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Critical Commentary on 'The Coming of the White People' - Essay Example

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Critical Commentary on 'The Coming of the White People' The work ‘The coming of the white people. Reflections on the mythologisation of history in Latin America’ by Olivia Harris (1995) looks into the reasons why and how the coming of Europeans had a very huge impact on the history of most colonies…
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Critical Commentary on 'The Coming of the White People'

Download file to see previous pages... As Harris reports, the Bolivian people love to believe that the decisive periods are ‘before the Spanish, colonial rule, and the republican period’ (ibid). According to Harris (1995), this Euro-centric history of most colonial nations had its origin from the concepts of rationality and order associated with the European modernism and consequent self-image Europeans developed. This high self-image had a very serious impact on the cultures and places they conquered. One such reason is that it is the coming of the colonial government that made many colonies understand the importance of written documents. For example, the scholar points out that works like ‘Europe and the people without history’ are totally centered around the way the coming of Europeans brought the previously autonomous populations into the European world system (ibid). Another point as put forward by Harris is that the process of colonisation had the same effect on both the Europeans and the colonies. In other words, the same has been mythologised in both the places. It is pointed out by Harris that Columbus was a great mythologist who knew very well how to prepare influential interpretations of the voyages he made. Moreover, such explorers like Thomas Cook and Columbus associated their explorations with the achievement of a new spirit associated with either Enlightenment or Renaissance. One can see that this claim gains support from Obeysekere (1997, p. 79). Moreover, the works tries to identify the way many colonies consider Europeans as god-like figures. The first argument put forward by the scholar is that in many cases, it was the self-image of the Europeans themselves that was reflected in their own reflections of history. For example, the scholar points out the story behind the way Captain Cook was considered as god by Hawaiians. While European historians still love to proclaim that Hawaiians identified Cook with their deity Lono, it becomes evident from other accounts that Europeans were predisposed to the belief that they would be treated as gods by the natives. For example, even during the voyage, Columbus speculated that the new people might treat them as gods. Thus, even when Cook was killed by the natives, the same kind of European interest in depicting themselves as god-like figures came into play. In fact, this version of history is enforced by the Europeans on the world because at that point of time, written documents were almost entirely the provenance of Europeans. This point is supported by Sahlins (1995, p. 9). Very similar cases are reported by the scholar (Harris, 1995) in the case of Mexico and the encounter of Pizarro with King Atahualpa. In the first instance, Cortes’ arrival in Mexico was considered as the fulfillment of a prophecy related to the return of god Quetzalcoatl. It is point out by the scholar that evidently, Cortes made use of this prophecy and actively encouraged it to become a myth. In fact, very similar was the case of King Atahualpa. When the Spanish came under the leadership of Pizarro, the king Atahualpa felt that Viracocha had come. Admittedly it is even now common in that part of the world. While some historians like Sarmiento (1572) report that the king and his people considered Pizarro as Viracocha, people like Acosta (1590) go one step further ahead and claim that the natives called the Spanish Viracochas because they believed they ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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