The Meeting of Two Worlds-Student Video Response

I began by watching the video entitled “The meeting of two world Aztec edition” because often I find the story of Latin American is told only from the point at which Spaniards arrived. I appreciated the portrayal of the discoveries of Columbus through an indigenous lens. The review on the interactions of Columbus and Montezuma II stressed the drastically different moral, cultural and practical beliefs held by each party. When studying colonization it is paramount to remember how deeply the conquistadors misunderstood the land and people they were overtaking. Perhaps more importantly the video points out how disinterested colonizers were in understanding. They considered themselves entitled to any of the gifts given, they took generosity on the part of the indigenous people to be worship. Anything that was not given could be readily taken. This included people who quickly became a commodity.

It is worth taking time to consider the complexity of Latin American indigenous society when taking into account those who came to “civilize” it. The Aztec empire was a pinnacle of cleanliness and technology, the aqueducts in the city being a single example.¬† Remembering the sophistication of ancient Latin American¬† guards from the perception of indigenous Latin American society as a rudimentary settlement punctuated by occasional violence. This perception however untrue is how colonizers understood new territory and how the colonial world has continued to understand Latin America. The countries and cultures described as Latin American are frequently stereotyped as violent, misogynistic and otherwise problematic societies. In the United States in particular all those who leave Latin American countries are often seen as having “escaped” into a better life. Colonialism has deep and lasting consequences.

The second video I watched entitled the “Meeting of Two Worlds III”¬† I saw as a sequel to the video I’ve just previously discussed. It points out from the beginning that Columbus was out to find and take gold and spices. In his writings Columbus does not spare thought for those he might come across. It was assumed that anything found was for the taking by divine and royal right. One of the most poignant symbols of domination comes in the form of renaming islands. Decisive actions such as this one were part of the reworking of a vibrant, thriving territory in order to fit the assumed design of a God who to the Indigenous people did not exist. Columbus was able to declare possession of the Islands as the natives watched on, which speaks to the person hood or lack thereof which he attributed to these peoples. Colonizers described Indigenous people as simple and pleasing, as you might an animal. They could not conceive that a people so below their own stature and intelligence could lay any claim to their land. It cannot be forgotten that the conquistador mindset was always geared towards superiority and control.

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One Response to The Meeting of Two Worlds-Student Video Response

  1. Elena

    I was also very interested in learning about pre-colonial Aztec society, which isn’t something that is usually talked about. Many of us in this class seem to have a similar experience with Columbus, where we called him a hero as a child but were taught a much more nuanced and complex version when we were older. Yet even as we recognize the need to tell a more complete story in relation to Columbus and colonialism, most schools don’t see a need to tell a more complete story of the people who were colonized. Before watching the video, I never would have guessed at how advanced some parts of the Aztec’s society was. In some ways, such as public health, it even surpassed Europe, yet I was always taught only of Europe’s technological superiority. I think this shows how much farther schools need to go if they’re truly committed to telling a full and fair history of colonialism.

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