Jorge Klor de Alva: Class Discussion Question

We decided to attack Question 2: 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.

pg 249 “The most important effect of colonialism in Latin America is said to be the genetic and cultural mixing that came to constitute the assumed distinct ‘ethnicity’ of almost every one of the American nations that had a large native population at contact.”

Klor de Alva argues that upon colonization, the indigenous populations of Latin America were harmed the most, nearly eradicating their culture and heritage as they were pulled into the cultures of the West. He also argues on page 248 that, “Colonialism, especially among contemporary subaltern people of former metropoles, is a strategic label: identification with the experiences connected with it can serve to mobilize insiders and distinguish them from outsiders.” When Latin America was colonized, the original inhabitants were distinguished from outsiders by their label as ‘colonized.’ He also recognizes on page 242 that our ideas of what colonialism means has changed and is now dependent of the context of the user.

We agree that his ideas can be applied to regions such as the Caribbean and North America because they too possessed Native populations that were affected by colonization. For example, the Native American Indians fell victim to the idea of a ‘colonized’ people by the British, as were Caribbean indigenous populations by the French, Spanish, and British. Essentially, this argument can apply to several historical examples regarding the hybridization of populations and the labels of colonialism.

As far as another part of the world for comparison, lets look at Australia and the indigenous Aboriginal peoples. As the British colonized Australia, the Aboriginal people became subject to the notion of a ‘colonized’ population, immediately labeling them as lesser in society. When colonizer and colonized began breeding, the hybrid offspring became the middle ground.

We are honestly unsure of elements left out of his essay, simply because his analysis seems so deep and thorough. But we brainstormed that the mestizo experience is the element most left out. The indigenous and the colonizer experience seem to be addressed, but the actual mestizo experience…where are the examples?

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