(Heads up: this is my unedited chain of thoughts)
“The Meeting of Two Worlds” What an interesting take on the main event of 1492, when Christopher Columbus sailed that ocean blue.
The very beginning of the lecture already does quite a job at captivating my mind with the simple question of “When is Latin America?” In fact, it isn’t so much the question but the possible answers to it. Of course there is the “historically correct” response, which is when Christopher Columbus landed in the Americas, but the second possibility is what intrigues me the most. The notion that it is still not complete, that is to say the idea of Latin America does not exist. After stating that second point in the lecture, Dr. Beasley-Murray continues, “It is a political and social project that remains incomplete.” And perhaps this is a concept that will be explored further as we continue through this course, but what would that project be? I, for one, would be very interested in that notion. Because if that project is being carried out in this current day, then I imagine many citizens of Latin America would say how dreadful it is, with regards to the many corrupt and poverty ridden countries across Central and South America. This is definitely a large concept that would need to be unpacked.
Anyways, going back to Columbus. I found it quite interesting the fact that Columbus was a key point that only became important after; in the future. I guess that Columbus did not know how hugely impactful he was going to be to history, for if he would have known, or realized that he had discovered a whole new continent, then perhaps his actions would have been completely different. Which then connects to the thought in the lecture that there is no reason for history to unfold the way it did. So I wonder why was Columbus’ particular discovery so impactful, in contrast to other groups of explorers that had little effect to the lands they found?
Another quick point that is quite intriguing, is Columbus a hero or a villain? That I find is tricky to answer, especially with the vocalized opinions in the media. What I learned about Columbus as a child are two things:
- “In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue” and that he was a Spaniard explorer that stumbled upon and discovered North America, though he did not know it. >from school education
- That Columbus enslaved and killed many indigenous peoples once he reached America. >from my hispanic/italian household
Recently, from the protests I have watched on the news and social media, the second idea seems to be more prevalent, sort of making Columbus out to be a villainous character.
Lastly, in Columbus’ journal, he does mention that he thinks that the indigenous peoples would be “good servants” That is just a snippet of massacre that would happen against the indigenous in the years to come, yet I found that to be a good contrast to when just before Columbus set sail back to Spain. On December 30, Columbus met with one of the authorities of the indigenous, and throughout the meeting exchanged their valuables. Columbus received a crown from them that was places on his head, and in return, Columbus dressed one of the men in European jewels and clothes. Exactly, what does that situation mean I do not know, but I find it very important to notice, as if perhaps it was a foreshadowing to what was to occur in the future years.
September 16, 2020 — 12:37 pm
I agree with your interpretation of the exchange of riches between Columbus and one of the native Americans as foreshadowing what was to come. I saw it as a symbol of Columbus’ gratitude for what the native Americans had given him; the physical gifts of gold etc. but also the promise of glory on his return to Spain.
September 16, 2020 — 11:59 pm
I think the idea of whether Columbus was a villain or not was very interesting. I think the story is so multi-faceted and has been represented in different ways. I would love to hear a perspective from the other side- of the people who were being invaded and what they thought. The idea that Latin America “is a political and social project that remains incomplete.” is fascinating to me as well because I had never thought of in that way too. I always just assumed that Latin America was just below the US border, but it encompasses so much more and I am curious to see how future generations will define it.