Race and nation. On ius sanguinis and the origins of a racist national perspective

Until the beginning of the nineteenth century, the ius soli was the default common standard to acquire citizenship in Europe. Its roots – which were ultimately developed by the Middle Ages’ glossators and commentators – were interconnected with the notion of sovereignty and had a working simplicity that avoided the generation of stateless people in various territories of the early modern European states. With the promulgation of the Code Napoléon this finally came to change with the introduction of the ius sanguinis as the main criterion to recognise nationality. Its imposition was against the whole of the Western legal tradition – one preserved in the Americas because of the independence processes the different colonies experienced from their earlier metropolis – the main scholarship that influenced the code and even the wishes of Napoleón. What made the codifying commission adopt such an unusual standard? The author of this article tries to establish that the emergence of the first essays on what came to be known as scientific racism – a dark science, which tends to explain national character in terms of genetic heritage – was at the very base of this development.

Carlos Amunátegui Perelló, Race and nation. On ius sanguinis and the origins of a racist national perspective, Fundamina : A Journal of Legal History, 2018.