Week 2 Colonial Legacies and African Formation of the Americas Essay

Discussion Essay #1 Prompt –How do we Know What we Know? and Colonial Legacies Pt. I: Native Peoples and Conquest

(Both parts to be posted in Discussion Board by this title)

Read all of your lecture notes and readings and see and take notes on our films through week 2, clipped here:

From week 1: Handouts/articles/film in Canvas on “How do we Know What we Know?”:

“The Secret Death of Pete Ray” (short LA Times article),

           “How Youtube Radicalized Brazil (Links to an external site.)” by Max Fisher, NYT, Aug. 11, 2019

           “Confederate Statues and ‘Our’ History (Links to an external site.)” by Eric Foner, NYT 8/2017, and

AHA Statement on Confederate Monuments (Links to an external site.) (2017)

           *Film clips: “Documenting Hate: Charlottesville (Links to an external site.)” (2018; see first 19 minutes)

From week 2: Colonial Legacies, Pt I: Native, European, and African Formation of the Americas

from Conquest to Independence (our Globalization 1.0)

Read: Chasteen, Born in Blood and Fire, ch. 2 “Encounter,”

Problems in Modern Latin American History (5th ed.) (Wood and Alexander from here out)

  1. 1-3 Chapter I. “Legacies of Colonialism” (intro)*
  2. 3-7 “Worlds Collide in Tenochtitlan” by Camila Townsend*
  3. 7-12 “Assessing Indian Labor” by Kris Lane*
  4. 21-25 “The Myth of Spanish Completion” by Mathew Restall*

See & take copious notes on films in Canvas: “Guns, Germs & Steel,” and

“Engineering an Empire: the Aztec”

Then write a two-part essay that addresses the following:


From week one readings and films: After having carefully read all of our articles on “How do we know what we know,” choose one major theme or idea that emerges from these articles (you can focus on one articles after having read them all) and tell us how that theme is important for the study of the Modern Americas.  Similarly, after having read the quotes on p. 8 of your syllabus and thought deeply about the multiple ways they force us to think about what we know (or what we think we know) and the ways that we have come to “know what we know”, choose one quote that resonates with you (that you like or that you find meaningful) and tell us why this quote is important for our learning. (Total length of this part: two well developed paragraphs)


From week two readings and films: write a well-developed essay in which you address the following:

From the short articles in Wood and Alexander, ch. I on Colonial Legacies, describe for us all of the ways that one of those articles (Townsend’s on the Conquest, Lane’s on Indigenous Labor, you choose one…) is important for our understanding of Latin America during the colonial era. Tell us about the different ways that different groups of people from Natives to Africans experienced colonialism (both of our books discuss this). Be sure to provide historical context from the rest of our readings (especially Chasteen’s ch. 2) and our films. (Total length of this part: two well developed paragraphs)

Length of your entire essay: four well developed paragraphs with specific examples

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