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?

Week 3: The Colonial Experience

Casta Paintings are something I’ve never heard of/seen before but I can say I’m very intrigued. In a social justice class in high school, we touched upon caste systems around the world. I noticed it was typically based on religion, social groups, jobs but rarely race. We went into detail about the racial system in Brazil. I am familiar with the terms used in the paintings but not the concept.

There were three individuals, a woman, man and child in each painting alongside numbers labelling them with a description of their race. A picture really depicts a larger idea. With the different outfits, objects and background scenery, a viewer can get an overall gist of what they’re really looking at. The various careers they seemed to have were a shoemaker, musician, seller and what looks like a don/general.

A common trend seems to be the higher up and more “European blood” relationships were showcased as richer based on their clothing and the objects around the paintings. They obviously were employed in more respectable jobs. When you went down the board looking at relationships with Native and African descents, their clothing was not as appealing and you can see they do more manual/labour work. If a European man was with a women of another background, he still seems well off but a Spanish women in a similar situation was lower on the canvas.

To me, I find this discriminatory and dividing between the races. As mentioned in the lecture, this was the root of an identity crisis. The whole idea of painting all possible bloodlines is excessive and unnecessary. My mind instantly gravitated towards racial whitening or “blanqueamineto” where following generations were trying to get “rid” of any black or indigenous heritage. The photo I attached below was shown in my class a lot. I believe the context behind it was a grandmother who had a mixed child feeling joyful that her daughter married a European man and had a child who basically looks white. I know that specific tradition was popular in areas after colonialism especially in the early 1900’s.

OP-ED: Miscegenation in Brazil as a state policy to whiten its population | AFROPUNK

History tends to repeat itself in multiple ways. Looking closer at the Casta Paintings, I can see that being of/closer to European descent was more beneficial and desired. Issues seen today with the beauty standard, colorism and even racism can stem from something like this. I know a lot of other countries who were colonized have a common ground. I’ve heard about it during ethnic cleansings as well.

Discussion Question:

How were Casta Paintings harmful for the following generations post colonialism? What are some long or short term effects?