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Amerindian Images and the Legacy of Columbus

Amerindian Images and the Legacy of Columbus

Series: Hispanic Issues
Volume: 9
Copyright Date: 1992
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 768
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  • Book Info
    Amerindian Images and the Legacy of Columbus
    Book Description:

    “Offers a well-informed and academically creative reading of texts which foster the so-called colonial imaginary in relation to Spanish and Portuguese colonial enterprises in the Americas.” --Guido A. Podesta

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8474-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Introduction The Construction of a Colonial Imaginary: Columbus’s Signature
    (pp. 1-95)
    René Jara and Nicholas Spadaccini

    Few tales in the history of the world are more familiar than the one relating the adventures of Columbus, the fabled Admiral of the Ocean Sea who, prisoner of his dreams, sailed West in search of the fabulous riches of Cathay or Cipangu, only to trip on America, a mass of then “unknown” land that was soon to become the fourth terrestrial continent.

    The Admiral’s story has become a piece of art in the sense that it has acquired its own truth, a truth that in addition to being selfvalidating and indisputable is also ambiguous and contradictory. That he landed...

  4. Chapter 1 Word and Mirror: Presages of the Encounter
    (pp. 96-102)
    Miguel León-Portilla

    The announcer of the portent was born in Córdoba many centuries ago. The testimonies of the fulfiller of the presage are still found today in Seville, beside the Giralda. And upon the realization of the portent, from the coasts of Andalucia, facing the Atlantic, the ocean ceased being an encircling barrier to become a path of encounters.

    There are crystal balls and mirrors in which one sees what is about to happen. There are also prophetic words pronounced by soothsayers and, at times, even by circumspect men renowned as philosophers. Such words and mirrors are magic bearers of presages; they...

  5. Chapter 2 De Bry’s Las Casas
    (pp. 103-131)
    Tom Conley

    Many of the images we know of the European encounter with the New World come to us through Théodore De Bry and his two sons. Currently adorning posters and brochures announcing conferences celebrating the Columbian Quincentennial, they offer an allure of “authenticity” of first-hand contact of new and old cultures. Their engravings are sharp and clear, and their figures of Europeans and Indians accompany folio texts with innovatively drawn maps.¹ One of the smaller illustrated volumes is a Latin edition of Bartolomé de Las Casas’sBrevísima relación, issued by Théodore De Bry in Frankfurt in 1598. In the paragraphs that...

  6. Chapter 3 (Re)discovering Aztec Images
    (pp. 132-162)
    Eloise Quiñones Keber

    With these awe-struck words the Spanish conquistador Bernal Díaz, writing decades later in distant Guatemala, vividly recalled his first glimpse of the Aztec capital of Mexico Tenochtitlan, which in 1519 he was among the first Europeans to see (Fig. I).¹ He marveled at the sumptuous attire of the city’s ruler, Moctezuma II, and the noble entourage that had come to greet Hernán Cortés and his retinue after they had crossed the broad southern causeway leading into the island city. And once inside he was impressed by the spacious oratories, halls, and chambers of the palace complex that had once belonged...

  7. Chapter 4 Fantastic Tales and Chronicles of the Indies
    (pp. 163-182)
    Manuel Alvar

    This is not the first time that, in one way or another, the manner in which chivalric literature formed part of the nascent New World has been addressed. It is customary, however, to speculate with relative success based on very little information. I do not intend to enter into questions of either the personal or the collective psychology of the conquistador. Rather, I propose to examine the code of chivalry as a principle that makes possible the transmission and understanding of the New World for the West. It is also the case, though not for the first time, that either...

  8. Chapter 5 Reading in the Margins of Columbus
    (pp. 183-197)
    Margarita Zamora

    In a recent study on the colonization of Peru, Steve J. Stern traced the political and economic processes that transformed various and distinct Andean groups into a homogeneous, subordinate, and marginalized caste of “Indians.” Stern’s analysis reminds us that whether we use the colonial term “Indian,” or the more geographically precise “Amerindian,” or even the more politically correct “Native American,” we are in each case speaking of a European construction that arose in the concrete historical circumstances of the conquest of America. The pre-Columbian world knew no such category of humankind. Columbus introduced the term “Indian” to refer to the...

  9. Chapter 6 To Read Is to Misread, To Write Is to Miswrite: Las Casas as Transcriber
    (pp. 198-229)
    David Henige

    Since they first appeared, the works of Bartolomé de Las Casas have been both the object of encomium and the target of obloquy. In particular hisBrevísima relación de la destructión de las Indiasaroused passions on its publication in 1552 and has managed to excite controversy ever since.² Even his most fervent admirers have found it difficult to accept the surfeit of almost comically implausible scenarios and numbers he used to document his account of Spanish atrocities toward the Indians.³ Recently there has been a move afoot to vindicate Las Casas in this respect, particularly by those intent on...

  10. Chapter 7 Loving Columbus
    (pp. 230-265)
    José Piedra

    ... They also likely made love to him. The original saying appeared on a bumpersticker that was produced to exploit the “celebration” of the 500th anniversary of the “discovery” of America. It is still glued, half-torn by an anonymous hand, to the glass panel of my office door and was the gift of a Caribbean student who was taking my course “Native Revenge.” I take this bumpersticker to be an icon of the paradoxes that arise from Caribbean peoples placing too little or too much love in Columbus’s coining. For the purposes of this essay I will consider myself in...

  11. Chapter 8 Fray Ramón Pané, Discoverer of the Taíno People
    (pp. 266-290)
    José Juan Arrom

    Columbus, seeking a shorter route to the East Indies, accidentally found some islands not charted on European maps. During his trip, he described the landscape of those islands and placed in that landscape some exotic beings whom he called Indians. On his next hip, he brought along a Hieronymite friar, whom he commissioned to investigate the “beliefs and idolatries” of those strange beings. The friar, following these orders, went to live among the Indians, learned their language, listened to their songs and their tales, and wrote down what he could of their astonishing tales. As part of this process of...

  12. Chapter 9 Colonial Writing and Indigenous Discourse in Ramon Pane’sRelación acerca de las antigüedades de los indios
    (pp. 291-311)
    Santiago López Maguiña

    TheRelación,written by the Hieronymite friar Ramón Pané around 1498, is the first Spanish text written with the intention of providing information about “the beliefs and idolatries” (“las creencias e idolatrias”) of the Indians who lived on the island of Hispaniola—the name with which Christopher Columbus rechristened Haiti—“and how they venerate their gods” (“y como veneran a sus dioses”). It has been said (Anderson Imbert 22) that Pané initiated ethnography on this continent and that, in all probability, he was the first European to speak an Amerindian language. Pané is said to have participated in theidiotus...

  13. Chapter 10 When Speaking Was Not Good Enough: Illiterates, Barbarians, Savages, and Cannibals
    (pp. 312-345)
    Walter D. Mignolo

    The lack of alphabetic writing was one of the most significant trademarks, next to lack of clothing and the eating of human flesh, in the construction of the image of the Amerindians during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Not having it yet or having it in excess were two cognitive moves used by Europeans in constructing the identity of the self-same by constructing, at the same time, the image of the other. My main goal in this essay is to examine how some Spaniards represented Amerindian verbal expression in light of a Renaissance philosophy of writing. At the same...

  14. Chapter 11 Colonial Reform or Utopia? Guaman Portia’s Empire of the Four Parts of the World
    (pp. 346-374)
    Rolena Adorno

    The projectAmerindian Imagesasks us to consider how our present assumptions shape our understanding of the Indian of the past. Over the years I have observed three recurrent themes that deserve continual scrutiny and correction. I shall sketch them quickly in the paragraphs that follow.

    The first of these critical challenges has been to overcome not only the monolithic image of the Indian but also to get beyond stereotypical notions of therelationsof Indians and Europeans, which can be reduced to what the editors of this volume call the “paradigm of polarity.” In an earlier volume in the...

  15. Chapter 12 Amerindian Image and Utopian Project: Motolinía and Millenarian Discourse
    (pp. 375-400)
    Georges Baudot

    The discursive treatment of the Amerindian image, when related to utopian projects of a political-spiritual kind such as the one that is forged and expressed by the first Franciscan missionaries in Mexico, must first be considered in its historical roots. That is, one must contemplate the antiquity of such discourse and its most evident sources. This is not mandated by a previous investigation of possible influences of certain ideological nuclei that might be traced in this discourse, but because only in this manner will the totality of the process and the mechanisms of production of this image become totally understandable...

  16. Chapter 13 The Place of the Translator in the Discourses of Conquest: Hernán Cortés’s Cartas de relación and Roland joffé’s The Mission
    (pp. 401-424)

    In “Learning to Curse: Aspects of Linguistic Colonialism in the Sixteenth Century,” Stephen Greenblatt cites Caliban’s lines to Miranda and writes: “Caliban’s retort might be taken as selfindictment: even with the gift of language, his nature is so debased that he can only learn to curse. But the lines refuse to mean this; what we experience instead is a sense of their devastating justness” (570).¹ Later in this essay I turn to an analogous scene in Roland Joffé’s 1986 film,The Mission,that depicts the inculcation of a debased language for the natives. Before taking up the latent ideological pedagogy...

  17. Chapter 14 Other-Fashioning: The Discourse of Empire and Nation in Lope de Vega’s El nuevo mundo descubierto por Cristóbal Colón
    (pp. 425-451)
    Allen Carey-Webb

    During the sixteenth century Spain had the largest and most imposing empire of any European power since Rome. From the Philippines to Africa, from Italy to Peru, it was, in fact, the first imperium on which “the sun never set.” Spain was at the forefront of developing and expanding European nations, a model for dominion abroad and absolutism at home. On the peninsula the sixteenth-century agenda included the unification of the Spanish states, the expulsion of the last Moorish rulers, the use of the Inquisition as an instrument of the monarchy, the development of an elaborate system of taxation, and...

  18. Chapter 15 Authoritarianism in Brazilian Colonial Discourse
    (pp. 452-472)
    Roberto Reis

    The colonial period is one of the least known in Brazilian literary studies.² One of the reasons might be a paradigm that is still current among Brazilian historiographic literary studies that emphasize a close reading of texts and/or the specificity of poetic language. As a result of those tendencies, texts such as Father Nóbrega’sCartas do Brasil (Letters from Brazil)and Jean de Léry’sViagem à terra do Brasil (Travels to Brazil)are not considered to be “literary” texts.³ Thus, critics such as José Aderaldo Castello prefer the term “literary manifestations” when dealing with colonial letters, and in hisHistoria...

  19. Chapter 16 Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz; or, The Snares of (Con)(tra)di(c)tion
    (pp. 473-529)
    Elena Feder

    In herRespuesta a Sor Piloted de la Cruz (Reply to Sor Philothea),Sor Juana states: “And in truth I have never written except against my will and when forced to and then only to please others; not only without gratifying pleasure but with actual repugnance.” She later adds, “I do not remember ever writing anything for my own pleasure except a scrap of paper they callThe Dream”(Respuesta4: 444, 471).² By callingPrimero Sueño(2: 32S-359)³—one of the most complex poems ever written in spanish—a “papelillo” and by singling it out in her only explicitly...

  20. Chapter 17 The Indian as Image and as Symbolic Structure: Bartolomé Arzáns’s Historia de la Villa Imperial de Potosí
    (pp. 530-564)
    Leonardo García Pabón

    From 1545, the year the Indian Huallpa discovered the Mountain of Potosí, where the Imperial City of Potosí would be founded, until its days of decadence and abandon at the end of the eighteenth century, Potosí carried the mark of the indigenous in its history. As the necessary labor force for the mining industry, the Indians had become an essential part of social life in Potosí by the time the Imperial City reached its apex as the most important center for silver production in the viceroyalty of Peru between 1577 and 1604. The participation of the Indians in the history...

  21. Chapter 18 Images of America in Eighteenth-Century Spanish Comedy
    (pp. 565-583)
    Bernardita Llanos

    In the popular Spanish heroic comedy of the early eighteenth century the Conquest of America is related to the issue of evangelization. At the same time, two images of the Amerindian emerged: the image of the wild man—in contrast to the superior nature of the Spaniard—and that of the Noble Savage who was imbued with the European virtues of decorum, spirituality, and intelligence (White 186+; López Baralt 452-453).

    The image of the Amerindian as both noble and wild are two different aspects of the European representation of native subjects. These tropes produced two different attitudes: one of extermination...

  22. Chapter 19 Humboldt and the Reinvention of America
    (pp. 584-606)
    Mary Louise Pratt

    It was in 1799 that Alexander von Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland secured permission from the Spanish Crown to travel freely throughout the interior of its American colonies. Their trip lasted from 1799 to 1804, during which time they journeyed widely in South America, Mexico, and the United States. Bonpland returned to South America in 1814 and remained there for the rest of his days (he “went native” in Paraguay, in fact). Humboldt remained in Europe and, between 1807 and 1834, published some thirty volumes based on his travels. These writings (or at least some of them) played a key role...

  23. Chapter 20 Atahullapa Inca: Axial Figure in the Encounter of Two Worlds
    (pp. 607-628)
    Marta Bermúdez-Gallegos

    Atahuallpa was the last Inca in power before the Spanish arrival and for this reason the colonial imaginary presents Atahuallpa as the point of intersection of the two worlds that participate in the drama of colonization. One might say that all discourses making up the network of colonial culture seem to converge in ambiguity in the portrayal of Atahuallpa’spersona.In this essay I plan to show how three different interpretative traditions within colonial discourses make the illegitimate child of Huayna Capac either an active protagonist of civilization or of barbarism depending on the point of view of the enunciating...

  24. Chapter 21 Art and Resistance in the Andean World
    (pp. 629-677)
    Teresa Gisbert

    The encounter between the native Andean peoples and the Spaniards was to favor the invaders, for the Inca empire, which had previously dominated the entire region, was in the midst of a civil war. The ethnic lords of the south supported Huascar, whose court was in Cuzco,¹ while his half brother, Atahuallpa, dominated the north. The Spaniards met Atahuallpa in Cajamarca, and it was there that they killed him.

    Atahuallpa’s death was not mourned by Huascar’s sympathizers, who saw in the conquistadors a handful of men with whom an agreement could be reached. Such was the “Herod-like” attitude of Paullo...

  25. Chapter 22 Saer’s Fictional Representation of the Amerindian in the Context of Modern Historiography
    (pp. 678-708)
    Amaryll Chanady

    The Latin American novelistic production of the past few decades has contributed to the rereading, rewriting, and demystification of history and has thus frequently challenged hegemonic interpretations. Some of the most notable examples are Alejo Carpentier’sEl arpay la sombra (The Harp and the Shadow),in which the Cuban author analyzes the economic discourse characterizing Columbus’s reports of the New World and questions the evangelizing motivation of the Conquest, and Gabriel García Márquez’sEl general en su laberinto(The General in His Labyrinth), which demythologizes the figure of Simón Bolívar. One recent novel belonging to this category of histographic fictions...

  26. Chapter 23 An Image of Hispanic Americafrom from the Spain of 1992
    (pp. 709-728)
    Angel López García

    The Spanish Conquest of the American continent that began in 1492 is one of those historical topics that seem to leave no room for neutrality. From that year on, arguments both for and against the American enterprise have abounded: beginning with Las Casas’s report of genocide in hisBrevísima relación de la destructión de las Indias (Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies)and the corresponding exoneration of Ginés de Sepúlveda, and ending with the recent essays by Tvzetan Todorov and Xavier Rubert de Ventós— the former condemning, the latter revealing an absolving nature.

    I do not intend to...

  27. Contributors
    (pp. 729-736)
  28. Index
    (pp. 737-758)