Author Archives: sarita ponce

Sept. 21 – Casta Paintings and Lieutenant Nun

In this week’s lecture we learned about how great of a year, 1942 was for Spain.  It is explained that in January of that year, was the Fall of Granada, this being an end to the control of Moslem that lasted for eight hundred years.  Then in March, ethnic cleansing of Jewish believers began.  we learned that this cleansing went to waste as they now had to figure out how to manage the indigenous people of the “New World”.

Spain then began importing slaves from Africa. It is crazy how this is put as importing when these were not cases of food or necessities but people were taken from their homes and families.  I then learned that the US had far less of a slave population than Mexico and Peru (who had the most), and Cuba, Hispaniola, and Brazil.  This made me think of the term afro-Latinx.  It’s interesting how you start putting the pieces of the puzzle together, I didn’t know that the largest population of slaves were in Mexico and Peru.  As a Salvadoran (someone from El Salvador located in Central America) I was curious and looked up the numbers of West African people brought to El Salvador, it is 10,000 who were brought, over the span of 75 years.

The Casta paintings were a series of 16 paintings (either separately or divided onto one canvas) depicting the possible racial combinations that may arise in the new world.  Here is the image I will be referring to…


These paintings show the assumptions and idealized expectations of relations involving all the possible combinations of racial mixes.  It includes assumptions regarding status, wealth, family relations (how close children are with their parents, fighting amongst partners), the type of clothing they would wear, etc. Finally, the “families are arranged in order of highest to lowest status or wealth.

Spaniards are depicted as being of the highest status and dressed in elegant/fancy garb.  They are also painted with this vibrant red.

The Indigenous and African people are depicted as of lower status and only of higher status when they are with a Spaniard.  They (the Spanish painters) even try to label the mixes that may come up when the Spaniards, Indigenous and African mix (in the many ways its described in the above image).

Can you think of a similar example of a country labeling a group of people in an attempt to control them and confine them into certain characteristics?


Things I noticed in Zoom class:

They make assumptions regarding family dynamics, but what is never addressed is the fact that most of these ‘families’ happen through sexual violence.  The image is so idealized to think that the father would stay with mother and child.  I am sure that their were some broken families, where in the case of Spaniard fathers most likey did not stay.  it was also suggested that these images maybe sent to Spain to convey the idea that everything is “all good” in new America.

September 15 – Columbus

After watching the lecture I have understood that there are many thoughts and opinions regarding Christopher Columbus’ “discovery/conquest”.   We try to fit this event in a good or bad box when in reality this event is quite complex.  When I first learned about Columbus, I learned that he accidentally discovered a Western Island and thought he was in India.  As I have grown older and done my own research I have learned that this discovery affected the Indigenous peoples of the Islands culture, religion, and language.  When Columbus gets to this island he sees these people as naive and takes advantage of the fact that they believed that Columbus and his crew were sent from ‘the heavens’.  Columbus trades meaningless items to Spaniards, and in exchange, they receive valuable cotton and resources from the indigenous people.

Columbus was there to find gold and see if the people living there could easily be converted to Christianity.  When he meets with the Indigenous people he is quick to assume that they don’t have religion or culture.  He believes that it would be easy to convert and teach them about Christianity.

I questioned, how did this ‘discovery’ lead to the modernity of Latin America?  I quickly realized while reading Columbus’ journal that the Indigenous people had no weapons or knowledge of the kind of weapons that the Spaniards had.  These weapons were made of metals, something the Indigenous had not yet done or known to do.  I am sure that something like this was the culprit to the development of Latin America.

Columbus’s journals were written for the King and Queen of Spain.  This is apparent as he is constantly addressing the reader as your majesty.  The journal is written as a daily account of his experiences and interactions, almost as if it were a story.  It seems to me that Columbus had never sailed before as in the first few days he mistakes clouds for land.  This is odd for someone who has been appointed with the job to make contact with the King of India.  For someone to have been granted that position to be passed down through generations to come, I assumed he would be some sort of expert.  There was a sense of this voyage being the first he had ever done.  Once arrived at the island, Columbus seems to be very interested in the gold the Indigenous people had.

Lastly, Guaman Poma was also writing a recount of events for royalty, he was very detailed in his recount and formal.  The most interesting thing I took away from this passage was that I learned that Indies means in day (In Dies).  I didn’t know that they named this place because of its higher altitude.  There rest of the passage details conquests and the riches of Spain that was particularly violent towards the Indigenous people.

Did you have the same experience in school, learning the bare minimum about the actions of Columbus and his crew? did you learn more about the ‘discovery’ through social media, as a young adult/ adult?

-Sarita 🙂

Post Tuesday Zoom Meeting additional thoughts (*this is for my notes):

Poma was complaining about the treatment of the Incan people to the King of Spain in a 1200 page letter.  He makes a point to mock the Spanairds fascination with gold.  Ultimately I think that Poma was seeking justice or consequences for the Spaniards who were violent towards the Incas.

My Student Video Thoughts

I choose the Student Video titled “Modernity of Latin America” by Farjo, T., et al., as the first video, I would watch.  I found this video informative and eye-catching.  Throughout the video, I learned a lot about how different countries within South America had organic goods to trade and grow their economy.  I really enjoyed the images displayed throughout the video as well,  they were a great visual representation of what the presenters were depicting. I enjoyed learning about how family dynamics changed at this time,  how women began to work.

The second video I watched was “Speaking truth into power” by Daniel Starr and Mackenzie Baxter (2014).  I had to skim through this video as I could not get any sound, I checked my system and YouTubes volume settings, so I believe this may have been an issue with the student’s microphone.  Other than that, what I saw was that all of the pictures provided in the video were all at the end of the video,  I don’t know if there is an image requirement for this assignment but it seemed like it was put there last minute.  I really wish I could have heard what they said so I could have more to say.

The third video I watched was by Brendan Bayer et al., “The Agricultural Export Boom”, 2017.  I picked this video because the thumbnail made it look like it was going to be very informative.  I also thought that their introduction was very well done as they introduced the topic and explained what subtopics would be covered and by whom.  I found that the timelines created and provided were very helpful to not only visualize the progression but helped to understand it.  There were some areas where the arrows used were confusing.  Finally, I noticed that they included their bibliography at the end of the video.

Finally, I watched “citizenship and rights in the new Republics”, Anna Lake-Soros and David Waine from 2014.  This video had some music in the background, I only found this distracting because there were some moments where the music was distracting.  I also liked that each subtopic was separated and that both students had a chance to contribute.

Overall I really enjoyed this activity because it gave me a glimpse into what will be covered in this class, as well as, what this assignment looks like.  I definitely have some expectations for how I would like to do my video.


Hello there!

Hello all, my name is Sarita Ponce.  I am excited to be studying with you in Latin American Studies.  I am half Latina (Salvadorian) and I am excited to learn more about the culture and history of Latin America.  I previously studied biology and health care at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. I look forward to meeting you all on Thursday.

Sarita 🙂