Race and Ethnicity: Essays in Comparative Sociology

By Pierre L. Van den Berghe | Go to book overview
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Racialism and Assimilation
in Africa and the Americas

The aim of this chapter is to refute a common misconception regarding the relationship between acculturation and miscegenation, on the one hand, and the presence or absence of racial prejudice and discrimination, on the other. Historical evidence from America and Africa makes untenable the notion that cultural assimilation and miscegenation are symptoms or consequences of a tolerant, nonracial ethos among the colonizers; it suggests, rather, that these factors are independently variable. We shall briefly examine the facts, refute partly or wholly several outwardly plausible explanations, and present an alternative thesis.

In outline, the facts are as follows. The Americas emerged from colonialism with a predominantly European culture, except for some of the remoter areas of the northern Andean region, the Amazon Basin, Paraguay, and Guatemala (not to mention smaller Indian pockets in southeastern Mexico, southwestern United States, and elsewhere). This remains true in spite of the fact that appreciable Indian and African influences are readily traceable in the modern national cultures of the Western Hemisphere and that unassimilated Indian minorities persist in most countries. A large

Reprinted from Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 19, no. 4 ( Winter 1963): 424-432.


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