Legon Journal of the Humanities

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Race, taxonomies, and proverbs in Latin American and the Caribbean Discourse

Maimouna Sankhé


This paper analyzes how race, taxonomies, and proverbs in Latin American and Caribbean societies are interrelated. These taxonomies and proverbs which first gained currency during the 19th century when the now discredited notion of scientific racism was in vogue, contributed to dehumanizing the others of colonial conquest in the Americas, including the Blacks and Native Americans. This paper, however, mainly focuses on the experiences of the Blacks and demonstrates how the prejudices resulting from colonial era cultural transactions determined and continue to determine the nature of taxonomies and proverbs in Latin America. This paper will situate its findings on the propositions of Édouard Glissant, Fernando Ortiz and José Vasconcelos on race, taxonomies and ethnicity in Latin America and the Caribbean. This paper concludes that such denominations, taxonomies or sayings were created by the hegemonic culture with the sole aim of dominating the populations involved as well as subjugating them to ill-treatment. The study also makes it obvious that there are many expressions that were born within a colonial context and yet have survived over time, and continue to appear in literature and popular parlance.

AJOL African Journals Online