Sample History Essays on Issues in Latin American Studies

Critique of Website Definitions of Latin America And Evaluation of Authenticity

According to Owlocation, Latin America refers to the 21 countries in the American continent that speak Latin. The link to the website is https://owlcation.com/social-sciences/What-is-Latin-America. Wikipedia defines Latin America as a region that consists of entire South American continent alongside Mexico, Central America, and other regions inhabited by individuals who speak Roman language such as the Islands of Caribbean. The link to the site is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latin_America. Similarity of the two websites is demonstrated when they define the concept of Latin America in terms of the language spoken by the inhabitants of the region. Both websites also specify the geographical location of various countries in the region, although they use different words. However, the two definitions leave out the key concepts of culture and shared historical experience which are the key identities of Latin America. Regarding the authenticity of the two websites, Wikipedia is more authentic than Owlocation given that the accuracy and authority of the website’s information can be ascertained.

Critique of Selected Reading

History and Power” by Green and Branford provides a brief background and history of Latin, before, during, and after its conquest. Green and Brantford assert that the conquest of Spanish and Portuguese in Latin America had a significant impact on the region’s culture and way of life. By taking control of parts of Latin America, the Spanish and Portuguese led to the natives’ poverty as they stole their valuable resources such as lands. The colonials also enslaved Latin American natives. Aztec Empire and the Inca are the two kingdoms that dominated Latin America.

I agree with Green and Brantford’s view that the emergence of an infectious disease epidemic contributed to elimination of 90 percent of the local indigenous population in Latin America. It saw a reduction of labor thereby forcing colonials to replace the local indigenous slaves with African slaves to work in the large plantations. As centuries passed, the local indigenous population became extinct. I disagree that only the emergence of the infectious diseases contributed to the extinction of the local indigenous population including loss of its culture and language. I believe that economic exploitation also contributed to the extinction of the population. After the outbreak of infectious diseases, those who survived were subjected to work in harsh environments such as mines and plantations without food. In the process, many survivors died and the remaining local indigenous individuals were assimilated to Spanish culture (Green and Branford 19). Such an experience is similar to the case of Aboriginals and First Nations in Canada. Although there has been no attempt to eliminate them, the non-aboriginals, however, have tried to assimilate them into the western culture so that they become extinct. Aboriginals and First Nations have constantly resisted assimilation.

The article gives a detailed critique of the historical details that led to the creation of contemporary Latin America and the subsequent culture change. The emergence of the epidemic and economic exploitation contributed to the extinction of the regions of local indigenous populations. Aboriginals and First Nations in Canada have had a similar experience as the local indigenous population in Latin America as they are forced to adopt a new culture.

Part B: Essay

Topic 2

Imperialism in Latin America started when a group of European invaders from Spain and Portugal conquered the area in the fifteenth century and took control of the existing kingdoms including Aztecs and Incas. Some of the first countries that the European invaders controlled include Peru and Mexico. The Spanish and Portuguese invaded Latin America with an excuse for the Christian civilization’s mission. However, their main reason for invading the region was to grab the region’s resources especially minerals such as silver. Their occupation marked the beginning of the extermination of the local indigenous populations.

Extermination started when 90 percent of the local indigenous population in Latin America was wiped by a massive calamity. European invaders brought along infectious diseases such as measles, influenza, smallpox, and others that wiped out a large portion of the local indigenous population because they did develop resistance for such diseases. The European invaders also subjected the local indigenous population to slavery. The local indigenous were forced to work in mines, plantations, and engage in battlefields as slaves. Coupled with economic exploitation and misery, some of the surviving local indigenous individuals died in the mines and plantations because they were overworked and never given food in most instances.

A society becomes extinct if 90 percent of its population is wiped out. There were four distinct Indian cultures in the Caribbean islands before the arrival of the Spanish. The local indigenous in the islands were estimated to be 4 million. However, only 100,000 Caribbean Indians remained by 1506 (Nunn and Qian 166). By 1570, Indians who inhabited the Caribbean islands became extinct as a consequence of the infectious diseases that European invaders brought to Latin America. The least affected areas in Latin America lost 80 percent of their population while the most affected lost all their people (Azzaro et al. 3). However, they became extinct as centuries passed, and the racial boundaries in Latin America became blurred. Local indigenous women who survived either got married or were forced into sex by the European invaders (Grand 88). They ended up giving birth to mixed children. Furthermore, other women decided to learn the Spanish language and culture, thereby the local language and culture became extinct (Green and Branford 19). Cultural criteria gradually became the new way of identifying racial or ethnic identities in Latin America.

The treatment of the indigenous population in Latin America is similar to that of the Aboriginals and First Nations in Canada. Although there has not been a deliberate effort to exterminate the Aboriginals and First Nations in Canada, the measures that the country has taken towards the populations can be perceived to be undermining their existence (Fast and Collin-Vézina 170). The process of civilization and subsequent assimilation of the Aboriginals and First Nations into the mainstream western society has negatively affected various aspects of their lives such as culture and traditional roles (MacDonald and Steenbeek 32). The Aboriginals and First Nations have also been denied rights to own lands, and this continually created divisions between them and non-aboriginals in the country (MacDonald and Steenbeek 33). As a result, Aboriginals and First Nations live in poverty and experience inequities across Canada. Such was also witnessed in Latin America when the European invaders took control of the regions, and stole the indigenous population’s lands and subjected them to harsh environments, denied them rights to land ownership (Nunn and Qian 165). The culture of the local indigenous populations in Latin America also became extinct when they started learning the Spanish culture.

European imperialism in Latin America contributed to the extermination of the local indigenous populations through the emergence of epidemics and exploitation in farms. In the process, 90 percent of the local indigenous population was wiped out. How the local indigenous people in Latin America were treated is similar to how the First Nations and Aboriginals are treated in Canada. For instance, European invaders stole lands from the local indigenous populations and denied them rights to land ownership. Aboriginals and First Nations are treated in a similar way as they are denied rights to own lands.

 

 

Works Cited

Azzaro, Sebastián, et al. “History of indigenous policies as trace of erythrocyte antigen dia in the current population of the American continent.” Asian Journal of Transfusion Science (2018)., https://doi.org/10.4103/ajts.AJTS_38_18

Fast, Elizabeth, and Delphine Collin-Vézina. “Historical trauma, race-based trauma, and resilience of indigenous peoples: A literature review.” First Peoples Child & Family Review 14.1 (2019): 166-181. Retrieved from https://fpcfr.com/index.php/FPCFR/article/view/379

Grand, Sue. “The other within: White shame, Native-American genocide.” Contemporary Psychoanalysis 54.1 (2018): 84-102., https://doi.org/10.1080/00107530.2017.1415106

Green, Duncan, and Sue Branford. Faces of Latin America. NYU Press, 2013.

MacDonald, Cathy, and Audrey Steenbeek. “The impact of colonization and western assimilation on health and wellbeing of Canadian Aboriginal people.” International Journal of Regional and Local History 10.1 (2015): 32-46., https://doi.org/10.1179/2051453015z.00000000023

Nunn, Nathan, and Nancy Qian. “The Columbian exchange: A history of disease, food, and ideas.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 24.2 (2010): 163-88., https://doi.org/10.1257/jep.24.2.163