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5119 - Immigration and Assimilation in Latin America in a Global Perspective

This paper proposes the following arguments. Although it is true that every region of our planet outside of Eastern Africa was populated by emigrants and their descendants, Latin America, and the Americas in general, are unique in that they were populated last and by arrivals from every other continent. Transcontinental migrations and the resulting condition of pluriraciality produced, somewhat paradoxically, high levels of homogenization. One could say that the Americas are the most multiracial and the least multicultural region of the world. Latin America, however, contains a greater diversity of demographic and cultural regional combinations than Anglo North America. It has societies of European settlement similar to those in the north of the United States and Canada, mainly in temperate South America but also in many other more contained regions. It has concentrations of African population—in northeastern Brazil, the Caribbean, and parts of the Pacific coast—like in the U.S. South but in most cases at a higher relative level both demographically and in terms of the presence of African cultural traits. And it contains the principal Amerindian areas of the Hemisphere in Mesoamerica and the central Andes. The paper therefore examines the role of European colonialism and post-colonial mass migration in the historical development of the various ethno-racial regions of Latin America and in the production of levels of cultural homogeneity and/or assimilation that are strikingly high by global standards.

Keywords: migration, assimilation, global history, colonialism

Author: Moya, Jose (Barnard College, Columbia University, Ud States of Am / USA)

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