Monthly Archives: September 2015

Week Four readings

Where I should I begin with the first chapter from Dawson’s textbook? The facts within it is multilayer and never one sided. The facts about the growing but immature Liberalism coming from not only the US but also from France, the fact that the first country to gain independence in that region was Haiti (which was also the first independent nationstate with a government and population mostly making up African people). Or the fact those who fought against Spanish rule varied from Indian rebels to Catholic Priest, but also to autocrats like Bolivar.

Bolivar’s letter is not only interesting because of the ideas within it to inspire future leaders like Chávez, but it gives the reader a glimpse into the stream of thought of who can be called the George Washington of Northern South America. Bolivar idea about i united South America is the most interesting and expressive aspect of the letter. Where all the countries trade and war would be avoided. This idea is also alike to the European Union in a way. Sadly, Bolivar has very little hope in the common people and sees that a strong handed rule is the only way to govern. This coming from the man that said that Spanish crown was treating them lower then slaves.

Martí essay on the other hand is more poetic and less formal but still extremely political. Martí gives the name “Our America” to his essay which helps create a certain untied concept of Latin America and what ever government existed at the time in any of those countries, independent of Spanish rule or otherwise (like his country of Cuba) still under Spanish control. Martí’s is more egalitarian then Bolivar ever was but first off addressing the common man in the paper but still expressing a concern about the future, particularly with the growing power of the US.

Chávez speech ends the string of documents but even becoming more egalitarian then Martí every was, addressing the entire Southern countries. He does mentions Bolivar struggles against the Imperial Spanish and uses it as a way of describing the forces of Neoliberal economics stemming from the North. Even though Cházez does address the Southern nations of the world, he uses Latin American as an example of the destruction by the hands of Neoliberal economics. He expresses his ideas on how the Southern nations can cut themselves free from such policies and no longer be slaves to the economics whims of the rich North.

Even through all these documents are written but different men, in different times, and in different places, they all express common themes. Unity of the South against outside forces, the power of the people in the South, and finally a call to freedom and liberation from the old and static to the new and dynamic.

The Colonial Experience

I would argue that this video is far better then Meeting of Two worlds. I reason for this is several. To begin, the video is more dynamic and catches the viewer more efficiently with its music, visual and narration going. I will remark thou that at some points the music over powered the speakers voices a little at points, but it did not at any points make the speakers seem unclear or unheard.

The information is also expressed in more effective way. I will remark that the at points the visual remained still for much to long and there was not any video clips used but due to time period the video was focusing on, it would be some limits to what visual they can show.

The narrative in the video on Catalina de Erauso and the Casta paintings is also told in a interesting and expressive manner that draws the viewer into what the speakers are communicating about. The notes on the life Catalina de Erauso was a good way to start the video and putting the information about the Casta paints in the middle video was also a good scheduling choice. I will note that it did feel at times the speakers were just speeding through the information and caused it to be unclear at times but these moments are rare.

I also argue that what they did at the conclusion at the end of the video was a great way of tying together the story of Catalina de Erauso and the facts about the Casta paintings. The speakers use Catalina de Erauso as a way of critique the rigidness and the ridiculousness of the Casta paintings and the idea that people can all be nicely placed within different race and social ladders, which where the main point behind the Casta paintings in the place. With the just mere existence of Catalina de Erauso, the credibility of the Casta paintings are reduced and see as arbitrary for constructing a social order.

In the end, I would argue that video has a lot of bright spots to it. The way the speakers retells the Catalina de Erauso, their explanation of the meaning behind the Casta paintings, and they way they concluded by tying together both de Erauso’s story and use her existence as form of critiquing the mere use of the Casta paintings is a great note to end a video on.

Readings for week three

I would argue that both of the two readings highlight the class system that was in place during that Spanish role. The story of la Monja Alferez is a show case for the differences between the choices and lives for men that were available at that time and he choices and lives for available females at that time. The casta painting also show cases the extreme lengths the Spanish went to for dividing their extremely mixed population.

La Monja Alfere life shows that if she were to stay as a nun in Spain, the options in life for her was extremely limited. She had to go so far as to dress up like a man to try to further her own goals in life. The fact that she kept her gender secret for so long and made sure that very few people when questioned it is an impressing fact in it of its own merit. Her life is also an great account of the Spanish conquests in Latin America at that time and the natives they had to face. She even recounts killing a native leader that was converted to Catholicism and yet the native still battled against the Spanish. This was a example of how successful conversion of the native populations but also how unsuccessful the Spanish subjugation of the native populations was at that time. Overall, the issues surround Spanish conquest and gender or class roles at that time is more then provided in La Monja Alfere life and is of interest to any studying those issues.

The reading on the Casta paintings was interesting because it shows that great lengths that Spanish went to when dividing up the different races within their colonies and how mixed and diverse the population of the colonies have become. These paints can be used as a way of not only pointing out the craziness of the idea of dividing races by ranks due to the complexity these paints became and how the lines between social classes were constantly mixing and matching with no clear or real dividing lines. The paints can also be used as a way of showing casing the diversity Latin American developed and how to this very day, a regular citizen in Mexico, Colombia, or Argentina would probably not be totally black, white or native in skin tone or colour, but a rich mixture of all them put together in one human being.

Meeting of two world

Where to begin with the first student video. To start off, the opening was awkward and the first speaker was awkward in his delivery of dialogue. The information in the video is more or less expressed through spoken narration coming from the speaker and then a pause of speech to show information expressed in picture form. These two ways of expressing the information runs throughout the video and it does not really keep the viewers focus due to the fact that the opening speaker is dull and has a poor delivery of his lines and that him speaking is then shifted to pictures showing information in written form with any sound. After the first speaker ends his dialogue, there is 30 straight seconds of no sound but just pictures with words over the top of them putting forward the information.

When the second speaker comes in and speaks her lines, her opening too is awkward but a little better then the first speaker and she pretty much speaks throughout the video with again, pauses in narration as pictures with words over top of them being shown and continuing the pattern of silentness pauses that appears to be a trend in this video. They also got the there information wrong, Las Casas was not there with Columbus. Casas was born 1484 and Columbus sailed to the New World 1492, so by the history presented by this video, it appears that Las Casas would have been 8 YEAR OLDS when he first got to Cuba.

Also, notice how that the first person speaking does not come back throughout the whole video. Yeah, the majority of the speaking parts in the video is mainly the second person. The first person only speaks for about a minute of so and then disappears for the rest of the video. WHAT! WHY? First off, changing who is speaking causes the video to be more dynmatic and brings more interest from the viewer into the video. If it just one person talking for most of the time and other is just gone, then is becomes stagnated and the information being expressed is more or less falling on deaf eyes.

Overall, the video is bad and is seems to fail at its job of expressing chapter 2 in a clear and interesting way. Reading the chapter on its own is more useful then this video so It would be better to go do that instead.

Week Two Readings pt. 2

The second reading by Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala is shown to be an interesting perspective on the Spanish victory over the Incas in what is now called Peru. The reading also provides a detailed progression on why so many men went to the new world and how they were able to succeeded in conquest so easily. Poma de Ayala reading is also a good account on the treatment of the fallen natives, especially in the case of Atahualpa, the last ruler of an independent Inca people.

First off, the beginning of the reading gives an account on why men went to the world. Poma states that the notes left by Columbus went into detail about the great riches of silver and gold that were just waiting to be found in the New World. It was also noted that previous travellers coming back from the New World being dressed in fine garments made of silver and gold. Factors like that would probably be a big push for Spaniards in lower or middle classes to actually come into wealth and move up in the societal ladder which was almost impossible due to the government structure that was in Spain or “Castle” at the time.

The second and last part of the reading details the conquest of the Inca’s but the Spaniards and how they justified to themselves that killing these people were a noble and needed thing to do. Aside from being motivated but silver and gold, the force for religious conversation and stomping out alternative religious belief was deemed as needed or that God wanted this to happen to expand the Christian faith. It would also be worth noting that use of religion to justify violence was not a new thing among the Spaniards. The Inquisition was just getting started at this point and years earlier, the Christian rulers of Spain successfully convince there people that God needed remaining Muslim forces (who in control for most of the country during the Middle ages) had to be pushed out of the country.

Finally, the fall of Atahualpa forces was a show case the quick about the quickness of Spanish conquest. Poma notes that the Spanish soldiers killed the Inca troops like ants and that when they won the battle they just dragged Atahualpa off his throne and thus ending the Inca rule in what is now called Peru. Poma notes that Atahualpa look “sad and disconsolate and dispossessed” and with this look radiating from Atahualpa, a historical image recounting the Spanish conquest over the Inca’s was formed.

Week Two Readings

The Reading the journal of Christopher Columbus was (to say the least) a interesting read. When it comes to historical views on the man, there are two popular conceptions, the hero or villain. The hero approach sees Columbus as a brave man that sail the ocean to lead to the founding of nations to come. The villain approach sees him as a mass slaughter to the native people in what is now Latin America. The journals I argue may be important for crafting another approach, Columbus the blind man, not with glory or with angry, but just a unknowing person within a world he does not understand.

The journals are more or less boring at first with him only describing how his ships are faring in his voyage to at least what he thinks is the Mongol Empire. He however does not accomplish and instead lands near Cuba. What is interesting is that Columbus finds the natives to be simple but pleasant. Stating if they want to convert these people to Christianity, they would have to use gentile rather then harsh means of doing so. He also praises and admires the natives at certain points in his travels but nether less see them as foreign or other and thus making him distrustful of them. This is a blow to the villain approach to Columbus because it shows that Columbus instead of being a blood thirsty murderer, is shown to have some admiration for the natives rather seeing them as something to profit off of. Neither, this is his own accounts so he may change the facts for self-pervesvation of his character.

These journals also high list Columbus blind ambition to either get to the Asia or at least find something he can bring back to Spain to show his King and Queen. Natives keep telling him what he does not want to hear. That he is not in the realm of the Khans and that there is no great supply of gold. Either way, Columbus still tries to create a narrative that his travels where not in vain but meant something.

Overall, Columbus is neither painted as complete and heartless monster or a hero that found a new world, but a man blind with his own need to find and hold onto glory. Yet the narrative he created to try to find meaning in his travels would cause a flood of Europeans to come and change the world and bring about nations that are going to be built on blood.

Review of Video

The video made by last years student are interesting to say the least. Some can be seen as informative, clear, and easy to follow when others are not so much within that ball park. I will not go into detail about all the videos but I will state and argue for my two favourite videos and my two least favourite videos.

Two favourites

  1. Independence Narratives, Past and Present

This video covers the personalities of Simon Bolivar and Jose Marti and how they inspired future leaders like Castro and Chavez This was a bit of a longer video then the rest of the other video (maybe besides Toward an Uncertain future) but I would argue that the presenters of the video put into it more energy that is not really seen to much in other videos and the they delivered the information to the viewer through the use of interesting visuals and good use of video footage. Felt like the jokes they made were unneeded and there presentation on Hugo and Castro was slanted, but their overview on Bolivar was great and Marti was treated well also. Overall, enjoyable video.

2.   The Terror

This video covers the uprisings in Peru in the 20th and the early 21st century. The video is around the 12 minutes or more long but it delivers the information in a quick, clear, and easy way to understand. I would argue that the quality of the video lays in its unbiased approach toward both rebel groups and the government.  They highlight the good and the bad of both groups that were in placed in Peru in those turbulent times. The visuals are not that great but that really only holds a candle stick compared to how well they explain the aboriginal role in these revolts on both the rebel and government side. Overall, has a lot of good information, wonderfully unbiased, and had gave a detailed account on the aboriginal role in the conflict.


Two Least favourite

  1. The Meetings of Two Worlds

There is very little good to say about this video. The visual are non-existent, the information is delivered by awkward speakers, the transitions are bad, and the audio sounds dull at best. It seemed like it was rushed product and seemed like one person (namely the female speaker) was doing most of the work. It has good Information about what its talking about, but everything else is aesthetically displeasing.

2. Power to the People

There is not really anything extremely bad about this video but there is nothing extremely good about it either. It talks about Populism and Peronism with a bias against both topics and seems to come off as opposed to any politics based on approaching the people. Visuals are nothing to good, audio is bad a lot of the time, and it did not expand or provide any useful informations about the subject it was talking about. Overall, I found it boring, uninteresting, and extremely narrow on its subject matter.


Hello, I am Jack and I joined this course because I want have a better understanding of a culture different from my own as a English-speaking Canadian and to look more at the amazement and beauty of Latin America in its present context. I hope to enjoy wonderful conversations and good comments in the coming future.