Latin America: An Institutional and Cultural Survey

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)

Asynchronous Blog Post on Discourse on Colonialism

In the comment section down below  write a response (200-words minimum) to a set of two questions (due on 9/2 before class):


.Césaire argues that colonization works to decivilize and brutalize the colonizer. He says that “a poison has been distilled into the veins of Europe and, slowly but surely, the continent proceeds towards savagery.” Explain. (Pages 35-36)

.Césaire holds that “nobody colonizes innocently.” Discuss what he means by that. (Page 39)


.Césaire proposes that colonization is based and justified on contempt for the native and that it changes the colonizer. Amplify. (Page 41)

.What are the effects of colonization on the colonized? (Page 43)


Respectfully interact with ONE of your classmates’ responses.

.Do you agree with their arguments and interpretations? Do you disagree?

.What other observations about Discourse on Colonialism do you want to bring into the discussion?

Oubao Moin- Juan Antonio Corretjer

Entry Question

During the period of European domination (1492-1898), what were some recurrent colonial practices happening throughout the Caribbean and Latin America?

Answer with a short sentence or phrase in the chat box.

Oubao Moin

The title of this song means “The Island of Blood” in the language of the Taino, the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean.  It was written by the celebrated Puerto Rican poet Juan Antonio Corretjer. The music was composed by Nueva Trova (folk) artists Roy Brown and Aires Bucaneros to tell the history of Boricuas and the hope of the poet and the musicians for an independent future. To this day it is an anthem of the pro-independence movement and a  celebration of working people everywhere in el Caribe. The song is also representative of Latin America as a whole as it discusses the struggle of indigenous, black, and indentured workers to be free from all forms of colonialism.

The Corozal river of the golden legend, its current carries gold, its current is bloodied. The River Manatuabón has the golden legend, its current carries gold, its current is bloodied. The River Cibuco writes its name with golden letters, its current carries gold, its current is bloodied. Where the plantation (arboleda) sank its roots in the golden ground, there the branches drip blood, the plantation (arboleda) is bloodied.

Where the Indian’s brow frowned, whether on land or water, under the weight of the chains, in prison irons, there the land stinks of blood, and the water is bloodied.

Where the black broke his shoulders, whether on land or water, and the branding iron marked his body and the whip opened his back, there the land stinks of blood, the water runs bloodied.

Where the poor white suffered the horrors of the labor gang under the machete of the overseer and the account book of the working day
There the land is cursed, the water runs poisoned.

Glory to those Taino hands because they worked. Glory to those black hands because they worked. Glory to those white hands because they worked. From those hands was brought forth our homeland.

Glory to the hands that dig the mines. Glory to the hands that care for the livestock. Glory to the hands that sow the tobacco, the cane, and the coffee. Glory to the hands that work the roads. Glory to the hands that turn the wheels. Glory to all the hands of all the men and women who work.

And glory to the hands, all the hands that work today, because they build and from them shall come the newly liberated country. Praise! For them and for their homeland. Praise!

Group Discussion

.The song “Oubao Moin” proposes to look at the past to start imagining transformations in society and (decolonial) futures, do you agree with these ideas?

.How do history, poetry, and the arts help to bring change in our individual and collective lives?