Sample Essay Paper on Latin America

Latin America

Q 1: Race, gender, as well as religion provide a sense of individual as well as collective identity. Describe how socio-economic factors and racial perceptions have shaped the development of “Indo-Latin America.”

            Socio-economic factors and racial perceptions have influenced the development of “Indo-Latin America” identity in several ways. Firstly, the patriarchy system has enabled the males to dominate both the public and private spheres. This has contributed to the region’s increasing levels of violence against women, which is also understood as form of male domination. Religion is another important factor that has shaped the development of Indo-Latin America identity. For example, 93 percent of the region’s population consider themselves as Christians, with 80 percent of them being Roman Catholics. Furthermore, about 28 percent of the world’s Catholics live in Latin America, with Brazil having the largest number of baptized Roman Catholics worldwide. Racial perceptions have also contributed to the development of Indo-Latin America’s identity. The perceptions that mixed-race was socially and religiously unacceptable made marriage among mixed-race far less common. Marriage was also less common among the poor people as weddings were very expensive, hence were not documented. The church considered children from such marriages as illegitimate; hence it mainly served the interests of the upper class individuals and their families. The spread of commercial agriculture has affected gender roles. Most men take part in paid labor, while many women have continued to work in the domestic sphere where they are rarely paid for their labor.      

Q 2: How has identity in “Afro-Latin America” been socially constructed in countries like Brazil?

            The identity in Afro-Latin America has been socially constructed through interracial marriages, cultural festivals, and development of new religions that uphold both the traditional African and Latin America traditional practices. For instance, the descendants of African slaves who were taken to Latin America to work as slaves during the past centuries have continued to disappear into the mainstream population due to high levels of interracial and mixed-race marriages. For instance, in Brazil, a significant part of the population has a skin tone that can be associated with people from both the African and Latin America regions. The blending of Catholicism and traditional African religions resulted in the emergence of new religions such as Candomble, which largely identify Catholic saints with African deities. Cultural festivals, such as Brazil’s Samba carnival tradition is another important socially constructed Afro-Latin America identity. The samba tradition evolved from the fusion of the former slave’s dance and music with that of the Latin American people. It has developed to become part of Brazil’s national identity.             

Q 3: In what ways, have gender roles in Latin America affected the lives of women in the region?

            Gender roles in Latin America have affected the lives of women in the region through limiting their decision-making authority in both private and public spheres of life. For instance, the gender-based division of labor has forced most Latin American women to work in the informal sector, where they earn little or nothing at all. The Latin America society largely believes that a woman should work within the homestead. Since domestic activities are mostly not paid for, these women have continued experience income inequalities and have continued to depend on men for support. The males’ gender role as the protector of the society has worked to put women under men’s control. This has also kept women away from political positions associated with protection roles, such as formulation and passing of legislations, thereby leaving most women out of women empowerment efforts. This has encouraged increase in gender inequalities and injustices against women.       

Q 4: How have race and gender been reflected in Latin America’s religious landscape?

            Race and gender have been reflected in Latin America’s religious landscape. For example, the extensive spread of Catholicism and the value they place on Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, have significantly influenced the gender roles played by the Latin American women. Most of these women constantly try to emulate the virtues and qualities that were exhibited by Virgin Mary. As a result of this, these women have become obedient to the fathers and men heading households, as they strive to heighten their womanhood. Race has been reflected in Latin America’s religious landscape through the blending of Christianity practices with the traditional African religious practices. The Candomble is a good example of a religion that resulted from such blending. Latin American people practicing this religion have been identifying catholic saints with African deities. Furthermore, while the majority of Latin Americans consider themselves Christians, some have emphasized they are Roman Catholics. Others simply reject the word “Roman” and simply call themselves Catholics.