La historia de los prejuicios en América : La Conquista

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Date

2006-12

Authors

Marroquín, Jaime, 1971-

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Abstract

This is a history of the relationship between prejudices and reality during the first century of the Spanish Conquest and colonization of America. The study deals particularly with the Discovery and Conquest of La Española and La Nueva España. The authors studied are Cristóbal Colón, Ramón Pané, Pedro Mártir de Anglería, Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo, Bartolomé de las Casas, Hernán Cortés, Francisco López de Gómara, Bernal Díaz del Castillo, Vasco de Quiroga, Toribio de Benavente "Motolinía", Diego Durán, Bernardino de Sahagún and José de Acosta. There is a change in the perception of reality during the Renaissance. It brings a separation between the realms of the earthly and the divine as well as a glorification of the self, known today as individualism. There is also a great tension between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in Spain. A way of seeing the world that privileges the divine fights ferociously with another one that suddenly has an immense need to understand the real, concrete world. This tension makes the study of the early descriptions and interpretations of America particularly interesting. They document the ways in which the Western imagination learns to apprehend reality in the very beginnings of the Modern Age. The writers of the Western Indies struggle with their words, their ideas, their faith and their own life in their attempt to describe and understand the New World. The process is highly complex and superbly exemplifies Marx's concept of ideology: the awareness that there is always a real and an imaginary way interacting with each other when we try to live and understand reality. Idealizations, prejudices, inventions, fantasies, destructions and abuses coexist in the texts of the "Cronistas de Indias" with a heroic effort to describe, understand, classify and explain a reality that is totally alien to their eyes and their mental schemes. This effort reaches an end with the triumph of the Counterreformation in Spain. All the early history of the New World had to be proof of a divine plan and so, many of the truths, methods and ideas that the early writers of America had gained, with a truly heroic effort to overcome ideological limitations, started to get lost once again.

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