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Nuptiality in Latin America

having;

feminine

honor

is

passive,

masculine

honor,

active.”

A

European

sense

of

honor

was

not

supposed

to

be

linked

to

gender

or

the

person.

“Honor

is

tied to the possession of a title, a rank or riches; it can therefore be

handed

on

and

circulated

in

the

social

system.”

Thus

missionaries

may

have

brought to Latin America Catholic ideas about marriage, concubinage and incest

but one has to wonder how much Moorish ideas may have influenced the Spaniards

and Portuguese colonial laity, especially ideas about gender roles and honor.

At the time of the European conquest of Latin America, the Iberian

peninsula had expunged the Moors and had the European feudalistic economic and

social

system.

Seemingly

consistent

with

such

a

system,

Spanish

and

Portuguese crowns often granted conquerors huge tracts of land and, perhaps,

the

labor

of

the

lands’s

Indian

residents

as

well.

While

some

people

have

consequently likened the colonial situation in Latin America to the feudal

system of Europe, others take issue with this in what I think is a convincing

way.

First,

they

point

out

that

serfs

in

Europe

were

the

same

as

their

ladies

and

lords

racially

and

culturally.

Indians

on

the

other

hand

were

different

from their European masters and a status system developed involving skin color

(Europeans

and

later

Creoles

being

on

top).

Some

people

considered

a

White

person

morally

superior

to

a

person

of

color

simply

by

virtue

of

race.

Nor

was it unheard of for a relatively poor White to marry a rich Indian, Mestizo,

or

Mulatto,

basically

trading

skin

color

for

economic

well-being.

Second,

many of the large land tracts existed far away from governmental control;

owners were often “above the law,” and did what they pleased, including taking

sexual

favors

and/or

concubines.

Third,

even

White

women

in

Latin

America

may

have had lower social status than their European sisters, perhaps because of

the

presence

of

so

many

non-European

women.

European-based

ideas

about

female

rights to owning and inheriting property could do only so much in an

environment of relative lawlessness in which few people had much property

10

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