This article aims to clarify the logics that governed operations of identification and claims to personal identity under the early modern Spanish Monarchy by contextualizing them within ancien régime legal culture. It analyses the sources produced by the Juzgados de bienes de difuntos (Tribunals of property of deceased persons), responsible for adjudicating successions of uncertain attribution and verifying the identity and kinship of those involved in inheritance transmissions on a global scale. Rather than adopting an evolutionist interpretation of “proof of identity,” this paper seeks to understand its development, starting from the observation that before the late eighteenth century legal personality was conceived as a possession—that is, as a thing that was owned and actively claimed by its use, publicly exercised and acknowledged. It will be shown that identity was held, like any other right, through “acts of possession” and not simply through title deeds, which were instead seen as a way of transcribing acts of possession of status. The article therefore suggests that in the early modern era it was necessary to continually produce proof of one’s identity, not only because of inadequate bureaucratic procedures and data archiving practices, but above all due to a different relation to the “thing of identity,” or, in other words, a different way of “possessing personhood.”

« Tener persona ». Sur identité et identification dans les sociétés d’ancien régime

alessandro buono
2020

Abstract

This article aims to clarify the logics that governed operations of identification and claims to personal identity under the early modern Spanish Monarchy by contextualizing them within ancien régime legal culture. It analyses the sources produced by the Juzgados de bienes de difuntos (Tribunals of property of deceased persons), responsible for adjudicating successions of uncertain attribution and verifying the identity and kinship of those involved in inheritance transmissions on a global scale. Rather than adopting an evolutionist interpretation of “proof of identity,” this paper seeks to understand its development, starting from the observation that before the late eighteenth century legal personality was conceived as a possession—that is, as a thing that was owned and actively claimed by its use, publicly exercised and acknowledged. It will be shown that identity was held, like any other right, through “acts of possession” and not simply through title deeds, which were instead seen as a way of transcribing acts of possession of status. The article therefore suggests that in the early modern era it was necessary to continually produce proof of one’s identity, not only because of inadequate bureaucratic procedures and data archiving practices, but above all due to a different relation to the “thing of identity,” or, in other words, a different way of “possessing personhood.”
Buono, Alessandro
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11568/1025110
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