Monthly Archives: October 2015

Week Eight

I find it very helpful how Dawson will define terms in a way that he will be discussing them. For example, he defines “revolution” in a way different from what I have ever heard. When I think of “revolution,” I think of a period of time of drastic change: a time of emancipation for specific group people. In the beginning of the conversation with Dawson, he states that “Revolution is a claim of ownership on history.” I find this to be very interesting along with his next statement, that “revolution” is used to define  “an attempt to shape a view of the past that organizes power in the present.” What exactly does he mean by this statement? Are we unable to locate revolution in during its time? Do we need to be in history’s hindsight to label “revolution.”

Anyways, on to something else. It is very strange to note that one’s power may be detrimental to another person or persons. As one gains power, they often strive for more. Noticing rapid development in surrounding countries, leaders feel the need to stay competitive and out of the periphery of surrounding countries. They do so by attempting to build a flourishing economy and by keeping up with new and modern infrastructure (railways, markets, education, etc.). As growth would occurred in certain countries, elites would flourish, widening the social gap. The richer elites would get, the poorer the peasant would get. This inequality often lead to violence, found in Latin America.

Lastly, I would like to mention Argentina. I find their ability to attract such a large number of immigrants crucial to their working class. It is quite interesting how they did not give these immigrants certain rights due to the facts that they “spoke foreign tongues, ate alien food, did not celebrate the national traditions or owe any loyalty to Argentina.” Argentines were afraid of losing their jobs to immigrants, which is the same argument some Americans tend to have in the bordering states with Mexico. Some Americans believe that a reason for tightening the border is that illegal immigrants from Mexicans are stealing jobs from American citizens. Although this may be an issue for some Americans, I have a difficult time believing that this is a crucial reason for tightening the border.

Week #7

In the video that Dawson narrates, “Golden Age of the Export Oligarchy,” he mentions that people living in periphery countries feel certain anxieties different from people living in the “center:” countries that are more modern. He explains how countries of the periphery are countries in which their people feel a sense that they are behind and not on the “cutting-edge.” He uses a more contemporary example by listing Mexico and Cuba as examples of peripheries to the United States, but also mentions Canada being a periphery as well. Growing up near the coast of California and now spending my second year in Vancouver, I do not completely feel this to be true. Maybe I have yet to spend enough time in Canada to feel this sense of anxiety, but I cannot seem to find this to be true as I can believe people of Mexico or Cuba do about their own countries. I come from a pretty modern and industrial city in Orange County, California located just south of Los Angeles, which may often be referred to as the mecca for many things. As I have lived in Vancouver, there has never been a time where I have not been able to find something I was in search of, let alone felt that Canadians were behind in any matter.

I actually feel a little bit of the opposite. I feel, instead, that Canadians would not appreciate being considered a periphery nation to the United States. I think that Canadians are aware that they depend on their southern neighbor for different things as well as export many things to the United States, but I do not think that they feel the sense of anxiety of being “left behind.” When I speak to the Canadian friends I have met through UBC, who range in coming from the east coast to the west coast, I have never once felt that they think I am more modern by any means or come from a more modern country. They seem as if they favor many of the things their country has rather than things the US has to offer, including their governmental system. I think that this sense of anxiety is more a feeling that may develop domestically within Canada as a country or even the United States.

Maybe if you are from a small town in Saskatchewan, you may feel this sense of not being on the “cutting-edge” because your town may not offer functional public transportation or an Apple store that a metropolitan city like Vancouver or Toronto does. I have an uncle who lives somewhere in Kentucky and whenever we speak on the phone, he always mentions this joke of how it takes Kentucky six years to receive all of the “latest” things. I don’t know the exact joke but it is something like that. He is partly kidding when he says it, but he is definitely implying something. To the United States, Kentucky and many more states and cities are the peripheral to places like Los Angeles or New York City. To many, like my uncle, it is a choice of his to live in the peripheral.

Now on to another part of this week’s homework. I found the invention and use of photographs in Latin America to be quite interesting. Photographs seemed to have had a huge influence on modernity in Latin America. Photographs had the ability to show things; they showed documented progress, which then showed modernity through artistic and scientific thought. I found the image of Mexican President, Benito Juarez to be quite interesting. He could use a photograph of himself to “erase” his indigenous past, which would be done and shown through his dress, manner, and profession as president.

Homework #6

I found this week’s homework to be very interesting, which focuses on how people viewed each other in Latin America from the seventeenth century to the nineteenth century. I say the nineteenth century because this is how far our homework extended, although I feel that racial disparities are still apparent in Latin America. I found many similarities between racial conflicts in Latin America and mid-twentieth century United States. Instead of living in society where a hierarchal level of standing was present, people who fulfilled the lower portion of the social ranking favored a society that was horizontal, of rather equal citizenry. “Indian” villages had a difficult time revolting, due to the lack of access to weapons and technology.

By the nineteenth century, John Locke’s labour theory is visible in these “indian” villages. Being a part of these villages, you had certain obligation to the state, but you also received some benefits and legal privileges. You received the right to land, and the right to petition for more land, in the circumstances where your community was growing. Another major privilege was the right to grant access to the Spanish, who they believed could take their land. Like Locke’s labour theory of land, the indigenous people of these villages could provide labour to their land and consider it theirs.

Something I found very interesting was the idea of “scientific racism,” stating that people are placed on the social hierarchy based on their “whiteness.” Scientific racism also includes that these “whites” contained the “cleanest” blood that had been carried within the Old Christian ancestry. “Scientists” built theories as to which biology was destiny, that European whites were at the top of the chain because there was something inherent in their bodies. These “theories” question who were the actual savages of the time. From all that we have read, the indigenous people of the Americas seemed quite modest and, in many ways, thought in a more modern and contemporary way as did the European colonialists.

In the case of crossbreeding, whether it was between a European and an African, an African and a Native American, or any other mix, it did not contribute to a more “proper” and “prosperous” society. These groups were listed as “subjects for extermination,” which reminded me to a more present time: the Holocaust of World War II. It is apparent that racial inequality is still apparent for reasons as absurd during the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth century.

Homework #5

In this week’s lecture, it was once said that “The governing Latin America was like trying to plow this sea.” I have a much better understanding of why this seems to be the case after this weeks lecture. With the rise of liberal ideas in the nineteenth and twentieth century, it gained acceptance in Europe and North America. People from these continents found that working along a social contract, where they gave power to the authority to mediate in exchange for protection and other rights, reasonable in order to live a sustainable life under a systematic government. In Latin America, this was not the case.

Latin America was a very violent place, as it searched for independence and proper governments. In the context of Latin America, Brazilian Cultural Critic, Roberto Schwartz compares liberal ideas to “ornaments,” that they were decorative ideas rather than anything else. He goes on to explain how liberalism is a “misplaces idea” in Latin America. He understands how liberal ideas could properly fit within Europe under industrial capitalism, in a place they are free to sell their labour power, but not in a place like Latina America. He later makes the point that slavery was not abolished in Brazil until 1888. This being the circumstances, that men and women could still be bought and sold, liberalism in Latina America was rather “decorative,” or in other words unrealistic and impossible.

Because liberalism or any other types of government did not flourish in Latin America, it was inevitable for the military to go into rule. This is where the Latin American Caudillos come into play, where men in the military ruled countries in the early twentieth century in the wake of long armed conflicts. Professor Murray asks, in the video lecture, why caudillos were especially popular among the poor and powerless. Being that you can enlist in the military with any financial background, it gave chance to the poor and powerless to rise up. I would believe that people with money and more assets would not be the people to make up the military population, allowing me to think that this was the reason as to why caudillos were popular among the poor and powerless. Schwartz mentions that the caudillos represented as “favor,” but I have to disagree. Instead, it seems as if the caudillos were happy to be placed in the position they grew to become. According to the conflict theory, where all societies have a way of managing with conflict, I believe that the twentieth century caudillos were Latin America’s way of fighting for independence and structure.