Week Two

“The Columbus story is an allegory, whose true object is missing or displaced.” I had never thought of the discovery of the new world as a myth. I always believed that the discovery of the new world was rightfully attributed to him due to the amount of evidence of his arrival on October 12th, 1492. Yes, I knew he was not aware of the magnitude of his discovery at the time, but nevertheless, in my mind, Cristopher Columbus was always a brave leader who was bound to have stumbled across a legacy one way or the other. However, after watching the video I began to feel like the idea I had of Cristopher Columbus was actually a fraud. Columbus was not a great hero, he was simply lucky. He was a man who was able to set out to sea, with the help of the Spanish crown by promising the crown greater wealth sometime in the future. After reading a section of Guaman Poma de Ayala’s writings on “How two men discovered it, the companion of Columbus, and Candia,” it was clear that Columbus’ voyage was largely fuelled by greed. His motives, although not uncommon, may not be something to celebrate. Specially, when you take into account the savage treatment of the Spaniards towards the Incas. Furthermore,¬†Columbus’ journals often reflect that he was desperate to prove his voyage was not a waste of time. He was not aware of the magnitude of his discovery and was therefore left unchanged by it. This idea got me thinking about whether or not Columbus truly deserves full credit for finding the New World. For example, let’s think of inventions in the sciences field. The telephone is one of the most revolutionary inventions of the modern world and it is attributed to Alexander Graham Bell. Yes, he was able to conduct the first practical phone call in 1875 however, many people had been making significant ¬†advances on how to build the telephone over 30 years before. In sciences, discoveries are usually attributed to whoever had the most impact on the discovery. If we take that into consideration, we may find that there are other candidates who fuelled colonization in the New World more than Columbus did. If the land, and even Columbus himself, were not significantly changed by his arrival then how can he be solely responsible for colonization? I realize the invention of the telephone and the discovery of America are very different concepts but they both describe a process. Colonization cannot be fully attributed to Columbus because it was a gradual change caused by series of historical events. This gives me a whole new perspective on colonization and emphasizes how Latin America is fluid and ever changing.

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