Discussion Forum 3 Questions

Discussion Forum 3 Questions

For Discussion Forum 3, select only one of the three prompts (1, 2, 3) below.  Each prompt has sub-questions to help focus your thoughts.

Please do not include the prompt questions in your forum, just your own work.

  1. How did Christopher Columbus perceive and describe the land and people he encountered when he arrived in the Western Hemisphere?
    • What is so peculiar about Columbus’ misconceptions of the native inhabitants of the island that came to be known by the Spanish as “Hispaniola?”
    • How do his ideas, and even the notion of him “discovering” the so-called “New World” suggest the notion of control and the social construction of race and culture in the Americas?
    • What was Columbus’ agenda regarding the Native people?
    • Has this discussion affected your understanding of Columbus and the idea of celebrating his legacy?
  2. What are the significant details and perspectives presented by Juan Gines de Sepúlveda and Bartolomé de las Casas in the Las Casas versus Sepulveda Debate?
    • What aspects of Sepulveda’s point of view are distinctive and peculiar given his background, status, and subject position?
    • What aspects of Las Casas’ perspective are peculiar given his background, status, and subjectivity?
    • How do both of their perspectives suggest the social construction of race and culture regarding the Native peoples?
    • Can you describe how the “logic” or “rationale” behind their thinking still functions today with regards to how people perceive different peoples and cultures?  Feel free to include discussion of any examples of how today’s media (mis)handles politicized debate concerning the plight of other peoples or marginalized ethnic groups (e.g. CNN, FOXNEWS, MSNBC, online news sites, Facebook “news” content, etc.).
  3. In summarizing the English settler colonizer perception of the people who already inhabited the North American continent, Ronald Takaki states, “All of these cultural constructs of Indians at this point in time were either the fantasies of Shakespeare or the impressions of policymakers and tract writers in London.”  He later adds, “The social construction of race occurred within the economic context of the competition over land.”
    • Taking into consideration the English colonists descriptions of Native American culture and agriculture provided by Takaki (or from other Native American sources), explain what he means by “cultural constructs” and how the “social construction of race” was detrimental to the indigenous peoples.
    • How were these constructed ideas utilized by the English colonists to justify their own actions?
    • Are there similarities between how the English and Spanish socially constructed the Native peoples of the Americas?

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