This post is in response to the question:
What is Klor de Alva’s argument about applying “colonialism” to Latin America? Does it apply equally to North America and the Caribbean? What is left out of his argument? Do you agree with his analysis of colonialism? Think about a colony in another part of the world to compare it with.
-Klor de Alva begins his essay by stating his previously written thesis that colonialism and postcolonialism were “mirages” in Latin American society and did not adequately represent the historical events of the non indigenous Latin and Anglo Americans. (Klor de Alva, 241). This essay is meant to respond to the critics of his previously written thesis and to argue the contemporary issues and how, “Latin American experience has been ‘colonized’ after the fact” (Klor de Alva, 241). However, Klor de Alva’s argument about applying “colonialism” to Latin America is captured in this statement, “But if this, and its use as a label in the periodization of Spanish American imperial period art, is all that is meant by colonialism or colonial, then I believe that the terms and their modern derivatives are ultimately not very useful when applied generally to the circumstances lived by the bulk of the population in the core areas of Latin America. A final reason for this is that the transportation and communications technology at the time, the type of economic and political organizations established, and the dynamics of shifting ethnic ratios all conspired to create regional, relatively autonomous sociopolitical and cultural units out of the growing mestizo/criollo worlds.” In this last specific sentence, Klor de Alva says that the societal structures and cultural developments that have grown over recent history cannot be evaluated adequately by the terms of colonialism and postcolonialism.
-In our response, the issue we discussed is that even the United States, a former colony of Great Britain, is very much shaped by colonial practices. The United States is a constitutional democracy, and our constitution, that upholds the values of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, is a direct result of the British colonial practices of the time. However, our society’s socioeconomic structure very much resembles the colonial practices of Britain. White, wealthy landowners were the pinnacle of colonial American socioeconomic status in society. That hasn’t changed. Now it is wealth, often white, and often male, business owners that enjoy most of the privilege in American society while minorities, women, and poorer people are dis-empowered by current societal norms that have developed from the colonial history of the country.
We felt that Klor de Alva left out the transformation of colonialism in “postcolonial” society. In fact, we argued that postcolonial society is a misnomer and we prefer the term neocolonial. The current stage of multinational capitalism reflects a corporate colonial practice that may not be explicitly political. In reality, the world is not rid of colonial practices and has not totally progressed from a colonial world to be “post” of. In conclusion, we disagree with de Alva’s assessment. Much of South and Latin America, both culturally and politically, is a result of their colonial history. Exceptions cannot be made that historical circumstances provide stronger explanations for current societal structures in Latin America.