3- The Colonial Experience

I was standing at a museum in Mexico when I learned for the first time of the names and titles given to all the mixture of races. I remember being baffled while I stared at the chart of names that seemed to continually grow. My mom explained that after the conquistadores came, the Spaniards and the Indigenous people started to mix. They would get names as they mixed, and then more names as the mixes became more complex. Eventually, it got so complicated that they decided to name everybody Mexican. That is how I learned of the birth of “the Mexican race”.

I thought this explanation was kind of poetic and beautiful. I liked how all of these races mixed to become one. After that trip I became more interested in my heritage. Whereas before I had just been Mexican, now I was mix of lots of different races.

When I was doing the readings and watching the videos I realized there was a darker side to it that I had not grasped when I was younger. I learned that the names given were a kind of classification—an attempt to maintain a social order. I can imagine how being one race made one more important than the next. Honestly, this type of thing never fails to amaze me. Why is it in people’s nature to attempt classifications? Is being unorganized a cause for social unrest? Do people give themselves these titles to feel superior to others?

Nevertheless, these paintings are extremely interesting to look at. It is interesting to see these people through the eyes of that time period or through the eyes of the artist. However, I wish there were candid pictures or paintings of that time. I would have loved to see how they actually lived (without bias or stereotypes) and how they interacted within society. I wonder how important it was for people to be white and when it stopped or if it continues to be an issue.

Regarding the story of the lieutenant nun, I was very surprised to see how she got away with her deception. She kind of reminds me of a Spanish Mulan. The stories she told made me wonder if that is what life was like for young men of the time. It also made me feel as if the people of that time were very selfish. Similarly to Columbus, Catalina only seemed to worry about herself (or at least that is the way she depicts herself).

4 thoughts on “3- The Colonial Experience

  1. I really enjoyed reading your post. I totally agree that the paintings paint an interesting reflection of what that time was like, as well as what the men of that time were like too. It is also interesting to think about the strict hierarchical society in which they lived during that time. The classifications and categorizations of people were so widely used and carried out during that time, and to us, it seems so abnormal to be so categorical in classing people like that in today’s world.

  2. I want to thank you for sharing with us how your personal view on your own Latin American identity has changed. Before last week I had never thought about the impact that colonization has had on how Latin Americans define themselves. I would refer to the people of Mexico as Mexicans, without further thinking about the history of the name… I really like the way that you embrace diversity, saying that now you are “a mix of lots of different races”. I just wish more people at the time would have seen how beautiful racial and ethnic diversity is.

    As for Lieutenant Nun, I absolutely love that you think of her as a Spanish Mulan!

  3. thank you for the anecdote at the beginning. It is interesting for sure to connect your personal experience to our learning material. Did reading/learning about the Casta paintings change your ideas about what it means to be Mexican or about your identity?

  4. Hi Ximena I liked your post. I liked that you considered how it would had been if we understood and learned through the paintings more about the actual human interactions. We have missed so much historical perspectives due to the stereotypes in the social context.

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