Author Archives: Rachel Tomei

Research Question

I’m interested in researching how colonial powers used religion as part of cultural imperialism in the middle and later colonial period in Latin America. I would hope to find primary sources from different ethnic and socioeconomic groups and their views on religious practice. Looking at the spread of Christianity, from King Ferdinand’s claim of God giving his monarchy power over the “new world” to continued missionary efforts, may shed light on religious difference today.

What I Would Like to Learn this Semester

Last semester, I took a class called Decolonial Philosophy with Dr. McBride. The first two weeks of the course we spent talking about how different regions had wildly different histories with colonization that shaped current world economies, political structures, and social hierarchies. Therefore, the process of decolonization in each of these regions began differently and should still be approached differently. As a class taking place in the United States, we spent a lot of time talking about how decolonial philosophy affects our lives in the US. I look forward to spending a semester specifically focusing on the colonial history of Latin America.

A big theme of that class was on the definition of “man”, as defined by western hegemonic powers. Sylvia Wynter said that the original definition of “man” was a Christian-European man and that allowed for the dehumanization of the rest of the world. She then says the definition changed with what we now call eugenics. This changing definition of what it meant to be human affected the way imperialism developed in the 19th century. In my last class with Professor Holt, Latin America & the US, we talked about how ethnic and economic classes looked different in colonial Latin American than in the rest of the world. I want to learn more about how people were categorized and defined by colonial powers in Latin America and where we can see remnants of these ideologies today.