Week Two: “The Meeting of the Two Worlds”
As we have seen in the videos and readings, there is a problem when trying to locate Latin America in a geographical sense. Now, we know that Latin America, more than a place which actually exists, is an idea. Its borders are fluid and what is considered as Latin American keeps changing through time. I often ask myself how much of Español, indigena, or even what other races reside inside me. For once, I know that we, Colombians, are a mixture of races. However, we have been thought to see ourselves as a homogeneous race of mestizos with Spanish ancestry. As a result, I am the mixture, and therefore, the product of pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial history, which in turn had to learn to adapt and experience his culture, or at least, interpret what means to be a Latin American living outside his continent.
Going back to the reading and the video, the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the small island of what is now called the Bahamas, is for many the breaking point of what we know as modernity. It also serves as a cultural, racial, and status marker for Europeans to see themselves as superior, the inner-group, and therefore, as conquistadors. With such declarations, differentiation, and separation (Casta Paintings); they established a system in which to assure their superiority claiming their knowledge as superior and as exclusive from those conquered. By doing so, Europeans created divisive lines which put the new mixing categories in the Americas as less worthy than the Europeans. These previous results of the colonial conquests did not show right away. In fact, these results came to be understood much more lately from when Columbus fists visited the Americas. That is to say that, Christopher Columbus died not completely knowing the extent of this ‘discovery’ and perhaps believing that he arrived to what the thought to be the distant orient.
To be honest, I have studied Christopher Columbus dairy entries and letters before. For instance, I know from previous Spanish and Latin American classes that, Cristobal Colon as he’s known in the Spanish world was an ambitious man who captivated the queen into financing his uncertain voyage to the orient. I also knew that he had previously tried to convinced the king of Portugal to back him up; however, the Portuguese king refused his request and commissioned other sailors to do the same on the side. It was at this precise moments when he visited his religious friends, catholic priests, and asked them to intervene on his behave to gain an audition with Queen Isabel. Furthermore, I find Christopher Columbus’ story to be sad. I say this because, even though we all think of him as being one of the first, if not the only man, who discovered the Americas, he died as a poor man, and worse of all, he died not knowing the extent of his accomplishment.
I think that, one of the things I take from Columbus’ dairies and letters is that, we cannot think of the production of history as one-sided and/or all-encompassing true. Hence, we should think of history not as linear but rather as a multi-dimensional social creation with many ramifications.