Exploring the history and experiences of mixed heritage persons and inter-racial relationships across the world


Map of ArgentinaHistorians are debating whether deliberate genocide or circumstances are the reason why Argentina boasts such a small ethnic population.  Both Amerindian and Afro-Argentinians make up about 5% of the population which will also explain the fairly low 8% of the population that self-report as being of Mestizo origins.  Non-white Argentinians experience varying degrees of perceived racism and so this figure needs to be treated with caution as many light Mulattos (black/white mix) and Mestizos (Amerindian/white mix) pass for white or trigueño (a dark skin white person), and are careful not to associate themselves with the Afro-Argentine or the indigenous community.

Argentina is an immigrant country with some 85% of the population claiming European ancestry.  Despite the fact it was originally a Spanish colony up to independence in 1816 and following an independence war, the Italian population in Argentina is the second largest in the world outside of Italy, after Brazil.  The Italians are the largest European group, followed by the Spanish but there are sizeable other groups from France, Germany and Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland and the United Kingdom.  Additionally, Argentina's Jewish population is the fifth largest in the world.  Approximately 5% of the population are Middle Eastern and East Asian from recent migrations from that part of the world and usually regarded as 'white' in Argentinian society.

Recent genetic studies reveal that the genetic average admixture of the Argentinian population contains 80 % of European contribution, 15% Amerindian and 4% African.  This small African contribution is supported by the results of a census conducted in 2006 in two neighbourhoods where 5% of the population knew of African ancestry, and another 20% thought that was possible but not sure.  Most of the European genetic heritage has come from the paternal (father) genetic contribution and the Amerindian coming from the maternal side - seen in the mitochondrial DNA - of present day Argentinians.  This is in line the Spanish colonial practise of men taking local wives.  Over the years, the Argentinian tendency to the European has meant that the physical appearance of the people lost any semblance of native or African ancestry.

Over six million European immigrants arrived in Argentina between 1857 and 1950.  Whilst it is hard to quantify, the largest intermixing will be between European groups.  Relatively recent inter-racial miscegenation though has occurred with the Japanese, another group of immigrants who arrived starting in the 1910s.  Over 75% of the 4th Generation of Japanese-Argentines are of mixed European and Japanese descent and many of them are losing the phenotypical (physical) expression of their Japanese ancestry.  In Japan, most commonly used label and preferred term of self-definition for mixed race people is 'hafu' which comes for the English word half but this does not appear to be the case in Argentina.

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