My name is Connor, I’m a fourth year English literature major, and I’ve chosen LAST 100 as one of my final electives. My interest in this course comes from the fact that I know relatively little about the history of Latin America. Most of my knowledge comes from literature, particularly Gabriel Garcia Marquez. There are also a handful of historical events and figures related to Latin America that I am interested by. This includes people like Emiliano Zapata and the Mexican Revolution, or Oliver North and the Iran-Contra affair.
The first student video that I watched was entitled “Citizenship and Rights in the New Republics III” by Jane Park, Sara Pastro, Maria Saldana, and Daniela Toro. One of the most interesting aspects about this video was the fact that even after the abolition of slavery, one was not necessarily free to practice their own religion. This raises the question of what constitutes liberation. While the abolition of slavery should be seen as a step towards freedom, a wage system, for example, doesn’t necessarily mean an end to the exploitation of workers. Discrimination due to religious beliefs that are not in line with those imported by colonialists is a means of controlling people without shackles; the net effect is not so different. As the video goes on to explain, the church did begin to function as an organ of oppression with it’s firm stance against women’s emancipation. The monopoly of influence held by the church in this instance can be seen in the fact that it was able to conjure up regulations that would be enforced by the state, in this case limiting the amount of instances in which people of the opposite sex could be in contact with one another. If the church had this ability, I’m curious as to what other ways the colonial hegemony within the Americas was maintained.
The second video that I watched was called “Independence in Latin America” by Melissa Prado, Jorge Porter, Adrian Gonzalez, Tabatha Marin, and Karen Poveda. I thought this video did a good job of exploring what it means to be independent as a society or nation. Particularly interesting was the role of circumstance in the early waves of independence in Latin America; that a weakening in Spanish rule was quickly met with revolution. Had Spain enjoyed a more favorable economic/political position during the Napoleonic Wars, how different would this moment have looked?