2- The Meeting of Two Worlds

This week the readings were based on what we may consider, today, the beginning of Latin America. For me Latin America has always been full of culture and history. I had never considered the beginning of it; I had only ever considered it as it is today. Hence, I found 1942 an interesting but logical time to pin point its start.

Over the years, I had learned of the arrival of the conquistadores in Latin America and more specifically in Mexico. I was born in Mexico so I was always interested in the stories my parents would tell me about the pre-hispanic times and how Mexico came to be. As I grew, I came to understand the deep impacts that they had on the people and their society. My heart always sank knowing that these indigenous cultures had been lost because of the actions that the Europeans took. It was no different this time when I watched the videos and did the readings.

It never fails to amaze me how people can be ignorant to other’s cultures. In Columbus’ journal, he mostly talks about increasing his wealth. He fails to explore a new culture. Instead he seeks gold, manipulates the people, and plans a future using the resources with the people as slaves.

I think Poma’s piece does a better job of describing both sides of the story. For me, it really depicts the misunderstandings between the Europeans and the indigenous peoples as I imagined it to be. Although I have a general idea of what happened to the indigenous cultures in Latin America, I was still shocked when I read this story. I was surprised that Poma wrote of the horrible treatment towards the Incas.

What interests me most in all of these stories is the role that religion had to play. It intrigued me that when Columbus thought the people were incapable of much, he wrote that they could be easily converted to Christianity, and when he thought they were intelligent, he believed they would find reason to convert to Christianity. He assumed that they had no religious beliefs because he saw no signs that were familiar to him. Even then, he failed to recognize that they must have beliefs because they believed Columbus himself was sent from the heavens. In Poma’s writings, he illustrates a more instantaneous effect of religion. When the emperor unknowingly disrespected Christianity, the Inca’s were immediately killed and the emperor captured. In this course, I would like to learn more of the impact that religion had during the colonization and what role it plays in modern Latin America.

From these readings, I concluded that wealth and religion were two of the biggest driving forces. That being the case, which if the two plays a more significant role? Could one exist without the other? Would the treatment have been different if religion had not been involved?

2 thoughts on “2- The Meeting of Two Worlds

  1. Hi Ximena,

    I also had a similar reaction to Christopher Columbus; he seemed to think he was better thna them because they didn’t behave like he did, failing to realize that there are simply different ways of living. Instead, he instantly looked to exploit them and look for resources to take back.

    In regards to your question, I dont think they can be separated in the case of European colonisation. It seemed to be led by the Bible and Guns/resources. Obviously, there were many that were more interested in one than the other but both were used as “valid” reasons to take over new lands and subjugate their people. The bible was used to defend their “duty” to travel to new places, and take resources if they had the power to while the gun was used to enforce Christianity and take resources. I don’t think the treatment would have been different without religion, the way in which they treated a lot of the natives doesn’t seem very Christian to me. I doubt that if they did have another religion, or no religion, that it would have made a diffference. It’s them, not their religion that was the issue.

  2. I believe that regardless of the indigenous peoples having a different religion , they were always considered inferior to the Spaniards. For hundreds of years, even after indigenous peoples became accustomed to christianity and the Spanish language, they continued to be raped, murdered and treated as the lowest of classes by other conquistadors.

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