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Week 3 – The Colonial Experince

I absolutely enjoyed this week’s readings and lecture video. Particularly because I found Catalina De Erauso’s, Lieutenant Nun quite engaging, and Susan Deans-Smith, “Casta Paintings”, provided great connection to the lecture when it came to explaining the social hierarchy. 


Firstly, I am quite surprised about Catalina De Erauso’s memoir for so many reasons. I think that one of the major points that impress me is not only does she deliver her memoir to the king, the memoir that conceals the confession to all the people she was able to deceit, but on top of it all, is able to then receive permission from the Pope to continue living in men’s clothing. 

In the beginning of the reading, I thought Catalina’s transformation was just so that she wouldn’t be recognized, and that taking the job as a soldier was just out of necessity. It had not crossed my mind that she may have actually fancied being a man. Not until chapter six, where she writes that she was found “frolicking” with another girl, and that she would also seek out her brother’s mistress on her own. It seems Catalina could have in fact been queer, or could have been keeping up with her impersonation of being a man, and therefor had the pressure of being seen among the other men with a woman. Is there further commentary from Catalina about this?

Nevertheless, as I read, there seems to be some type of heroic aspect to her, as if she is a fighter of oppressive social norms, and that seems to overshadow the fact that her actions were of a violent colonialist. 


I also find the Casta paintings quite interesting. 

The similarities between each group, the mulattos, mestizos, lobos, etc. are all portrayed in a specific way, and I wonder if that is affected by the person who created the paintings? Because perhaps if an Espanol purposefully created the Casta paintings to aspire that social hierarchy, then perhaps the reality of things were quite different. I say this out of surprise from seeing that when a Spanish person came together with an African, they were dressed in quality clothing, reflecting a higher status. From what I had understood, a great majority of  the Africans that were brought to America were slaves and abused, so I do think it is misleading to see a black person with a position of authority, when during that time period, most were treated as less than human. I think it is a misrepresentation of the actuality of how blacks, mulattos, lobos lived, and if there were those who gained a position of authority, it must have been a small group compared to the general population that were slaves. 

Was it common to see Africans in a position higher than slaves?


I cannot count the amount of times I have gotten together with my family and friends from South America and make sense out of all the labels there are, and pinpoint which one we would “fit” into. Of course, it has been so many generations that it is quite difficult to come to one conclusion. 

While in North America, the term black was used generally, in South America, there were many different terms. I know that I come from a lineage of a mix of a Mestizo past, yet I identify myself as Venezuelan and Latina and Italian, since that is where I was born. 

Because of that mix, I appreciate knowing my heritage as it has shown me respect for my country, indigenous people, and people of colour, as I see myself part of these groups. 


Question: So i wonder, has creating these terms, as complicated as they are, provided a way to fight against possible racism (acceptance of who we are and where we come from), or does/has it only perpetuated discrimination instead (since that was the purpose of it in the beginning)? 

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