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IDEOLOGY AND DISCOURSE ABOUT INDIGENOUS PEOPLES Making sense of The Other As we have seen, meeting of Old and New Worlds was cultural and ideological as well as material: crucial how people thought, spoke, and wrote about each other Discover and conquest in Americas opened up European intellectual horizons tremendously: knowledge of how great the world was and the variety of people in it Some expansion as contact with Africa and indirectly with Asia, then tremendous change after 1492 Indigenous Americans became prime examples of The Other, people seen as radically different. Alterity or radical otherness. Colonists had to make sense of the people they saw, to understand them. Not necessarily, dispassionate, objective, or disinterested Elaborated ideologies or discourses to justify conquest and domination, often denigrated subjects. Also developed ideas of selves as British or French or Spanish in distinction, by contrast with Indians. Sometimes Indians mere foil, stick figure for ideas that really about self Some theorists see such ideas as almost always being implicated in or as rationalizations for domination Most famous work, by Edward Said, Orientalism, study of European discourses about Middle East, about distorted and systematic set of ideas about Arabs etc. . A dicourse of this sort is stronger and more coherent than simple stereotype. Found throughout literary and historical works about region. By extension, all writings about others. But study of such discourses tricky. Problem of sampling: if range of ideas and opinions, depends what take as typical of rest. Also whether prove or just assume that always motivated by desire to dominate. Colley (in recommended reading) suggests that many of orientalist ideas about Middle East developed before European domination and expansion, in large part as reaction to feeling threatened by Barbary pirates and others. Also, question of whether always made up ideas out of whole cloth, totally imposed them, or whether interpretation of what encountered, construction rather than complete fabrication
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Transferring established stereotypes Just as conquerors and colonists transferred established patterns of action, also used well established ideas about others, many from antiquity or Middle Ages 1. Monsters. Thought that much of world beyond horizon populated by people with one eye, two heads, etc. Early travel writings full of them. Part of emphasis on wonders of other worlds. This why Columbus, in first reports, mentioned that no monsters seen. One specific kind, hairy man of forest, thought esp. likely. Kind of wild, natural man Soon learned that Indians esp. hairless, but continued interest in two themes: Indians as natural, elemental. Could be good or bad. Also continued reading of essential nature from external form, as with wicked
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