This week we have looked at casta paintings and the colonial experience. I found the casta paintings really interesting because they represented the social hierarchy found in Latin America at the time. At first, I tried to search for any signs that casta paintings might’ve had the intention of celebrating diversity by showing the different combinations. I am aware that this idea might not have been a common way of thinking at the time however, I thought it was an idea worth exploring. Unfortunately, I believe that the result of these paintings was quite the opposite. These paintings were an attempt to capture the different family unions in society. They often made certain unions appear less desirable to society. The paintings portrayed Spanish as educated and professional, while they showed other mixed races such as mestizos, mulattos, etc as lower class. While people must’ve thought it was true at the time, I can’t help but wonder if seeing these paintings encouraged people to be openly racist to others or if they had little effect on people’s everyday lives. And if they did not, why do we still discuss them and learn about their importance today? Also, if they were displayed at work places and prestigious institutions, would they have had a bigger impact on certain people as opposed to other people who perhaps did not visit these places frequently?
When social hierarchy is determined by race, it makes it almost impossible for people to move up and prosper. Your race is something you are simply born with and is completely out of your control. I think it’s disheartening that no matter what your attributes and accomplishments are, a large part of society will ignore that and will simply notice whether you are mestizo, chino, mulatto, etc. Labels, have incredible power over people. I think Catalina de Erauso is a really good example of a person trying to escape labels. I thought the section assigned was a really engaging reading. Although her story is told quite fast, there is so much detail there. It really captures her desire to change her life and be able to be her true self. I thought she was quite brave to escape everything she had known without having any sort of plan other than to let herself “be carried off like a feather in the wind.” What I found really surprising was that there was not any type of punishment given by either the church or the Crown once she admitted what she had been doing. I would’ve thought they would have seen this as a great and punishable offence. Whatever the case was, Catalina’s story was still interesting to read and learn about.