Week 8 Thoughts

The way in which the rural people used the new technologies to generate a united front against the central government reminds me of the current use of digital technology to gain momentum in the movements for social equality. In both of these instances, technology creates a greater front, involving people who would have been previously excluded from the efforts.

This chapter is interesting because it emphasizes the importance of looking at historical events from many different perspectives. Even people coming from the same place will have starkly different opinions. This is evident in this week’s documents and in the nature of the seemingly endless Mexican Revolution.

I was quite surprised as I was reading José Vasconcelos’ excerpt from La raza cosmica. It gets at the complex class systems of Latin America. We have talked about how class was based on a number of different components in Latin America, not just race. Vasconcelos insists that the highest form of humanity is the most beautiful, regardless of race: “We would feel no repugnance at all if it were the union of a black Apollo and a blond Venus”. Somehow “inferior races” could be “improved”. There is a contrast between the positivity of having this patriotic and independent sentiment about Mexico and the negativity of the racism and superiority. He also emphasizes the importance of Christianity, which is interested because it originated in Mexico from the influence of the Spanish: those that he rejects as imperfect. Dawson mentions that is important to look at Vasconcelos’ writings as a product of his time, but I can’t imagine that his opinions were reflective of the general population. You can dismiss the racism as part of the time, however there will be people in today’s time that think the same way as him, however this is thought of as unacceptable.

I like the José Carlos Mariátegui’s Marxist perspective. This excerpt from his essay exemplifies how Vasconcelos’ opinion was not universal, therefore cannot just be seen as a product of the time. I agree with his idea that the concept of a superior race was used by the white man for conquest, but I think it goes further than that. Vasconcelos’ view, like other

racist’s views are used for the purpose of elevated themselves, similar to the conquistadores.

It interests me that Mariátegui advocates for the education of indigenous people in boarding schools and public schools established by the government. I always thought that this was an imperialistic practice to assimilate indigenous children into white culture.

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