Class Notes 9/18/19

The class discussion for 9/18 was focused on early colonial perspectives as the two groups we have been studying up to this point, the Iberians and the indigenous peoples of Latin America had recently met. The historical questions for today were 1. How do Spanish and Portuguese “ceremonies of possessions” and approaches to colonialism differ from those of other ‘European powers’? and 2. How can we apply to Bauer’s ideas about ‘contact goods’ to understand colonial power structures and hierarchies of differences? We began this discussion with a book report from Christian who presented on Puritan Conquistadors: Iberianizing the Atlantic by Jorge Cañizares- Esguerra which discusses the similarities between the Purtians and the conquistadors and their colonization of the Americas. He discovered that the motivations and justification by both groups were very similar. The main justifications given by both parties were that this land and conquering it was their “god given right” and that the natives who had been occupying the land were the “devil’s creation” or “allies of the devil”. The colonizing of the two Americas took place centuries apart but they both used the same reasoning based in religion to take over the lands. The takeaways given by Christian were 1. History repeated itself with American Colonization and 2. History should be studied by regions.

The book report presented led us to a discussion of different types of colonization and using comparison as  Cañizares- Esguerra did as a historical tool. Comparison can help us to understand the differences in two situations as well as highlighting the similarities. We then turned the conversation to Shoemaker and the motivations of colonizers. Shoemaker came up with many different types of colonizing but we focused on 4 that are most relevant to our class content. We discussed “settler colonialism”, “planter colonialism”, “extractive coloinialism” and “trade colonialism” which will all be defined below in the key terms section.  Professor Holt then prompted us to brainstorm which of these types of colonialism were used in North America. We decided that the colonizing of N. America had used aspects of all four types discussed:

Settler: creation of colonies and pushing the Native Americans out of their land

Planter: the mass production of tabacco and sugar both collected with forced labor of others

Trade: the French were fur trappers in the north, the triangle trade regarding the import of African slaves and restrictions placed on certain goods.

Regarding south America, we decided that the above examples can also apply in addition to the extractive colonialism since the conquistadors took gold and trees in brazil from South America.

We then turned to the readings and discussed “The Requirement” reading by Patricia Seed who is a historian at UC Irvine and a major pioneer in digital history. We determined with a little bit more background provided by Professor Holt that “The Requirement” was an excuse by the Spanish to conquer the native peoples and force them to convert. This was a legal loophole for the Spanish and pushed the blame onto the indigenous peoples if they refused to their “terms”. The language makes it seem like this is a reasonable request to make of the natives and that it is truly up to them whether they agree, though they are threatened by the Spanish if they don’t. This aggressive decree is a further example of the idea of European and in this case Spanish superiority and sets up the idea that only Christians really deserve freedom. The threat to wage war if the native tribes did not obey their orders were seen as almost too harsh by other European powers but the Spanish had used their own personal experience with the Islamic Jihad which had used similar tactics of forceful conversions. We also discussed the comparing of evidence which was explained in Victors and Vanquished and the role that bias may play. When evaluating evidence at this time we need to think carefully about what is real and what may be embellished. Using other sorts of evidence to use such as material objects to get more data and information about the time period it was used in.

Key Terms:

  • Settler colonialism: large numbers of settlers claim land and become the majority
  • Planter colonialism: a small minority of colonizers institute mass production (raw materials) using African slaves or indentured labor.
  • Extractive colonialism: raw material export
  • Trade colonialism: mercantile capitalism with raw materials from the colony traded for manufactured goods from Europe.

Links to Related Sources

This Article expands on the discussion surrounding types of colonialism by providing us with the other types given by Shoemaker:

This site gives a Native Perspective of the requirement and connects to some of the points made in class. It especially mentions that the Natives did not understand Spanish and thus were unable to agree or disagree:

This site shows ways of looking at bias in primary source documents which is a growing concern now that the natives and the Iberians have met and most of our surviving documents were written by the Spanish:

Potential Exam Questions:

  1. Think of another “type of colonialism” that you believe should be created when looking at the Iberians? what is it? And how do the Iberians use it?
  2. What was the primary purpose of “The Requirement”? What Spanish and Christian ideals are clearly shown in the document, provide specific examples?
  3. What are some strategies to determine bias in Primary sources? Think of one of the primary sources we have looked at thus far, what bias do they show and how can we deal with this in our evaluation of them?

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