the purity of blood, via which public office aspirants, as well as those brought in front of an inquisition, were asked to prove their Christian ancestry as far as 10 generations back (Burr 67).
The mestizos were stopped from assuming most offices, as well as holding various jobs (Gergen 101). They were also discriminated against in law courts. Over centuries, a select group of Spanish descendants of pure blood ruled colonial Latin America. The remaining population had limited rights. When independence in the 19th century replaced one class of rulers with another, a problem arose I power handing over. The Chiapas Zapatista rebellion had to do with mestizos and indigenous populations feeling discriminated against and underrepresented. Race played a big role in the colonial Spanish America and continues to do so to date.
The mestizo culture was only one of the racial issues in Spanish America. The Spanish imported slaves to America from West Africa to work in mines and plantations, due to the Indian population destruction (Gergen 12). Intermarriage added another mix into ingredient into the mixture of race in the Americas. Since slaves were utilized more in some places than others, some areas became heavily populated with Africans than others. Thus, Brazil and the Caribbean have a bigger population of Africans than say Argentina and Chile (Hacking 56). Imperialist projects carried out by colonial powers had the aim of building a global empire. Most of the indigenous people and Africans, thought to be backward, were to be utilized as labour force for the imperialist colonialists.
Works Cited
Bond, George C. Social Construction of the Past: Representation As Power. New York: Routledge, 2007. Print.
Burr V. Social Constructionism . New York: Routledge, 2009. Print.
Gergen K J. An invitation to social construction. London [u.a.]: Sage, 2008. Print.
Gergen K J. Social construction in context. London [u.a.] : SAGE, 2001. Print.
Hacking I. The social construction of what? Cambridge, Mass. [u.a.]: Cambridge Univ. Press , 2008. Print. Read More
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