Throughout the Spanish Empire of the 16th-19th centuries, immigrants from the same regional, cultural or national origin tended to create associations of their own in most of the cities and ports in which these immigrant groups had formed colonies. One of the distinctive features of these institutions is that almost all of them were linked to the Catholic Church, usually in the form of religious confraternities or brotherhoods under the name or protection of a particular saint or devotion linked to their places of origin. Before the creation of the modern day meaning of nation and ethnicity, these immigrant communities were primarily based on the medieval concept of nation which is deeply ingrained with Catholicism in the case of the Basque territories. In this article, using the Basque case we will attempt to: a) present a general view of the creation, evolution and common features of these institutions; b) describe their principal activities and aims, namely to protect and promote mutual aid among members, as well as to protect the distinctiveness of their cultural heritage and the attachment to the land they or their ancestors came from; c) understand the role these institutions played as gateways to better integrate their members and co-nationals into host societies; and d) contextualize the terms and definitions frequently used to describe the behavior of immigrant communities within the character of European and American societies in the modern era.
Alvarez Gila, Oscar PhD and Angulo Morales, Alberto PhD
"Between Trade, Religion and Ethnicity: The Catholic Church's Ethnic Institutions in the Spanish Empire, 16th-19th Centuries,"
BOGA: Basque Studies Consortium Journal:
2, Article 5.
Available at: http://scholarworks.boisestate.edu/boga/vol1/iss2/5