In this seminar we shall discuss the different meanings of native status in Spanish America. Prof. Herzog argues that the classification of Indigenous peoples as 'natives' was not meant to reflect a reality of indigeneity as many have assumed, but instead was geared towards attributing them with a particular legal status, which in Peninsular Spain was reserved to members of the political community (naturales). It operated to de-ethnicized the Indians by implying, on the one hand, that they would lose their previous condition as members of various distinct human groups transforming them instead into participants in a common patria (the Americas) and, on the other, that rather than being classified by the traditional ties that united them to one another and to their previous lords, they would become civic members of a community that no longer depended on descent. While in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries Indians were de- and re-classified, American Spaniards – who initially were the quintessential foreigners – were gradually transformed into natives and Peninsular Spaniards were presented as aliens. By the end of this process, rather than creating two republics that clearly separated colonized from colonizers, what colonialism did was to turn the world upside down. It de-naturalized natives while making some Europeans (but not all) the true legal possessors of a world, which they invaded but which they now claimed as rightfully their own.
Tamar Herzog, "The Appropriation of Native Status: Forming and Reforming Insiders and Outsiders in the Spanish Colonial World", Rg 22 (2014), http://rg.rg.mpg.de/en/article_id/934