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Chapter 3

Chapter 3.docx

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Department
Anthropology
Course Code
AN101
Professor
Anne- Marie Colpron

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Chapter 3 – Colonialism
Todorov Text: Columbus and the Indians (Columbus’s misconceptions about the natives)
Columbus depictions of the Indians correspond to his own preconceptions and fantasies.  Already had
preconceived notions in terms of the people he will meet and their culture.
During the time, many of the European kingdoms were looking for routes to travel to Asia for goods,
spices, and so on. The knowledge that the world is round was newly discovered.
Christopher Columbus
He discovered America in 1492
He was loyal to the Spanish crown
He was looing for trade routes to the east
Columbus first impressions on the natives
Absence of clothing (absence of customs)
Absence of law, religion, and rites  Religion was basically the law during the time (Spanish inquisition).
A kind of white page on which Spanish religion and customs could be inscribed.
He was seeking to expand the Spanish territory and take the lands in the name of
Spain. The people in the lands would be vessels for the Spanish king and would
therefore absorb the Spanish culture and continue it in the surroundings.
Columbus Contradictions  These chronicles influence philosophers
The Indians are good, peaceful and generous
The Indians are savage, cruel and thieves.
Hobbes (1558-1679)
English Philosopher
Men living in a “state of nature.. has no idea of goodness he must be naturally wicked; that he is vicious
because he does not know virtue”.
Roussseau (1712-1778)
French Philosopher
He criticizes Hobbes’ theories
He brings the idea of the “Noble Savage”  A myth, no culture is perfect. All cultures has their flaws and
conflicts.
Men is born with morals and goodness, it is civilization that corrupts them.
Anthropologists try to depict the culture in is complexities
Columbus misunderstandings
He interprets the Natives through his own values:
Valorizing material wealth (generosity = stupidity)
Valorizing private property (taking = robbing)
Columbus failed to consider
What is valuable or not is a convention
A different system does not mean the absence of a system
The natives gave to Columbus to create an alliance with the new group; the natives give and they do not
receive back
Projecting our own values to try to understand the natives
Different behaviors are judged to be stupid of inconsequent because they are misinterpreted as imperfect
versions of ourselves (ethnocentrism)
This is a way of justifying domination and assimilation.
From assimilation to enslavement
The natives:
Are not considered as subjects.
Are treated as resources to exploit.  Something that could be used for the Spanish profit.
Epidemiologic Conquest
The natives were not immune to European viruses (influenza, smallpox)  The society becomes
completely broken, they cannot work or perform their daily rituals.
There were millions of natives living in America but because of the diseases, the small boats of
Europeans were able to completely wipe out tribes of natives.

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Description
Chapter 3Colonialism Todorov Text Columbus and the Indians Columbuss misconceptions about the natives Columbus depictions of the Indians correspond to his own preconceptions and fantasiesAlready had preconceived notions in terms of the people he will meet and their culture During the time many of the European kingdoms were looking for routes to travel to Asia for goods spices and so on The knowledge that the world is round was newly discovered Christopher ColumbusHe discovered America in 1492He was loyal to the Spanish crownHe was looing for trade routes to the eastColumbus first impressions on the nativesAbsence of clothing absence of customsAbsence of law religion and ritesReligion was basically the law during the time Spanish inquisition A kind of white page on which Spanish religion and customs could be inscribed He was seeking to expand the Spanish territory and take the lands in the name of Spain The people in the lands would be vessels for the Spanish king and would therefore absorb the Spanish culture and continue it in the surroundings Columbus ContradictionsThese chronicles influence philosophersThe Indians are good peaceful and generousThe Indians are savage cruel and thieves Hobbes 15581679English Philosopher
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