By Magali M. Carrera
Reacting to the emerging numbers of mixed-blood (Spanish-Indian-Black African) humans in its New Spain colony, the eighteenth-century Bourbon govt of Spain tried to categorize and keep watch over its colonial topics via expanding social rules in their our bodies and the areas they inhabited. The discourse of calidad (status) and raza (lineage) on which the laws have been established additionally came upon expression within the visible tradition of recent Spain, fairly within the designated style of casta work, which imagined to painting discrete different types of mixed-blood plebeians.
Using an interdisciplinary procedure that still considers criminal, literary, and spiritual files of the interval, Magali Carrera specializes in eighteenth-century portraiture and casta work to appreciate how the folks and areas of latest Spain have been conceptualized and visualized. She explains how those visible practices emphasised a seeming realism that developed colonial bodies—elite and non-elite—as knowable and visual. while, despite the fact that, she argues that the chaotic specificity of the lives and lived stipulations in eighteenth-century New Spain belied the semblance of social orderliness and totality narrated in its visible artwork. eventually, she concludes, the inherent ambiguity of the colonial physique and its areas introduced chaos to all desires of order.
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Additional resources for Imagining Identity in New Spain: Race, Lineage, and the Colonial Body in Portraiture and Casta Paintings
38 The reason for this disqualification and control of black-skinned people was quite simple. Criollos and Spaniards of New Spain were confronted with a problem not faced as extensively by their European counterparts: miscegenation, that is, the possibility that the purity of Spanish blood— and to a certain extent, Indian blood—would be permanently corrupted by admixtures with African blood. 39 He wrote that the offspring resulting from a Spaniard and a “Negro” was a mulatto, and this “mulato can never leave his condition of mixed blood, .
Of greater concern was the distinction between Christians and non-Christians, who were identified as the Jews and Moors. The common Spanish idea of blood as a vehicle initially of religious faith and later as a mark of social condition is probably related to medieval physiological theory according to which the mother’s blood fed the child in the womb and then, transformed into milk, fed the baby outside the womb as well. A child’s substance was provided by the mother’s blood. . 26 “Raza” connoted generational association with Jews and Moors and was used in Spain as a means to legitimatize the discrimination and persecution of non-Christians and their descendants.
In part, they focused on renovating the nomenclature of human anatomy. 21 Using physiognomic rationale and relying on a diagnostic gaze, these writers observed the body as being legible through assessment of “external bodily characteristics as a system of signs representing the invisible inner character. . 23 In Spain this discourse on the body was used to promote better identification and maintenance of the king’s subjects. In eighteenth-century New Spain, as is clear in Doña Margarita’s case, the concept of calidad shared this diagnostic strategy and may be seen as reflecting physiognomic constructs.
Imagining Identity in New Spain: Race, Lineage, and the Colonial Body in Portraiture and Casta Paintings by Magali M. Carrera