In Pierre Mossut’s letter to Marquis de Gallifet, he mentions that there is a driver behind the actions of the slaves that he does not understand, “There is a motor that powers them and that keeps powering them and that we cannot come to know.” (pg 94) What do you think this driver is and why do you think that Mossut doesn’t understand it?
The driver behind this revolution was how badly slaves were being treated and how they didn’t want to be in slavery anymore. The fact that this revolution is being driven by the experiences of the slaves is one reason that Mossut can’t seem to understand the revolt. He does not understand the experiences and the lives of slaves as he is a free white man. Being added to the lack of understanding is the previous ideas and notions that Mossut and other white people have about slaves and colored people. Mossut states “All experienced planters know that this class of men have neither the energy nor the combination of ideas necessary for the execution of this project” (pg94). So not only do they know that these slaves are being worked so hard they shouldn’t have extra energy, but they also think that slaves do not have the intelligence to organize a revolt like this. Mossut’s lack of understanding of what it means to be a slave as well as slaves themselves is what prevents him from knowing what is driving the revolts.
For my research, I think I would like to research Aztec birth and midwifery. This is a topic that has fascinated me for a long time and something that I think will be interesting as well as being something more in-depth in their culture. I hope to learn about what their traditions were at birth and their reasoning behind their practices. I also hope to learn how the colonization may have changed their practices. I would also like to learn about how European women gave birth and were helped early on where there were not many women in the new world from Europe.
Primary source: http://chnm.gmu.edu/cyh/primary-sources/305 this primary source is an image from the Codex Mendoza. It depicts birth rituals, in particular, the bathing and the naming ceremonies.
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/archaeology-and-history/magazine/2017/01-02/aztec-midwife-practical-pregnancy-care/ This is a good overview of Aztec midwifery by the National Geographic.
https://www.eiu.edu/historia/Thoele.pdf This is a nice article on how Aztec children were birthed and treated.
https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/cambridge-archaeological-journal/article/nourishing-gods-birth-and-personhood-in-highland-mexican-codices/D66156688021248E8F99BA45CC9A5FCE This looks like it will offer a great insight into th relationship between birthing and children to the gods.
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325493181_Aztec_Pregnancy_Archaeological_and_Cultural_Foundations_for_Motherhood_and_Childbearing_in_Ancient_Mesoamerica This article offers a look at rituals, the roles of people, and complications during birth.
I think one potential research question that I would possibly like to follow is how the colonization of Latin America changed the environment. I think this is important to study because this time period of colonialism is when environments started to change and really be disturbed by humans. I know that many of the indigenous empires did farm and cultivate the lands, so I am also curious about how the Europeans changed the way that the native people used land. We also know that because of the die-off of millions of people during this time caused the land to be reclaimed by forests and cooled the atmosphere. I am excited to learn more about different environmental changes.
- Today’s class was guided by three questions: What kind of evidence can we use to analyze pre-Columbus Latin America?, What is material culture and how can we use it as evidence?, and How did the local environment influence civilizations? For the first question, we need to understand that most of the accounts and evidence of the New World are from colonists’ point of views which can be biased and it doesn’t give us both sides of the story. As well as there being potential for ideas and traditions being lost in translation between the indigenous and the colonists. Evidence from pre-Columbus can come from artifacts and excavations, cultural traditions that have survived as well as tribe oral history. We can use surviving texts and inscriptions from the time, as well as the artwork. With modern technology, we can use DNA to look at genetics which can offer us a view of where these peoples ancestors may have come from. We can also use radar and sonar technology to discover lost buildings or sites that have been taken back over by the forest. The next question for class was about material culture. Material culture are the tangibles of a culture, so anything physical, from tools to buildings. For identity, material culture is very important to show what group we belong to, what our status is. The consumption or use of material culture is a way to communicate, without necessarily talking or trying, what your status or class is. Like it was mentioned in class that colonists had strict dress rules with European fashion, this was their showing of class. For the last question, we looked at the environmental influence on societies. Towns and cities were heavily influenced by where they developed by what natural resources were around them. Rivers and lakes were important as they needed a water source for themselves and for irrigation. They also needed areas suitable for growing crops, so areas that get a lot of rain. Deserts were avoided. When colonists arrived, flat land was the hot commodity as they wanted it to grow crops and raise livestock. Indigenous people, however, didn’t always need flat land for agriculture. Take Machu Picchu as an example, they created a city high up in the Andes mountains and were able to create terraces for crops.
- In one of our readings, Mann talks about how traditional scholars and even some new scholars find it ridiculous to claim that there were millions upon millions of Native Americans living in the Americas before Columbus. Some say that there is no evidence for such large civilizations. This relates to our class discussion because we were talking about how evidence is so heavily one-sided towards the colonizers. There is no good estimate of what population sizes were for the Natives that currently survive. The colonizers typically destroyed any written work of the Natives as they saw it as demonic and as a blocker to converting them to catholicism. This is why material cultures other than texts are so important to study these ancient people.
- Key terms:
- material cultures – the physical items and places that are used to represent a culture, can include tools, buildings, artwork, and any other tangible item.
- epidemiology- the study of the patterns and spread of disease through a population.
- More on material cultures of the pre-Columbus Latin American peoples. https://worldhistoryconnected.press.uillinois.edu/9.2/forum_mundy.html
More about different native cultures right before Columbus. https://www.loc.gov/exhibits/1492/america.html
The history of animals in Latin America. Although starts way back with mammalian evolution, there is a good section on the pre-Columbian era as well as during the Columbian exchange. https://oxfordre.com/latinamericanhistory/abstract/10.1093/acrefore/9780199366439.001.0001/acrefore-9780199366439-e-436
5. What can material culture tell us about a society that we have very few written record from their point of view or time period? Along the same lines, what can material culture tell us about a civilization that written record can’t?
What kind of evidence would be needed to support the argument that there were millions upon millions of natives living in Latin America pre-Columbus?
KH: I can help you get started with this one, if you’re interested: Koch, et al, “Earth system impacts of the European arrival and Great Dying in the Americas after 1492“, Quaternary Science Reviews 207 March 2019: 13-36. This starts with a look at multiple different techniques used for estimating population pre-contact. Or for a historian’s look at the impacts of disease, see David Noble Cook’s Born to Die.
Creative thought question: How do you think history would be different if it was the Native Americans that sailed and “discovered” the old world? What would they have thought about Europeans, Africans, and Asians and all of their cultures?
One of the reasons I decided to take this class was because I feel that we are taught only about North America during the time of colonization in the New World. I would like to learn about colonization in Latin America and how it differed from more Northern parts of America. How the native cultures were affected and how the newcomers responded to these new people seems like it could be very different compared. When I think of Native Americans and how they faired, unfortunately, a lot of cultures was lost and they were pushed and forced to live on smaller and smaller reservations. I would like to learn about how the cultures of the natives in South and Latin America faired when faced with the conquistadors, how much survived, how it survived, and partly how the present South and Latin America view these native cultures now.
Along the same lines of culture, I would also like to learn how the cultures of the New World natives and the culture of the colonizers mixed. Like what parts were shared and continued to be included in each other’s cultures. For example, I know that Catholicism is still very prevalent across South and Latin America. But what other aspects combined with each other. We can learn how South and Latin America is a unique place becuase of the cultural combinations from this period of time. I would also like to see what still remains as common practice today.