Week Five: Caudillos Versus the Nation State

I would like to focus this week’s blog post on the Slaughter-house reading because the passage itself was so compelling. To start off, I wanted to mention a detail that stuck out for me. It was the 50 bullocks who were meant to be killed were actually for the the upperclass instead of the the starving locals. This can relate to how caudillos can be perceived as dictators in a way especially with the church ruling alongside. They used force of arms or violence, seemed to have strict rules like displaying allegiance to Rosas in public and prevalent class division and inequality. Whoever choose to speak against those in power like the man were given inhumane consequences and their deaths were shrugged away as if it were nothing.

Esteban Echeverria was able to write this story in the uttermost elaborate and intricate way showing so much detail. I was able to picture each moment so vividly and understand all that was happening. Relating this to the questions (#5 and #6), I believe the author was trying to direct our sympathies towards an everyday man who was tired of the “government”. In my opinion, this would be your average Joe. It was depicted that even death didn’t scare someone compared to what was going on. He was courageous to openly  protest regardless of the awaiting outcome. This specific tale may have been chosen to show the gory truth of Argentina under Rosas because of how triggering it is. A literary tale can teach history due to the fact that it can be an interpretation of a specific event. Rather than being straightforward and listing detail, it goes further in depth. You are more interested in the concept since it is portrayed in this light with elements like imagery or metaphors or even symbolism.

Moving on, I wanted to touch upon the portrayal of black or mixed women in the Slaughterhouse reading. They were described in degrading ways referenced to their looks, their actions or ways of communication. It was kind of alarming but not shocking. There was so much anti-blackness in colonial times so of course it would carry on. Yet, the story mentioned it on multiple occasions not just one line here or there. I like to relate things in the past to our present to see if there is any correlation . I find this example relates to what a black women has to endure in daily life with harmful stereotypes, colourist remarks, racism as well as sexism.

Discussion Question:

How did Echeverria’s reading change any pre-existing notions you had or teach you something new?

Would you prefer literary tales a way to teach history rather than textbooks or what we typically use? Why or why not?

How prevalent is anti-blackness in Latin America today?

Read 3 comments

  1. Hi!
    The wording depicting women of color stood out to me as well.
    Regarding the first discussion question, my impression of the Unitarians changed before and after reading the slaughterhouse. Before, I thought of them as visionaries who were being misunderstood by the rural folk. However, after reading the story, they seemed like rich educated elites, sitting on their high horse, mocking the poor. This shift is interesting to me given the fact Echeverria was clearly biased towards Unitarianism.
    For the second question, I don’t really prefer one or the other. I think we should learn using both since each has their advantages and disadvantages. I also think, when using literature as a learning tool, looking at writings from different perspectives is essential so we don’t get only one side of the story.

  2. Hi, great blog post! I like what you said about this story directing our sympathies towards your average Joe who is sick and tired of the political situation in Argentina. This reminded me of what we talked about yesterday in class: although not all the details in the story actually occurred, such as the flood, etc., Echeverría was trying to say that it could happen. As if any average Joe could have witnessed these events.

  3. Hey Simran!
    I really liked the read! I wanted to focus this comment on the last 2 questions. Regarding the one about teaching history, I personally find it easier to learn history if it’s being told as a story. That being said, we can’t ignore the important factual information that history gives us (which could be easily lost through a storytelling technique). On a different note, we can’t ignore the artistic methods in which people at the time would express themselves, whether that be through literature or art, so even though ‘textbook’ history is necessary, it’s not the only thing we should focus on.
    As for your last question, anti-blackness is unfortunately very prevalent in Latin America. In Brazil, many people still have this idea of racial hierarchy with Black people being at the very bottom. If we look at this on a bigger scale, such as police brutality, it’s very clear to see the racist tendencies that are held. If I’m not mistaken, over 75% percent of those who were shot dead by the police in 2019 were Black people. It’s truly disappointing to see this happen constantly in such a multicultural place.

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