Monthly Archives: September 2017

Week Four – Independence in Latin America

This week’s topic, Independence, is a huge topic to tackle. Especially when we are covering the independence of such a huge geographical area that is Latin America. I found the narrative of José Martí incredibly beautiful and poetic; the way in which he describes the struggle of the people of the New World against the Spanish colonizers is absolutely stunning and it left an impact on me. His use of metaphors and descriptive language creates a very vivid image, and makes me think that he was quite an effective and influential figure in the struggle for independence. However, some of his ideas were a little bit hard to follow due to the way he chose to write his piece, with some of the metaphors creating a bit of an issue in my understanding of what he was trying to say.

Bolivar’s narrative however, is descriptive in a less poetic way but yet still highly effective and seemingly influential. He highlights the facts of the rebellions happening throughout Latin America and explains what is happening with these uprisings and why. I found Bolivar’s writing a lot easier to follow than Martí’s, just because it was written in a more straightforward and “straight to the facts” kind of way. A particularly powerful line from this piece of writing for me was, “we are threatened with the fear of death, dishonor, and every harm; there is nothing we have not suffered at the hands of that unnatural stepmother-Spain”. The idea of the stepmother in this sense is excellent; someone that comes into a family from a completely different place. Someone that does things differently to what you are used to, and this can go very well, or it can go extremely wrong. In the case of Latin America, the relationship that it had with Spain was obviously a bad one.

The question I have after this week’s plethora of information about independence is this: When do people decided that enough is enough and start the spark of revolution? How long can people put up with being ruled by a crown that does not have the best interests of you in mind? And who says when its time to start fighting back?

The bravery of these people that we’ve learned about this week, and of course many other people who we have not heard about, is absolutely astounding and sparks a common theme: what will you do when you’ve decided that enough is enough?

Week Three!

As we continue on along the story line of Latin America, I continue to be surprised and excited about the rich history and culture that comes along with everything in Latin America. What I find particularly interesting about this week’s content is the story of Catalina De Erauso, and all the events that happened in her life. I think that it’s absolutely fascinating how she decided to leave her life of a nun behind, and continue on with the identity of a man. Its incredible how much opportunity came her way, that wouldn’t have even been considered had she decided to live her life as a woman. It’s amazing that she managed to conceal her true identity for so long, especially while she was working with her brother! A question I have though, is: did she decide to identify as a man due to the fact that she thought that she would have more opportunity this way? Or was it because male was her true gender identity? This was briefly mentioned in the “Lieutenant Nun” article, but I feel as if it still isn’t 100% clear, and makes for an interesting discussion topic.

The Casta Paintings are another really interesting topic that I’m glad we’re covering. I really like how every person, no matter the skin colour, is represented within these paintings. I find that to be very forward thinking, especially for the time period in which they were most popular. However, I’m not entirely sure if the casta paintings are a positive or negative thing. On one hand, yes it does have representation of many different races and ethnicities, but how are those races and ethnicities being represented? In the student video “Casta Paintings: an Introduction” the students mention this. They examine how the different races are represented and question the effects that these paintings have on people’s opinions in regards to race. My question is, what do you think about this? Are they positive or negative or both? Or, was was the original intention of the artist who first created this concept of capturing race in paintings? Was it to show the strict lines of racial hierarchy? Or to try and help soften the lines of the divide? Whatever the intention, I think that its interesting how the conversation of race has been going on for such a long time, and still a topic of discussion even today.

Thank you for reading my somewhat of a rant-like post!

Week Two — Response

Listening to “The Meeting of Two Worlds” videos and reading the journal of Christopher Columbus himself has left me with two feelings. One being, intrigued about what happens next in the historical story, and the second being frustrated with Columbus. The first feeling is usually how I feel when I begin to learn about a new subject, all the ideas are fresh and exciting, and it feels as if I’ve stepped into another world. Of course, I knew that Columbus travelled from Europe to find the West Indies, but I did not know exactly where he landed or what kinds of people that he encountered along the way. It was interesting to watch Jon’s video after reading the journal entries as it increased my understanding and deepened my interest. I also thought that the student videos were quite well done and helped the knowledge sink into my brain.

The reason that I felt frustrated with Columbus is his sheer ignorance of any other culture or religion other than his own. I understand that this was just the mindset of the time; that any one other than Europeans were “savages” and “uncivilized”, and were in need of Christianity. However, it is a completely dismissive way of thinking, and the fact that thousands of people died of foreign disease is also a maddening fact. I don’t know much about colonization in South America, but I know a little bit about North America and I know that the after effects of colonization has continued even to this day. Relationships between First Nations people and the government is still not a great one. So a question I have about colonization in South America: is the relationship between the indigenous people and the government a good one? Or is it a hostile one? What were the consequences of Columbus coming to Latin America, and how has that affected the relationship between native Latin Americans and European settlers? Another question I have is how exactly did Spanish spread throughout the countries? Did the settlers teach the indigenous people? Or was it just picked up by the people through time? Also how did the indigenous language become the language less spoken?

There were so many questions that I had after being introduced to the meeting of these two worlds and I am looking forward to discovering more of the story of how Christopher Columbus “discovered” Latin America.

Week One

Hi! My name is Madeleine Deis and I am a second year arts student from Vancouver.. I still haven’t figured out what I’m doing with my degree yet but I’m hoping to figure that out soon!

I know very little about Latin America and its history so the subject matter in these videos is all very new to me.

The first video I watched was “Caudillos”  which was an interesting but brief history of three Caudillos in Latin American in the 19th century. I found it fascinating how the idea of the dictator was just an accepted way of governing a country. It seems like the caudillos created order, in a way, and helped Latin America become what it is today. To me, the word “dictator” is a negative one, but the way in which the students in this video portrayed these men, made it seem like they were extremely positive influences on the countries they were governing; the line that someone said,”The disconnect between the government and its people left many gaps which the caudillos intervened to try and fill” was particularly interesting. I felt like the content in this video was a little bit lacking. I wish that the students went into a little more depth about the time that these caudillos were in power, as this topic is very interesting and I think it requires a little more explanation in order to understand this way of thinking.

The next video that I would like to talk about is “Casta Paintings”, and, here we go again, I had no clue about the depth and purpose of these paintings, or that this idea of social class was ever represented to this degree in the form of paintings.  The notion that a darker skin tone was associated with a lower class, and a lighter skin tone was associated with higher class is a theme that is presented throughout history. To know that Latin America is not exempt is not surprising. My question though, is why? What or who started this idea about skin tone, and why has it continued through history for so long. And why is it still around today? I really liked how at the end of the video, she mentioned that the idea of racial hierarchy is still presented prevalently in the media, advertising and whatnot today, as it is an important ongoing issue.

“The Meeting of Two Worlds II” was a brief, yet descriptive and informative video about early colonialism in Latin America. I enjoyed the way that this video was made and the way that the information was presented to the audience. It was different to the way that the other two videos were made and I appreciated that. I didn’t watch the other parts to this subject, so I felt like I only grasped a little bit of the story of colonization in this area of the world.

A video that I found a little confusing and difficult to keep up with was “Independence in Latin America”. I thought that the subject matter was interesting, however I thought that the information was kind of disjointed and hard to follow. It would have been better if the audience had some kind of visual aid, or even subtitles to follow along with what they were saying in the video. I did like, how most of the students were Latino themselves and could share a first hand experience of what Latin American Independence meant personally for them.