Week 2: The Meeting of Two Worlds

Growing up in Asia, the “discovery” of the Americas was not a major focus in History class, and hence, I do not have much previous knowledge with regards to Christopher Columbus and his journey to the Americas. However, despite my lack of extensive knowledge, I knew a little here and there. While I never truly saw him as a hero (because I believe that serendipity had a large role to play in his “discovery”… slightly more on that later) I never saw him as a villain either, despite the broad range of negative effects that his “discovery” had on the indigenous civilisations.

Both this video and the readings have also made me think about intention versus reception. Columbus set sail westward to find a faster route to Asia, as well as for his personal gain. Thus, he often is seen desperately trying to justify his journey to the Crown. However, here we are, over 5 centuries later, celebrating him as a hero in holidays such as “Columbus Day”. This makes me feel uneasy because, as the video states, Columbus himself was not even aware of what he “found”. The celebration of Columbus is merely due to serendipity, as chance played a large role in the way that events unfolded. He did not find a faster route to Asia. He did not necessarily “achieve his mission”. Yet, with the way that events played out, it is clear that serendipity has played a huge role in the celebration of Columbus today, and in the manner of which many people view Columbus today – As a “Hero” or as the one who “Discovered the Americas”.**

Additionally, I am slightly angered by the fact that Candia’s incorrect portrayal of the Incas led to more people coming to the America’s and stripping them of their resources, bringing along disease and suffering. However, I also believe that the world would not be the same today if it wasn’t for the events that took place. This is one of the reasons why I believe that it is important to learn history, and in this case, the history of Latin America. Many people say that it is to keep ourselves from making the same mistakes, but a big part of me wants to learn more about the events that occurred in the past out of respect for the people and civilisations that have died in the process of making history. They deserve to be known because without them, the modern world as we know it today potentially wouldn’t exist.

Well, those are just my personal thoughts and opinions with regards to Columbus. I am sorry if this offends you in any way 🙁

Some questions for discussion – If you could say something, or ask Christopher Columbus/Candia a question, what would you say/ask? Also, how do you think the world would be like today if Columbus never sailed the ocean blue? Do you think that similar events would’ve eventually happened, or do you think that everything would be different today? No wrong answers here, to be honest.,


Michelle Marin

** The reason why I struggle to say “Discovery” without (sarcastic) quotations marks is due to the fact that “discovery” implies that it was not known before, however, it is a very euro-centric way of explaining what occurred in 1492. The “discovery” of these civilisations occurred long before, as the civilisations themselves were aware of their own existence (Does this make sense..)

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