4- Independence Narratives, Past and Present

Before starting this course I did not fully appreciate the complexity of Latin America. This week really stuck out for me in this sense because there are multiple narratives for events that are often times generalized.

I remember in high school my history teacher made us do an exercise in which we wrote down a paragraph describing our day. Then she showed us a much more generalised paragraph of her day, and then one of the day through the perspective of the school administration and then one that could have been local news stories for that day. The point was for us to see how much each of the paragraphs differed although they were each describing the exact same day. This lesson really stuck with me because when I studied history from that point on,  I took more into account the perspective of the author. This is clearly something that must be done when studying Latin America.

For example, I found it very interesting how each country had a different narrative for their independence—how many places were fighting for their freedom from slavery whereas others were fighting for other sorts of freedom. It was also interesting how Mexico seemed to be heavily reliant on the Catholic Church and other countries were not (at least from my understanding). However what seemed to tie all of these people and locations was there condemning of the Spaniards. Is this what really unites these countries into the formation of Latin America?

This week, the political and social power struggles were obvious. It is evident how the elites held much power and how oppressed some of the other people were. I believe this really facilitated the rising of certain leaders. It also facilitated the idealization and romanticism of them. Something I wonder is if they actually did help the people. Something I once heard was that in Latin America it was not so much a fight for independence; it was more a fight for a shift in power which would essentially explain why there continues to be so much conflict.

Since this week was so complex, I learned a lot but I was also left with a lot more questions. Do you think revolution and a fight for independence were the only way to fix the problems in Latin America? Would there have been a different solution had the indigenous people been taken more into account? Do you think the Spaniards were at fault and are the still at fault today? Are the problems of Latin America rooted in inclusion? What is the best way to judge whether a source is accurate in its depiction of the events? Or if it is accurate to the individual author or to a more generalized group?

2 thoughts on “4- Independence Narratives, Past and Present

  1. I can relate with your entry because it is usually the case that schools teach us the general story of what happened without going into detail about the complexity of the events or even the different stories and narratives. These week’s readings highlight that complexity and even try to embrace it by demonstrating that they helped shape each Latin American country in a different way.
    I was also taught that the fight for independence was a struggle by the criollos and most of the time the rest of the population were left at the background.

  2. I really like your point about the difficulty in judging the accuracy of a source in the way it represents a certain period in history. In a case as complex as Latin American independence, I think the best we can do is to look at multiple sources from various backgrounds in order to paint as complete a picture as possible, which this week’s readings helped to do.

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