LAST 100

More Labels than a Supermarket

Dear All,

What an interesting week. It is difficult to say where my mind is at regarding the right and the wrong of colonialism of Latin America. One thought that I had whilst discussing goes as follows – we condemn colonialism and do our best to denounce it, however, what would the world look like today if it hadn’t taken place? Would it be more peaceful? More remote and separated? Just a line of thought.

Reading about the Casta Paintings and the Mestizos, Mulattos and other ‘types of people’ shone a new light on early Latin American society. As a European, my previous knowledge of the situation was more of a ‘black and white’ – no pun intended – situation. There were the dominant Europeans and the unfortunate indigenous peoples. But the Casta Paintings demonstrate a kind of cartoon strip of life during the period. Everyone had to fit a certain category. It is an interesting concept that the Europeans felt it necessary to label people and, similar to the Indian caste system, limit their opportunities to the colour of their skin. It feels too similar to Huxley’s dystopian ‘Brave New World’, and shows the same cracks in society.

This complexity combined with our transgender nun, Catalina de Erauso, shows a whole new layer to human nature and societal acceptance in early Latin America. I believe that I can say acceptance since she/he received Papal approval to continue living their life. With all of the modern movements to remove the taboo from transgender people and the LGBTQ+ community, it is a shocking reminder that people have been living the way that they want to for thousands of years, and this concept, despite feeling slightly new, is as old as the label of gender itself. I have enjoyed transitioning from the ethics of colonialism to the controversial themes of race and gender. It allows a more personal connection with people who lived 400/500 years ago, even though we are only connected through words on paper. I believe that there is a common idea now that we are the most advanced generation in critical thinking, but perhaps we are wrong.

After you have thought about this, it makes sense why the politics of Latin America were much more complicated than you may have thought. With the arrival of the Europeans, and then subsequently their withdrawal, we could say that the entire storyline of the continent joined a parallel – comparable with Back to the Future 2. It’s difficult to explain the correlation between a transgender nun and ‘weird politics’, but since all stories are interrelated, we can trace the roots back to a weakening of the base of ‘normal’ in Latin America, if there ever was one.

Take a while to wrap your head around it – till next time – over and out!

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