Natalia Cobo
Universidad del Cauca


This article explores the relationship between racial privilege and intelligence with the consolidation of a national project in Colombia during the 19th century as a backdrop. Based upon the narratives of some prominent 19th-century literate people, we intend to argue that intelligence will become significant in the rhetoric dictating that criollo whites were the ones that deserved to occupy privileged positions in power by virtue of their skills and abilities. In the context of a new social order, with colonial rationale having been challenged by various segments of population, intelligence was useful to support the idea of an allegedly merit-based system, which served to conceal racial prejudices legitimating the pre-eminence of a population segment over the rest.

Keywords: racial privilege, whiteness, intelligence, social inequality, 19th century.