Constructs of race are the result of colonial enterprises and thought. Since the Spanish and Portuguese invasion of what we now call ‘Latin America,’ class, social economy, and cultural habits became important factors to categorize social groups into different ‘races.’ In this process, visual culture supported and shaped meanings of ‘race’ through the representation of human subjects and bodies. Dress, in particular, became an essential aspect of the classification of people into racial categories and their representation. These readings offer an introduction to the representation of race in Early Modern Latin America, particularly during the colonial period (roughly 16th–early 19th centuries).

Painting: Detail of "Miguel Cabrera, 6. De español y morisca, albina (6. From Spaniard and Morisca, Albina Girl)," 1763. Oil on canvas, 131.13 × 105.09 cm (51 5/8 × 41 3/8 in). Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Detail of “Miguel Cabrera, 6. De español y morisca, albina (6. From Spaniard and Morisca, Albina Girl),” 1763. Oil on canvas, 131.13 × 105.09 cm (51 5/8 × 41 3/8 in). Los Angeles County Museum of Art.