Week 2

This week’s content delved into “the meeting of the two worlds” in which Columbus and his crew arrived on what was come to be known as the “New World” and later the “Indies”. I found this particularly interesting as it provided me with more information on a historical event that I have heard a lot about but never had a formal teaching on.

The things that most struck me were:

From the lecture video, the discussion of Todorov’s views on the meeting of two worlds. Todorov views the discovery of America as the invention of modern Europe in the sense that it identifies itself as “not America”. I found this to be such an interesting way to think of modern identities, especially in terms of the place we identify with. Thinking more broadly, this framework also sheds light on how Columbus, his crew and other colonizers from Europe were thinking. They do not identify with this place or its people – they are the “other” or the “not self”. This helps to contextualize how they were able to go about conquering and colonizing. If we think of their actions without this context, they definitely seem quite evil. But at the time, they did not realize what they were doing was wrong in such a dichotic way but rather they were driven by motives of faith and state.

I was very fascinated while reading some of Columbus’s journal and finding how often and how brazenly he misrepresented things to his crew. In addition to this obvious falsification, he is continually trying to convince his crew, himself and those who will later read his journal/letters that he is in Asia despite mounting evidence to the contrary. It certainly makes one question the credibility of his account and for me it detracts from him being either a “villain” or a “hero”. This makes him seem more and more like someone who doesn’t deserve either title seeing as he was unaware of his actions let alone their effects.

I also found it interesting to learn that the term “Indies” refers to the high altitude of the land of the “New World”. In dies means “land of the day” and from this, the natives came to be called “Indians”. Before learning this I had assumed that the people they found in the New world were called Indians because Columbus was convinced that he was in Asia.

2 thoughts on “Week 2

  1. Jon

    I should mention that Guaman Poma’s notion that ‘the term “Indies” refers to the high altitude of the land of the “New World”’ is really not true…

  2. sabeeha manji

    Very interesting read- I like what you said about Columbus’s obvious falsification and him continually trying to convince his crew of what he knew wasn’t true. Without a doubt he was a liar and lied to a ton of people but it honestly makes me question why we celebrate this man and what he did when we know he was a liar and that everything he founded was just misinterpreted.


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