Immigration in Latin America
- LAST REVIEWED: 05 May 2017
- LAST MODIFIED: 28 October 2011
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0075
- LAST REVIEWED: 05 May 2017
- LAST MODIFIED: 28 October 2011
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0075
Immigration is arguably the most distinguishing historical feature of Latin America, and of the Western Hemisphere in general. Although it can be said that every region of the planet outside of East Africa—the cradle of Homo sapiens—is a region of immigrants, that label applies to the Americas in a particular way. The American continent/s (it is perceived as a single continent in Latin America and as two in the United States) has functioned as a receptacle for the population of every other continent. Its aboriginal population could be described as the first (Asian) immigrants, since they arrived not from humanity’s cradle but from northeast Asia, and did so twenty thousand years after much of the rest of the planet had been settled. The Americas are a New World not only in the usage of the term associated with the Eurocentric notion of “discovery” but also in relation to the history of humanity. The other immigrants arrived even more recently. Sixty million Europeans, eleven million Africans, and five million Asians arrived in the Western Hemisphere after 1492, with close to one-third of the Europeans (or 18.5 million), half of the Africans, and one-sixth of the Asians going to Latin America. These transcontinental migrations shaped the ethnic geography of the Americas. The first migrants from Asia settled mainly on the highlands that run along the western side of the hemisphere, particularly what has been called “nuclear America,” or Mesoamerica and the central Andes. These regions contained the vast majority of the Amerindian population before the conquest and continue to do so today. Africans were taken mainly to the tropical and semitropical islands and coastal lowlands of the Americas. Europeans dispersed to a greater degree but nonetheless concentrated, particularly during the postcolonial period, in the temperate regions on the northern and southern ends of the hemisphere. Since other articles in this collection treat the Amerindian and African population, this article will center on immigration from Europe and Asia and on international migrations within Latin America.
Moya 2008 and Mörner and Sims 1985 are the only two overviews of migration to, from, and within Latin America from the colonial period to the present. Klein 1999 offers a briefer but broad take on immigration to Latin America that does not include intraregional international movements but does include a comparison to the United States. Moya 2006 also takes a hemispheric perspective and connects migration to shifts in socioeconomic development. This section also includes an Atlantic perspective that incorporates Argentina and Brazil (Nugent 1995), an overview of western Mediterranean migrations to South America (Carmagnani 1994), and a summary of the Asian presence in Latin America (Hu-deHart and López 2008).
Carmagnani, Marcello. Emigración mediterránea y América: Formas y transformaciones, 1860–1930. Colombres, Asturias: Fundación Archivo de Indianos, 1994.
An analysis of the exodus from Spain, Italy, and, to a lesser degree, Portugal during the period of mass migrations, with the emphasis on demographic, economic, and political transformations in the countries of origin rather than on the adaptation of the emigrants in their destinations.
Hu-deHart, Evelyn, and Kathleen López. “Asian Diasporas in Latin America and the Caribbean: An Historical Overview.” Afro-Hispanic Review 27.1 (2008): 9–21.
Brief overview of Asian presence in colonial Latin America; the mass migration of Chinese “coolies” in the 19th century to Cuba and Peru, and their continuing arrivals as free migrants to those two countries and Mexico; Japanese and South Asian immigration; Asian relations with descendants of Africans in the region; and immigrant culture.
Klein, Herb. “Migração internacional na historia das Americas.” In Fazer a América: A imigração em massa para America Latina. Edited by Boris Fausto, 13–32. Sao Paulo: Editorial de la Universidad de São Paulo, 1999.
Discusses push and pull factors; the colonial development of Latin America, the West Indies, and Anglo North America; postcolonial European emigration to the Western Hemisphere up to 1880, its peak between that date and 1914, its decline in the interwar years, and its resurgence after World War II. A coda addresses immigrant socioeconomic mobility and assimilation.
Mörner, Magnus, and Harold Sims. Adventurers and Proletarians: The Story of Migrants in Latin America. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1985.
Overview of voluntary immigration to Spanish America and Brazil during the colonial period, and particularly during the great inflow between the mid-19th century and the Great Depression, with two final chapters on post-1930 movements into, within, and from Latin America. Emphasis is on policies, politics, demography, and economic structures.
Moya, José C. “A Continent of Immigrants: Postcolonial Shifts in the Western Hemisphere.” Hispanic American Historical Review 86.1 (2006): 1–28.
Discusses the connection between mass migration and modernization during the 19th century and the role of European immigration in the reversal of the regional socioeconomic rank of the Americas, as what had been the poorest and most marginal colonies before 1800 became the most economically developed and socially egalitarian countries or regions.
Moya, José C.. “Migration.” In Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture. 2d ed. Edited by Jay Kinsbruner. New York: Charles Scribner’s Son, 2008.
Overview of colonial immigration from Africa and Europe; the process of cultural Iberianization; the mass inflow circa 1850–1930, and its origins, causes, and consequences; the refugee movements into Latin America of the 1930s and 1940s; the revival of immigration in the 1950s and 1960s; and the surge of emigration from Latin America to the United States, Europe, and elsewhere from the 1960s on.
Nugent, Walter. Crossings: The Great Transatlantic Migrations, 1870–1914. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995.
The book’s three parts cover the general demographic and economic trends of the Atlantic world during the period, the situation in the seven principal regions of emigration, and that of the major four American receivers: the United States, Argentina, Canada, and Brazil.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
- Agricultural Technologies
- Andean Contributions to Rethinking the State and the Natio...
- Antislavery Narratives
- Arab Diaspora in Latin America, The
- Argentina in the Era of Mass Immigration
- Argentina, Slavery in
- Argentine Literature
- Army of Chile in the 19th Century
- Asian Art and Its Impact in the Americas, 1565–1840
- Asian-Peruvian Literature
- Baroque and Neo-baroque Literary Tradition
- Bello, Andrés
- Black Experience in Colonial Latin America, The
- Black Experience in Modern Latin America, The
- Borderlands in Latin America, Conquest of
- Bourbon Reforms, The
- Brazilian Northeast, History of the
- Buenos Aires
- Caribbean Philosophical Association, The
- Caribbean, The Archaeology of the
- Cartagena de Indias
- Caste War of Yucatán, The
- Caudillos, 19th Century
- Cádiz Constitution and Liberalism, The
- Chaco War
- Children, History of
- Chile's Struggle for Independence
- Chronicle, The
- Church in Colonial Latin America, The
- Chávez, Hugo, and the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela
- Cinema, Contemporary Brazilian
- Cinema, Latin American
- Colonial Central America
- Colonial New Granada
- Colonial Portuguese Amazon Region, from the 17th to 18th C...
- Contemporary Maya, The
- Costa Rica
- Cárdenas and Cardenismo
- Cuban Revolution, The
- Dependency Theory in Latin American History
- Development of Architecture in New Spain, 1500–1810, The
- Development of Painting in Peru, 1520–1820, The
- Drug Trades in Latin America
- Dutch in South America and the Caribbean, The
- Early Colonial Forms of Native Expression in Mexico and Pe...
- Economies from Independence to Industrialization
- Ecuador, La Generación del 30 in
- El Salvador
- Enlightenment and its Visual Manifestations in Spanish Ame...
- Environmental History
- Era of Porfirio Díaz, 1876–1911, The
- Family History
- Film, Science Fiction
- Football (Soccer) in Latin America
- Gaucho Literature
- Gender in Colonial Brazil
- Gender in Postcolonial Latin America
- Guatemala and Yucatan, Conquest of
- Guatemala City
- Guatemala (Colonial Period)
- Guatemala (Modern & National Period)
- Haitian Revolution, The
- Health and Disease in Modern Latin America, History of
- History, Cultural
- History, Food
- Honor in Latin America to 1900
- Horror in Literature and Film in Latin America
- Human Rights in Latin America
- Immigration in Latin America
- Indigenous Elites in the Colonial Andes
- Indigenous Population and Justice System in Central Mexico...
- Indigenous Voices in Literature
- Japanese Presence in Latin America
- Jewish Presence in Latin America, The
- Las Casas, Bartolomé de
- Latin American Independence
- Latin American Urbanism, 1850-1950
- Law and Society in Latin America since 1800
- Legal History of New Spain, 16th-17th Centuries
- Legal History of the State and Church in 18th Century New ...
- Literature, Argentinian
- Machado de Assis
- Magical Realism
- Maroon Societies in Latin America
- Martí, José, and Cuba
- Mestizaje and the Legacy of José María Arguedas
- Mexican Nationalism
- Mexican Revolution, 1910–1940, The
- Mexican-US Relations
- Mexico, Conquest of
- Mexico, Education in
- Migration to the United States
- Military and Modern Latin America, The
- Military Government in Latin America, 1959–1990
- Military Institution in Colonial Latin America, The
- Modern Decorative Arts and Design, 1900–2000
- Modern Populism in Latin America
- Modernity and Decoloniality
- Musical Tradition in Latin America, The
- Native Presence in Postconquest Central Peru
- New Conquest History and the New Philology in Colonial Mes...
- New Left in Latin America, The
- Novel, Chronology of the Venezuelan
- Novel of the Mexican Revolution, The
- Novel, 19th Century Haitian
- Novel, The Colombian
- Oaxaca, Conquest and Colonial
- Painting in New Spain, 1521–1820
- Paraguayan War (War of the Triple Alliance)
- Pastoralism in the Andes
- Paz, Octavio
- Perón and Peronism
- Peru, Colonial
- Peru, Conquest of
- Peru, Slavery in
- Philippines Under Spanish Rule, 1571-1898
- Photography in the History of Race and Nation
- Political Exile in Latin America
- Popular Culture and Globalization
- Popular Movements in 19th-Century Latin America
- Post Conquest Aztecs
- Post-Conquest Demographic Collapse
- Poverty in Latin America
- Preconquest Incas
- Pre-conquest Mesoamerican States, The
- Pre-Revolutionary Mexico, State and Nation Formation in
- Printing and the Book
- Prints and the Circulation of Colonial Images
- Protestantism in Latin America
- Religions in Latin America
- Revolution and Reaction in Central America
- Rosas, Juan Manuel de
- Sandinista Revolution and the FSLN, The
- Santo Domingo
- Science and Empire in the Iberian Atlantic
- Sexualities in Latin America and the Caribbean
- Slavery in Brazil
- São Paulo
- Spanish and Portuguese Trade, 1500–1750
- Spanish Caribbean In The Colonial Period, The
- Spanish Colonial Decorative Arts, 1500-1825
- Spanish Florida
- Telenovelas and Melodrama in Latin America
- Textile Traditions of the Andes
- 16th-Century New Spain
- Transculturation and Literature
- Trujillo, Rafael
- Tupac Amaru Rebellion, The
- United States and Castro's Cuba in the Cold War, The
- United States and the Guatemalan Revolution, The
- United States Invasion of the Dominican Republic, 1961–196...
- Urban History
- Urbanization in the 20th Century, Latin America’s
- U.S.-Latin American Relations During the Cold War
- Vargas, Getúlio
- Women and Labor in 20th-Century Latin America
- Women in Colonial Latin American History
- Women in Modern Latin American History
- Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas