The Colonial Experience

I first clicked the Lieutenant Nun reading link on our LAST website and stared into the eyes of this man in this portrait. I thought nothing of it and continued reading the introduction to the story or article, whatever you want to call it. I finished reading the introduction and forgot about the portrait by the end of it, until I scrolled to the top of the page, for a reason I do now forget. And then that’s when I saw the portrait again and did a double take. I was staring into the eyes of a ‘woman’ yet I was so blown away by the way this figure as presented. This figure was presented as a war hero, just in this photo as at this point I had yet to continue onto the diary of this woman. For this to be the case, this woman cross dressing and acting like a war hero in the 1600’s is barely comprehensible and seems to burn every idea I had about gender roles in the many centuries of the past. Sure this was not the norm, I do recognize that fact, but if we look at the way history is presented to us there could be an answer. Because most history in pop culture  is presented from the perspective of a white-British or American or French man, sometimes there must be ideas that go against that belief. For a Spanish female to cross dress as a man and take on the life of a man, does seem quite extraordinary, however we should not be in a position to the this as a one off. Maybe some of these European societies and middle-Eastern societies did more role playing than what we know, or what I know (it would be nice if a history trivial could help me out and maybe prove me wrong!). When reading it caught my attention that this woman was raised by nuns and raised around other woman, and then it was unsurprising to me that she may have made that choice because of her personal experiences.

When I started the video about Casta, the first thing that really caught my attention was when the presenter told us that these paintings were popular in Mexico. We are just in week 3 and have yet to construct what ‘Latin America’ is but I keep getting clues as to what it might be. I have always had my own thoughts about what/where Latin America is, but because I am not an expert I still do not want to make conclusions. Though it still seems like an easy answer , these hints help me prepare for when I come to class. I also thought it was interesting to see how much of a role racism and sexism payed in Casta’s paintings. I just finished reading about a woman portraying a man for her whole life, and then there is this artist who used racism and sexism as the focal point for his work. Quite interesting to see the two sides of the times.

If Catalina de Erauso was an American or British figure who took on the transition role in one of those respected countries (for the purpose of the question being really simple lets use the term ‘country’) during the same time period, do you believe the Church would have shown the same leniency?

One Reply to “The Colonial Experience”

  1. I felt the same way as you did when reading the “Lieutenant Nun”. At first, I figured it was some army person’s last name. Quite amazing that de Erauso could ‘pull it off’ so well given that her upbringing was around women. I am completely fascinated by this character…but for the reasons the introduction said not to be fascinated!


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