What I found to be particularly interesting after reading the writings of Dawson, Bolívar, Martí and Chávez, was the recurring themes that each of the writers were expressing in their works. Even though Chávez was from a much more modern perspective than the others, he nonetheless references the thoughts of Bolívar on Latin America’s destiny for greatness whilst concentrating more on the detrimental effect of Neoliberalism. Chávez also took Bolívar’s basic ideas and spun them in a more nationalist way of thinking, which I think was more appealing to the Venezuelan people at this time. Whilst all of them continually reference the fact that the colonialists were underestimating the people over which they ruled. Martí’s writing was very appealing due to the stirring nature of his will that all Latin America needed was a passionate community instilled with togetherness, and this could be the catalyst for change. I also was curious in Martí’s idea that a ruler or ruling must entail a deep understanding and familiarity of the local people’s culture and society in order for it to remain successful.
On the subject of independence, it was interesting to learn about all the violence and instability that became of Latin America as a result of Spanish rule reaching its conclusion. I would assume, as I’m sure many would, that with the end of their rule over the region that there would have been a period of stability and neutrality. It is interesting to ask oneself at this point in time whether governance and politics in general would have been improved in Latin America if they had been influenced by the spread of liberalism, in the same way, that Europe had been at this time. Furthermore, I believe it could be said that Bolívar simply put too much of his concentration on the process and getting to the point of independence, rather than what would have to be done after this was achieved. It was because of these reasons that he saw his much-craved independence not reach the heights he had dreamed of.
Lastly from this week, I thoroughly enjoyed reading and learning about the successful Haitian revolution that took place from 1791. After reading of it initially in the syllabus of this week, I then did some further research on the internet and found that it is increasingly being defined by teachers and historians as the turning point of racism in Europe, Africa and the Americas. By initially expelling the French colonists, and then continually defending their freedom, it is remarkable how such a small country managed to be the catalyst for such great change.
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The excerpt of the memoir of la Monja Alferez, titled “The Lieutenant Nun”, was really fascinating because it offered such a hollywood-esque take on an aspect of this era of colonialism. Being a big fan of movies myself, learning about this story of a woman who cut her hair and pretended to be a man, becoming not just a soldier but a conquistador, was unbelievably enthralling. Nonetheless, on the matter of whether Catalina was a rebel or not, I would say that she was in fact not a rebel per say. This is because she was rebelling strictly in the sense that she defied convention by doing something that no other woman would dare to do at that time, yet she did not rebel against the whole system of society or hierarchy entirely due to her stepping into a new hierarchical role. Moreover, the matter in which she was also forgiven and implicitly ignored by the top brass of Spain at that time when she came out, also implies that this was not seen as a hugely momentous act of rebellion that altered anything significantly.
When observing the casta paintings, the first thing that came to me was the idealized way in which they portray Spanish colonial society. It’s almost explicit that they are advertising themselves to those on the outside of their society and colonial culture. More particularly, they are advertising the harmonious restructured society in which the people live, contrary to what someone may have perceived as pure slavery. Yet, importantly, it is nonetheless apparent that the paintings spread a message of harmony in cohesion with hierarchy. Looking at these paintings and reading about them gives us some indication as to the thinking at that time of the people within the Spanish Empire. Personally, I believe some paintings are better than others simply due to the way in which they portray the relationship between the pureblood Spaniards and the mixed-race “others”. To conclude on this topic, I would make the final observation that the casta paintings are another piece of evidence for the argument that art is powerful enough to extend beyond boundaries and can affect people in all sorts of ways both politically and in social-commentary.
My question for this week is related to the story of Catalina de Erauso, and even though it is hard to find out personal motivations for such a story, I would still ask the question of what is exactly was her motivations for carrying out such a defiant act? I think that this question is particularly important because it would help to identify and analyze with increased thoroughness the extent to which Catalina was a rebel or not.
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As stated in the weekly lecture video, 1492 is a date that resonates around the world strongly. The arrival of Christopher Columbus and his people in October 1492 to the Americas is what separates world history from its pre-Latin American narrative to the current post-Latin American world. Personally, I can’t help but find it somewhat humorous that this was such a dramatic stamp on global history itself, and yet Columbus had no idea what he had done. Instead, he thought he had found another route to the East Indies, bypassing the Muslim influence on the routes that were commonly used to that region.
It is interesting to consider, particularly after reading the Columbus journal and the translation of Guamán Poma’s writings, the exact intricacies of this “discovery”. For example the fact that both men were in some way attempting to please their respective hierarchies by speaking of grand historical findings and exaggerating certain aspects of culture that they have witnessed. All of these things considered, it makes one wonder how much limitation there is to these primary sources.
After reading Columbus’ journal, I was made aware as to the more villainous aspects of his character and story. Such as his tendency to repeatedly lie to his men and the native peoples whom he encountered, all in order to appease them or manipulate them to his benefit. For example, in his remarks about when they explained the nature of their bodily scars, his first thought is to surmise that they must be “good servants”. Moreover, his insistence on imposing Christianity upon them does not cast him in a very good light, however, it is also true that this would have been on precise orders from the royalty under which he served. It is interesting to read all of these things because it is so contrary to anything I have heard or learned about his heroism in the past.
In conclusion, I found it to be a very valuable experience to be able to read Columbus’ own words from his journal as a primary source. More personally, as I said previously, my own opinion of Columbus was changed significantly as a result of this. As for Guamán Poma’s writings, I found it to be more poignant in its balancing of description of both natives and the “discoverers”. I had no prior knowledge of the exact brutal treatment that the Inca’s were subject to and so reading Poma’s writings was valuable in that sense for me. I suppose an interesting question to pose would be: To what degree did religion influence the way in which the natives were treated? As well as this, one could also ask in what ways could the nature of Columbus’ discovery have changed were it not for the influence of religion and the royalty?
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My name is Antonin and I’m a second-year student in this Last 100 class. I’m hoping to major in History, and so I’m really interested in taking courses that are related to history in different aspects. This course really interested me because it approaches such a specific subject in such a broad variety of ways, not just through a historical lens.
This video I found was hard to maintain interest in because of the long pauses and time it took to change between pictures for each piece of information. Although the subject was rather interesting on the origin and dissection of what a caudillo is, it was still difficult to be actively engaged in the material. Nonetheless, I think that the use of drawings and paper to convey pieces of information was a nice change from seeing a person speak on camera.
The War on Drugs 2015:
Although the narration of the video was at times a little incoherent, the subject matter was really interesting and well done. The way that the subject is approached is excellent because it gives a clear outline of different time periods and the main events during that period. Another aspect of this video that I really liked was the interviews that one of the group members carried out with a Colombian person whose family was there at the time of the events that are described. This gives a valuable insight into a more personal internal dimension of the stories that are perhaps well known around the world.
The Terror 2014:
I really enjoyed this video because I found the content and subject matter to be very interesting. The use of narration was effective because it was laid over relevant footage of events and people at that time, which I found to be really engaging. It is almost like watching a professionally made documentary in the way in which the narrator describes events as real-life footage is shown over the top. Moreover, the narration is not too long and overcomplicated but is rather easy to follow and the information is simple enough to digest. Overall the style in which the video was made makes it really effective and interesting.
Speaking Truth to Power 2014:
I found this video to be the hardest to properly follow simply because I was not engaged enough in it. The lack of visualization made it hard to really picture the information being given out and also it meant that the focus was entirely on the group members faces when speaking which I found to be rather distracting. Additionally, the poor sound and video quality are both unfortunate because obviously, this was unintentional, yet they still dramatically take away from the potential of the video and its content. The actual information being spoken is interesting at times and the topic of the influence of power and fear in ruling within Latin America easily arouses curiosity within the listener.
These were my short analyses of my two favorite and two least favorite videos out of the 6 that I watched, as well as my short introduction about myself.
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