Latin America: An Institutional and Cultural Survey

Asynchronous Blog Post on An Exterminating Bolt of Lightning

“Fighting for their freedom, slaves played a crucially important role in winning independence for Spanish South America, and in so doing they triggered the programs of gradual emancipation enacted during those years.”

-George Reid Andrews, “An Exterminating Bolt of Lightning” (Page 64)

Asynchronous Blog Post


Pick ONE of the following four reflection options and post your answer in the comment section down below. 200-word minimum. Deadline: 10/7 before the class


.What were the different takes about whether or not to arm enslaved people? (Pages 60-62)

.Discuss the importance of military service, the free womb laws, and manumission for the decrease of the enslaved population in Latin America? (Pages 62-65)


.Explain why the institution of slavery was re-inforced in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Brazil (Pages 67)

.How does the expansion of the slave trade during the early 18oos intensified “all the conflicts and divisions of a slave-owning society” in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Brazil (Page 77)


.Describe the final days of slavery in Brazil? What factors contributed to the final “strike” and exodus to quilombos? (Pages 82-3)

.Andrews analyzes that the triumph against slavery in Cuba and Puerto Rico was a product of a large political crisis that “broke the unity of ruling elites and created openings through which the slaves could strike for freedom.” Expand. (Pages 83-4)


Respectfully interact with ONE of your classmates’ responses. Do you agree with their arguments and interpretations? Do you disagree? What other observations about George Reid Andrew’s chapter do you want to bring into the discussion?

An Unthinkable History: The Haitian Revolution as a Non-Event- Trouillot

Entry Question

What topics from the texts (essays; films; documentaries articles) we have discussed during the first half of the semester would you like to see included in the midterm? Would you like to propose a question?

Silencing the Past

“Trouillot suggested that the Haitian Revolution was (and in many ways remains) an “unthinkable” event: that the idea of enslaved populations rising up and not only resisting slavery but also achieving self-determination and forging entirely new conceptual categories of freedom and equality was beyond the grasp of both observers and participants. ”

-Yarimar Bonilla, “Burning Questions: The Life and Work of Michel-Rolph Trouillot 1949-2012”

There were doubts at times. But the planters’ practical precautions aimed at stemming individual actions or, at worst, a sudden riot. No one in Saint-Domingue or elsewhere worked out a plan of response to a general insurrection.

Although by no means mono­lithic, this worldview was widely shared by whites in Europe and the Americas and by many non-white plantation owners as well. Although it left room for variations, none of these variations included the possibility of a revolutionary uprising in the slave plantations, let alone a successful one leading to the creation of an independent state. (73)

Resistance did not exist as a global phenomenon. Rather, each case of unmistakable defiance, each possible instance of resistance was treated separately and drained of its political content. (83)

The Haitian Revolution did chal­lenge the ontological and political assumptions of the most radi­cal writers of the Enlightenment. The events that shook up Saint-Domingue from 1791 to 1804 constituted a sequence for which not even the extreme political left in France or in England had a concep­tual frame of reference. They were “unthinkable” facts in the framework of Western thought. (82)

Oral/slide presentations on “An Unthinkable History” (Pages 70-88)


Gonzalez-Pinon,Ramschel Thais


“Pass the mic” activity

Read one of Trouillot’s central concepts (The West; Man; Abolition and Resistance) and “translate” it orally and concisely into your own words.

The West

The West was created somewhere at the beginning of the six­teenth century in the midst of a global wave of material and symbolic transformations. The definitive expulsion of the Mus­lims from Europe, the so-called voyages of exploration, the first developments of merchant colonialism, and the maturation of the absolutist state set the stage for the rulers and merchants of Western Christendom to conquer Europe and the rest of the world…

These political developments paralleled the emergence of a new symbolic order. (74)

What is Man?

Philosophers who discussed that last issue could not escape the fact that colonization was going on as they spoke. Men (Europe­ans) were conquering, killing, dominating, and enslaving other beings thought to be equally human, if only by some. (75)

In the horizon of the West at the end of the century, Man (with a capital M) was primarily European and male. On this single point everyone who mattered agreed… westernized (or more properly, “westernizable”) humans, natives of Africa or of the Americas, were at the lowest level of this nomenclature. (76)

The lexical opposition Man-versus-Native (or Man- versus-Negro) tinted the European literature on the Americas from 1492 to the Haitian Revolution and beyond. (82)


By the middle of the eighteenth century, “black” was almost univer­sally bad. What had happened in the meantime, was the expan­sion of African-American slavery… Blacks were inferior and therefore enslaved; black slaves behaved badly and were therefore inferior. In short, the practice of slavery in the Americas secured the blacks’ position at the bottom of the human world. With the place of blacks now guaranteed at the bottom of the Western nomenclature, anti-black racism soon became the cen­tral element of planter ideology in the Caribbean.  (77)

The Enlightenment, nevertheless, brought a change of perspec­tive. The idea of progress, now confirmed, suggested that men were perfectible. Therefore, subhumans could be, theoretically at least, perfectible. More important, the slave trade was running its course, and the economics of slavery would be questioned in­creasingly as the century neared its end. Perfectibility became an argument in the practical debate: the westernized other looked increasingly more profitable to the West, especially if he could become a free laborer. (80)


Behind the radicalism, of Diderot and Raynal stood, ultimately, a project of colonial management. It did indeed include the aboli­tion of slavery, but only in the long term, and as part of a process that aimed at the better control of the colonies. Access to hu­man status did not lead ipso facto to self-determination. (81)

The sole sustained campaign of the self-proclaimed Friends of the Blacks was their effort to guarantee the civil and political rights of free mulatto owners. (87)


Built into any system of domination is the tendency to proclaim its own normalcy. To acknowledge resistance as a mass phenomenon is to acknowledge the possibility that something is wrong with the system. Carib­bean planters, much as their counterparts in Brazil and in the United States, systematically rejected that ideological conces­sion, and their arguments in defense of slavery were central to the development of scientific racism. (84)

The evocation of a slave rebellion was primarily a rhetorical device. The concrete possibility of such a rebellion flourishing into a revolution and a modern black state was still part of the unthinkable. (85)

Asynchronous Blog Post on Egalité For All: Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian Revolution

“The revolution had begun when various elements of the colony’s free population […] took up arms against each other and went to war. The resulting turmoil and disorder, and the breakdown of coercive controls on the island’s sugar plantations, gave the slaves […] the opportunity to rise up and go to war on their own behalf […] the lessons  to be drawn from Haiti were obvious: wherever large populations of nonwhites lived under conditions of forced labor, political revolution could all too easily become social revolution.” (Page 54)

-George Reid Andrews, “An Exterminating Bolt of Lightning: The Wars for Freedom”

Asynchronous Online Assignment


1. Watch the documentary Egalité for All: Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian Revolution

2. Pick ONE of the following options and respond in the comment section down below or via email (meme). The deadline is 9/30 before the class.


In which way the violence against French colonists and enslavers in the early and last stages of the revolution was a response to the conditions of slavery in the plantations and to colonial rule? (Suggested minutes: 15:20-23:23; 47:02-52:00)


Discuss the major role of Toussaint Louverture in the revolution (Suggested minutes: 9:20-11:08; 20:42-22:30; 23:26-29:00; 31:15-33:20; 36:15-41:15)


Create a meme on one of the aspects you learned about the Haitian Revolution (please, send it by email). Add a short explanation to your piece and make reference to direct scenes or sequences from the documentary.


Respectfully interact with ONE of your classmates’ responses or artwork. Do you agree with their arguments and interpretations? Do you disagree? What other observations about Egalité for All do you want to bring into the discussion?


Memes on the Haitian Revolution  

(Fall 2021)

by Laura Portillo Carrillo

The meme I created is based on the events that commenced the ​​Haitian revolution. At minute 18:42 of the documentary, the experts break down the start of the revolution by explaining that ​​Haitians chose to fight using the same violence they had endured all these years. That night, slaves burned sugar plantations, burning the system that prospered off the blood, sweat, and tears of thousands of slaves. This destruction was a turning point in history and showed the world they wanted independence and would do anything for it. I knew I wanted to create a meme, so when I watched this scene, I thought that this picture somewhat captured the essence of how enslaved people may have felt when they chose to take control and fight for independence.

by Tony Shu

My meme portrays the reaction of the Haitian rebels when Toussaint Louverture wants them to return to work in the sugar cane fields. In the documentary Egalité for All: Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian Revolution, at minute 42:22, it is described how Napoleon’s coup d’tat is worrying for Toussaint due to the possibility of Napoleon reinstating slavery in French colonies. As a result, Toussaint wants to quickly build Saint-Domingue’s economy through the trade of sugar and establish peace. The Haitians express discontent with returning to the work they did under slavery, but Toussaint stands firm with his decision and forces them to go back to the sugar cane fields (43:19). This situation was dire and Toussaint Louverture made a tough decision that was not exactly a return to slavery but was unpopular with former slaves.

by Diara Dominguez

At the start of the revolution, Toussaint came to lead the freed slaves and gave them a purpose. They wanted to kill the white prisoners to send a message but Toussaint knew that trying to negotiate with the white men might yield a better outcome, one where many people wouldn’t have to die. Unfortunately, the white men victimized themselves and refused to “forgive” the people who have revolted. They ignored Toussaint’s wished for negotiations and decided to fight even though they were outnumbered.

by Ramschel Gonzalez Pinon

In this meme, I’m referring to minute 42:40 in the film when Toussaint forces his black followers to go back to the canes and plantation fields to rebuild their economy. at the beginning of the documentary its mentioned how Haiti is the richest country in the western hemisphere due to slavery. the hard labor they had to go through was the reason Haiti was doing well economically during the time. But because of the revolution, they had burnt down canes and plantations, and within a few years, Haiti began to decrease economically. Toussaint did a reasonable thing and forced his followers back into these canes and plantations to rebuild their economy. They (his followers) didn’t like the idea of this, no one would want to return to that kind of work, they thought of it as slavery. As a leader, Toussaint had to have realized his limits and taken actions or they would have had suffered the consequences of their actions.

by Fedir Usmanov

By this meme, I refer to the events that are being described after the 19th minute in the documentary movie, when the Haitian Revolution began led and inspired by Toussaint Louverture. Haitians were treating whites the same way they treated them when Haitians were slaves. The revolutionists burned down plantations and killed their ex-slave owners. These events showed the whole world that Haitians are ready to fight for their freedom and independence, so the rest of the slave owners had to escape the island in order to survive.

(Fall 2020)

by Derrick Tsang (LTS 1003 DWA)

by Delange Pierre (LTS 1003 DWA)

by Nicolas Altman (LTS 1003 DWA)

by Christian Nunez (LTS 1003 DWA)

by Alyssa Ramsaran (LTS 1003 DWA)

by Jessica Geyer (LTS 1003 DWA)

by Mia Tosic (LTS 1003 DWA)

by Simon De los Santos (LTS 1003 DWA)

by Alegna Gomez (LTS 1003 MFA)

by Danlu Ding (LTS 1003 MFA)

by Jin Lu (LTS 1003 MFA)

by Judy Ng (LTS 1003 MFA)

by Jason Chen (LTS 1003 MFA)

by Nathaly Angamarca (LTS 1003 MFA)

by Brian Macas (LTS 1003 MFA)

by Jenniffer Mora Barbecho (LTS 1003 MFA)

by Navin Daneshwar (LTS 1003 MFA)

by Ethan Luna (LTS 1003 MFA)

Tainos, Even the Rain and The Cochabamba Water Wars

Breakout Rooms Discussions

How do Taino rebellions of the early 1500s and the Cochabamba water wars of the early 2000s as represented by Even the Rain resemble? Under the global climate crisis, is water the new gold?

Pick a leader to take notes and report back.

Oral/slide presentations




Cochabamba Water War- Historical Context

“[In 1998] in an attempt to stimulate economic development in the country, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) persuaded the government to allow privatization of formerly state-owned industries. This included SEMAPA, Cochabamba’s water company. In the year that followed, citizens saw price hikes in their water supply due to tariffs that SEMAPA had introduced. Nonetheless, the World Bank discouraged the Bolivian government from providing subsidies. According to The New Yorker’s William Finnegan, the World Bank’s decision was all part of it and the IMF’s broader plan to encourage “market discipline and efficiency.”

Their plan failed miserably in reducing poverty. Aguas del Tunari, a subsidiary of the US-based multinational company Bechtel, purchased Cochabamba’s water distribution system. Soon thereafter, the company raised water prices even further — in some cases by upwards of 50 percent. Bechtel denies that the price of water increased in Bolivia to this extent as well as any wrongdoing in the matter. Still, in December 2005, Bechtel and the Bolivian government released a statement announcing the termination of “the concession for the supply of water services and related contracts to the city of Cochabamba.”

Nithyani Anandakugan

An ongoing crisis

Two decades have passed since the original water crisis in Bolivia. The dust has settled on the matter of water privatization, but the country still faces issues related to its water supply. A 2017 report from Public Radio International (PRI) noted that Bolivia “is suffering from its worst drought in 25 years.” Ill-equipped to handle this new crisis, the country once again found itself in a state of emergency except this time the shortage is not artificial due to astronomical prices, but rather environmental.

While the Bolivian people suffered from economic neocolonialism during the Cochabamba Water Wars, this time the issue lies in large part with mismanagement of water on the part of the state. Water conservation has been a major issue that the government ignored for years, leading to a naturally occurring drought to be exacerbated into full crisis.

Open Group Discussion

Reflecting on the ongoing water crisis, David Solnit argues that “Bolivian social movements catalyzed by the Water War are, perhaps, the most radical and visionary in the world with their mass participatory, democratic and horizontal way of organizing and mobilizing, drawing on the communitarian roots of the majority indigenous country.” He highlights the 2010 Feria del agua and Water Committees as examples of community-led projects of autogestión (self-management).

Thinking of the Bolivia case, what do you think about the indigenous strategies of questioning the concept of the public and creating a horizontal self-managed organization to deal with the effects of climate change, corporate and governmental mismanagement?

Asynchronous Blog Post on Even the Rain

While making a film about the incursion of Christopher Columbus in the Caribbean, a Mexican director and a Spanish producer find the Bolivian indigenous people protesting contemporary exploitation and claiming the rights to water and ultimately dignity and survival.


Watch Even the Rain (Icíar Bollaín, 2011) and choose ONE prompt. Post your answer in the comment section below. 200-word minimum. Due on 9/23 before the class. 

If you do not have access to Netflix and cannot rent it on iTunes, please see OPTION FOUR down below.


In his landmark essay Discourse on Colonialism Martinican poet, playwright, and politician, Aimé Césaire argues:

“What, fundamentally, is colonization? To agree on what is not: neither evangelization, nor a philanthropic enterprise, nor a desire to push back the frontiers of ignorance, disease, and tyranny nor a project undertaken for the glory of God, nor an attempt to extend the rule of law […] colonial activity, colonial enterprise, colonial conquest […] is based on contempt for the native and justified by that contempt. ” (Pages 32, 41)

Discussing at least two scenes, answer this question:

.How does the film Even the Rain showcases the hypocrisy and tyranny that Césaire describes when examining colonialism?


Discussing at least two scenes, answer this question:

.How does the film crew WITHIN the film reproduces the same colonial mentalities and practices they are representing in their Christopher Columbus movie?


Discussing at least two scenes, answer this question:

.How does the contemporary issue of access to water connects to the Taino people’s resistance in the Caribbean?

OPTION FOUR (for people without access to Even the Rain)

In his landmark essay Discourse on Colonialism Martinican poet, playwright, and politician, Aimé Césaire argues:

“What, fundamentally, is colonization? To agree on what is not: neither evangelization, nor a philanthropic enterprise, nor a desire to push back the frontiers of ignorance, disease, and tyranny nor a project undertaken for the glory of God, nor an attempt to extend the rule of law […] colonial activity, colonial enterprise, colonial conquest […] is based on contempt for the native and justified by that contempt. ” (Pages 32, 41)

Discussing at least two scenes, answer this question:

.How does the film Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Werner Herzog, 1972) showcases the hypocrisy and tyranny that Césaire describes when examining colonialism?

Dubbed English Version:

Original German Version:


Respectfully interact with ONE of your classmates’ responses. Do you agree with their arguments and interpretations? Do you disagree? What other observations about Even the Rain or Aguirre, The Wrath of God do you want to bring into the discussion?


*A note on acknowledging secondary sources *

Especially with films, there is a lot of criticism available on the internet that could help you develop your reflections. I want to read especially your own interpretations, but, if you do research you are welcome to bring SOME ideas from a secondary source (an article; review; etc.) If you do, please make sure to acknowledge the authors and thinkers and include in-text citations (quotes).

Example of in-text citations:

As critic X argues in his/her article X: “The indigenous people…”

Reviewer X proposes that: “Indigenous people in the Americas…”

YouTube commenter X suggests that: “Indigenous resistance was…”

Tainos: Mythology and Cosmology (Chapter 7)- Sebastián Robiou Lamarche

Entry Questions

After watching the video, discuss in the chatbox:

.What is the function of this myth?

.What aspects of Caribbean eco-systems and/or Taino society, the myth looks to explain?

Sebastián Robiou Lamarche is a historian dedicated primarily to the study of the Tainos and Caribs, the two main indigenous people of the Caribbean. The chapter “Tainos: Mythology and Cosmology” from his book Tainos and Caribs The Aboriginal of the Antilles offer us a description of the recuperated Taino myths, ancestral storytelling, cosmology, and spiritual views.

Oral/slide presentations on the essay “Tainos: Mythology and Cosmology” (Chapter 7)



Caraballo,Katelin Regalada


Robiou Lamarche organizes his re-count of Taino myths by dividing them into different cycles.

The first cycle (pp.106-110) describes Taino origins  in the spiritual realm:

.Yaya also know as Yocahú is the spirit, cause, and essence of life. He lives in heaven and is immortal. He has no beginning and his mother is Atabey.

.With Atabey we can identify the feminine/fertility principle in Taino culture.

.The struggle with son Yayael leads to a sacrifice and the creation of our world. It also initiates the cult of ancestors.

The second cycle (pp. 110-112) corresponds to the creation of the Taino universe in the Antilles:

.The Tainos emerged in the Caribbean from Ayiti (Haiti).

.Caves were considered a kind of uterus, the portal of entry and exit to the underworld.

.When leaving the cave some Tainos were transformed by the sun into different natural beings: stone, tree, and bird.

.These myths let us know the deep connection between Tainos and their ecosystems.

The third cycle (pp.113-115) is dedicated to the formation of Taino Society:

.Guahayona and Anacacuya were among the first Taino to emerge from the Cacibajagua cave.

.Their troubled relationship lets us understand the division of power and gender within Taino society.

.Guahayona separates women from men and submerges Anacacuya into the sea.

.Anacacuya, the mythical cacique, is associated with both the underwater world and with Polaris, the star at the center. Astronomical knowledge was a pursuit of Antillean Tainos.

.Guahayona, the behique or shaman, is connected to navigation, travels, and spiritual rituals.

The fourth cycle (pp. 116-117) is the stage of growth, development expansion, and consolidation of Taino people.

.The ancestors of Taino women are androgynous celestial beings.

.The women were transformed by woodpeckers by carving Jobo trees.

.This cycle represents the reunification of men and women.

Group Discussion

Pass the baton activity

According to the video, in which ways have the native Taino legacy perdured in Puerto Rico?

Asynchronous Blog Post on Tainos: Myth and Cosmology (Chapter 8)

In the comment section down below pick ONE of the options and write a response (200-words minimum). The deadline is 9/9 before the class:


Expand on how the yucayeques or Taino villages had a social and cosmological organization. (122-125)


Describe and explain the importance of areíto ceremonies and ball games in Taino societies? (Pages 119-122; 125-128)

*Recommended Video:
Once Upon a Time in Puerto Rico (Daniel Ramirez, 2016)

4:40- 7:40 (Areito sequence)


Why Chacuey in the Dominican Republic is considered an important site to understand the Tainos’ perceptions of time and astronomical knowledge? (Pages 129-132)


Respectfully interact with ONE of your classmates’ responses. Do you agree with their arguments and interpretations? Do you disagree? What other observations about chapter eight do you want to bring into the discussion?

Discourse on Colonialism- Aimé Césaire

Entry Question

Beyond the “three gs” of la conquista española presented by Khan Academy, what other intentions and gains the conquistadores had?

Use the chatbox to answer.

Discourse on Colonialism

Poet, playwright, political theorist, and politician Aimé Césaire was born June 26, 1913, in Basse-Pointe, Martinique in the French Caribbean.

He is the author of Discourse on Colonialism (Monthly Review Press, 1950), a book of essays which has become a classic text of Francophone political literature and helped establish the literary and ideological movement  of Negritude, a term Césaire defined as “the simple recognition of the fact that one is black, the acceptance of this fact and of our destiny as blacks, of our history and culture.”

“We lived in an atmosphere of rejection, and we developed an inferiority complex. I have always thought that the black man was searching for his identity. And it has seemed to me that if what we want is to establish this identity, then we must have a concrete consciousness of what we are- that is,  of the first fact of our lives: that we are black; that we were black and have a history, a history  that contains certain cultural elements of great value; and that Negroes were not, as you put it, born yesterday, because there have been beautiful and important black civilizations.”


Robin D. G. Kelley on Césaire 

What are the central ideas of this writer, thinker, or artist?

Main argument: Europe is a “decadent,” “stricken,” “dying” civilization and that is “morally, spiritually indefensible.” (31-32)

“To agree on what it is not [colonialism]: neither evangelization, nor a philanthropic enterprise, nor a desire to push back the frontiers of ignorance, disease, and tyranny, nor a project undertaken for the greater glory of God, nor an attempt to extend the rule of law. ”

Analyze one specific section by your chosen author that best communicates what you identified in the question above.

“I find that hypocrisy is of recent date; that neither Cortez discovering Mexico from the top of the great teocalli, nor Pizzaro before Cuzco (much less Marco Polo before Cambuluc), claims that he is the harbinger of a superior order; that they kill; that they plunder; that they have helmets, lances, cupidities; that the slavering apologists came later; that the chief culprit in this domain is Christian pedantry, which laid down the dishonest equations Christianity = civilization, paganism = savagery, from which there could I not but ensue abominable colonialist and racist consequences, whose victims were to be the Indians, the Yellow peoples, and the Negroes.”

Césaire distinguishes two historical stages, one that is about showing military power (la conquista) which is unapologetically violent and sadist. The second overlapped stage, colonization, or the establishment of colonial society, requires the imposition of ideology (intellectual production; reasoning; equations; apologies; laws; codes) and the eradication of native cultures and languages and eventually those of the enslaved (we can circle back to Césaire’s interview here).

Two examples: the encomienda and the casta systems (see video 5:55 on).

Pose a critical question about the text to the group.

Rejecting the equation colonialism/Christianity = civilization, Césaire proposes a new equation that says “colonization = thingification” (42). What do you understand by that? Can you think of contemporary forms of colonization?

Use the chatbox to answer.


“Between colonizer and colonized there is room only for forced labor, intimidation, pressure, the police, taxation, theft, rape, compulsory crops, contempt, mistrust, arrogance, self-complacency, swinishness, brainless elites, degraded masses.

No human contact, but relations of domination and submission which turn the colonizing man into a classroom monitor, an army sergeant, a prison guard, a slave driver, and the indigenous man into an instrument of production.” (42)