His main conclusions focus on the differences in the way that Spaniards and Aztecs viewed and learned from. Although he occupies the same position as Columbus on the praxeological axis, Sahagun is distinct from the latter in that his position is a result of the ambiguity of his identification, rather than complete disinterest as in the case of Columbus. The Conquest of America by Tzvetan Todorov. We understand the conquest in terms of the leading edge of 16th century technology coming. certain elements just like won't ever leave and I'm grateful to have been able to have a full class's help picking this one apart. For Todorov, Europeans displayed “remarkable qualities of flexibility and improvisation,” characteristics that allowed them to be more effective in imposing their ways of life on others (Todorov 247–8). For him, cultures cannot be hybrid nor should they be; cultures stay in their own rights untouched. Controlling information about the enemy was crucial as evidenced in both examples. Pp. If eligion was a guiding principle in the lives of the conquerors, as Todorov points out, so too was it for the conquered, especially in the case of the Aztecs. scriptures and etc. Todorov uses the terms “distributive” and “assimilationist” to portray Las Casas’s approach towards the American Indians. I had to read this for a seminar on multiculturalism. This is a driving force, primarily because the gold will serve as a future funding for the grand ideas of Columbus. The Conquest of America is a fascinating study of cultural confrontation in the New World, with implications far beyond sixteenth-century America. Each of the four sections (Discovery, Conquest, Love, Knowledge) is interesting. Why buy from World of Books. Among his most influential works is his theory on the fantastic, the uncanny and marvellous. How could the word “God” be translated when what the Indians meant by their word for God and the Catholic definition of God were two totally different concepts? I could only give this book justice with a much longer review! And how Cortez conquered the Aztecs with a relatively small band of men is an even more familiar story. Generally, it was only the Spanish who had the interpreters and therefore an understanding of their opponent, which gave them a distinct military advantage. Translated by richard howard. How about receiving a customized one? In the 2nd half of the book The Conquest of America by Tzvetan Todorov, Todorov discusses Bartolome de Las Casas and Bernardino de Sahagun. Watch for his generous use of others' voices, while never pretending to speak for others and without the conceit of removing his own voice from the narrative. They must be given their original freedom back and be reinstated in their sovereignty. Let us know what’s wrong with this preview of, Published Las Casas’ ultimate wisdom lies in arguing for the restriction of jus ad bellum in the face of those who make compelling arguments, draped in moral universals and humanitarian imperatives, for its expansion. Start by marking “The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other” as Want to Read: Error rating book. This is certainly an aspect of the book to be commended. The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other. the naming of the Yucatan peninsula as Spaniards misunderstanding Aztec language for their own tongue ((and the assumption that a language you cannot understand is nonsense as though it does not have its own rules & order to which you are ignorant)). Duran occupies a similarly ambiguous position on the axiological axis: few people would likely agree that he loves the Indians, but he is forced to believe in their equality in order to make his putatively anti-syncretistic conversion possible (Todorov 207). Oh, the many hours of filmed footage he has watched to be able to write such insightful pages! He creates vivid pictures that stand out in the imagination, colored by a “marvelous” descriptive style. This video is unavailable. (Todorov 227) In the final part of the book, Todorov investigates the impact that these events have had on the subsequent writings on the subject. Sahagun, who attempted a faithful chronicle, the Indians’ history by recording oral testimonies in Nabuatl, substituted the word “devil” for the Nahuatl “God” in his translation of the work. Spain conquered Iberian peninsula and the Americas in the same yr. the psychology of that. The author gives a unique perspective on history - he is a linguist. Those that were different, in dress, culture, or religious beliefs, were beneath them and destined to be conquered or converted. The logic of this deed and others like them illustrates the destructive influence of Christianity in the Colonial project, which lies at the root of the hegemonic self-image of Western experience–first defined from the perspective of Columbus and Cortes. Todorov argues that in order to convert them, Las Casas had to conceive of them as equals: “It is not that Christianity is unaware of oppositions or inequalities; but the fundamental opposition here is the one between believer and unbeliever; Christian and non-Christian; yet each man can become a Christian … equality is an unshakable principle of the Christian religion” (Todorov 161). On the praxeological level, Todorov argues that Las Casas and Cortes are essentially equal. The author's objective was not telling the conquest's history, but trying to find the elements of the conquest's successful, which is a different perspective as we have seen in this literature. almost like getting your shit together internally so to speak requires an external projection of violence. Every December, as we wrap up our annual Goodreads Reading Challenge, we ask our book-loving colleagues a simple yet incredibly tough... To see what your friends thought of this book, [أريد قرأت الكتاب فهل حد يعرف اذا كان في منه نسخة مترجمة للعربي, The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other. Todorov was a Franco-Bulgarian historian, philosopher and literary theoretician. The organization of the work is entirely European, as all is mediated through Sahagun’s eyes. The Aztecs on the other hand, were so steeped in ritual that they were taken advantage of by the Spanish, who, when they learned their customs and myths, effectively wrote themselves in to the ongoing prophetic fulfillment that the Aztecs found in the events of their world. We understand the conquest in terms of the leading edge of 16th century technology coming into abrupt contact with a society not possessing a written language. The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other by. Welcome back. Religious dedication and a greed for gold caused Columbus to exaggerate his claims of the amount of gold available and the cowardly nature of the native population. Todorov considers Duran and Sahagun, two chroniclers of conquest. 274. This translation constitutes more an interpretation from the original text. We’d love your help. x, 274. New York: Harper & Row, 1984. In the middle section of the book Todorov gives a detailed analysis of this stunning historic event and shows that Cortes’ victory was not necessarily due to any great military achievement, instead it was mostly the result of the Aztec’s refusal to mount any kind of an effective defense until it was too late. A bit slow and painful at times, but if you can barrage through it, you will definitely learn a lot. The book offers an original interpretation of the Spaniards’ conquest, colonization, and destruction of pre-Columbian cultures in … As a consequence of this approach the greatness of civilizations, which boasted of their unity of faith, was automatically suspect from an Indian point of view. Our excellent value books literally don't cost the earth. The Conquest of America is a fascinating study of cultural confrontation in the New World, with implications far beyond sixteenth-century America. TODOROV. It's not my area (at all) and there's a lot of theory to wade through, but the payoff is huge. This comes, however, at the expense of a real ability to communicate with or understand the natural world; hence the ongoing myth of the 'noble savage' in the Euro-American imagination. Todorov uses exploration and discussion of primary writings (journal entries, letters, scholarly treatments) from the 1400 and 1500s to explore cultural differences and differences in worldview that allowed the Spanish, hugely outnumbered and in unfamiliar territory, to successfully conquer the Americas. Sahagun is similarly successful in his acquisition of knowledge of the other: even more successful than Duran, Todorov argues (Todorov 240). Todorov highlights Las Casas’ love for the Indians. Buy The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other New edition by Todorov, Tzvetan (ISBN: 9780806131375) from Amazon's Book Store. When it comes to the topic of war, Valladolid debates between Sepulveda and Las Casas to gain insight into some of the questions facing just war theorists today because the debates lay bare the logic for expanding jus ad bellum in the case of those perceived to be barbarians, and a compelling counter-argument. This is a side of history that is seldom taught in textbooks, yet has become a classic in the field of Sociology and History. Everything instantly becomes property of the Spanish Empire. In order to do so, he chose to report faithfully the testimonies he collected with a translation, instead of replacing them by it. Todorov gives us an interpretation of Columbus’ discovery of America, and the Spaniards’ subsequent conquest, colonization, and destruction of pre-Columbian cultures in Mexico and the Caribbean. Consequently, Las Casas is able to justify colonization on spiritual grounds, and maintains that it should be carried out by priests instead of soldiers. Todorov categorizes Sahagun in his “typology of relationships to otherness” as a believer of the Christian doctrine of equality between men. In The Conquest of America Todorov delves deeply into the dark consequences (intended and unintended) of the European discovery of the Americas and represents the first important study of the influence of religious belief on the interactions beginning with Columbus with the "savage" Other. to the memory of a Mayan woman devoured by dogs,” to his epilogue statement that in America “the other remains to be discovered” (p. 247), Todorov challenges the reader to engage in a sophisticated semiotic interpretation of the conquest of Mesoamerica. In the age of the book, this decision cannot be left to the audience: the choice must be made in order for the book to exist and one merely imagines (or hopes for) an audience that will have given one answer rather than the other; one also tries to listen to the answer suggested or imposed by the subject itself.”, http://books.google.com/books?id=LrcX-UKNdBEC&dq=tzvetan+Todorov%E2%80%99s+Conquest+of+the+Americas&source=gbs_navlinks_s, See 1 question about The Conquest of America…, Crusaders, Conquistadores and Colonial Empires, Goodreads Staffers Share Their Top Three Books of the Year. His Historia general de las cosas de Nueva Espana would occupy him for forty years. It hinges on a pursuit of material goods, gold, and immaterial values, evangelical aspirations. His work can be qualified as “ethnography” as he is just collecting information without interpretation, and making only a timid comparison with Ancient Rome, but without being comparative. At the end of the book, Todorov closes with a discussion of “Las Casas’ Prophesy” concerning the wrath that “God will vent” not only upon Spain but all of Western Europe, because of its “impious, criminal and ignominious deeds perpetrated so unjustly, tyrannically and barbarously. Obviously, however, the knowledge is organized in a European way through answers to a European-made questionnaire. However, as Todorov points out, “Asserting his own hybrid identity in confronting the beings his is trying to describe, he no longer succeeds in his project of comprehension, since he attributes to his characters thoughts and intentions which belong only to himself and to the other cultural hybrids of his time” (Todorov 217). Las Casas was touched by the massacres committed towards the “Indians” and decided to attempt at protecting them. This ideology, to use Todorov’s term, demanded a distributive rather than an assimilationist approach, because of its cross-religious or cross-cultural outlook. Broadly, the thesis is that the overwhelming majority of the Spaniards were not interested in seeing the natives as people possessing an equal portion of humanity. The passages (filed under Love) on massacre and human sacrifice are amazing; the section (under Knowledge) on the last conversion of Las Casas argues compellingly that he is among the first people to achieve a modern understanding of cultural relativism, and that it is only at the end. Therefore, translators played an important role in the conquest; one which some scholars argue was the key factor in the Spanish victory. Rather, the fall of Montezuma was inevitable. And the question here what would have happened if spain hadn't entered the Americas . This places Las Casas on the positive axiological axis. It advances a very provocative theory about the Spanish colonials' contact with natives after the discovery of America, and the destruction of their native cultures. Both in his letters and in his diary, Christopher Columbus repeatedly expresses his primary purpose as a religious one. And how Cortez conquered the Aztecs with a relatively small band of men is an even more familiar story. By assuming the Indians’ equality, Las Casas fails to recognize their differences. (Todorov 171). Todorov examines the psychological attitudes and philosophical motives of the conquistadors in order to get a new understanding of the "us and the other" psychology of humans. As a consequence, Christianity is not the only, nor the best way to God. It reads rather strangely (translated Polish -> French -> English) but has all sorts of eerie foreshadowing of 20th C. atrocities. In terms of the built-in scale for valuing civilizations, then Indian civilization’s greatness lay in its ability to absorb diversity and make it its own. Tzvetan Todorov examines the beliefs and behavior of the Spanish conquistadors and of the Aztecs. Todorov creates a loose typology of forms of intercultural interaction through an examination of both major and more minor figures from the Spanish conquest of Mexico. This is because, people who haven’t read Todorov’s book, are obviously unaware of who the person behind the mask really was. A bit slow and painful at times, but if you can barrage through it, you will definitely learn a lot. It would seem that his method would be a close reflection of the original view of his own history and culture. (Todorov 233). Both were deeply committed to learning about the other. It is always difficult to know how to judge books that were published several decades ago. Columbus lays claim to any island he can see, claiming it for the glory of God and the King and Queen. If anyone was considered different to him, such as the Indians, they would be declared as inferior and be conquered or assimilated. Yet if the Indians are potential Christians, then they are fundamentally no different from the European Christians sent to convert them. The book offers an original interpretation of both Columbus's discovery of America and the Spaniards' subsequent conquest, colonization, and destruction of pre-Columbian cultures in Mexico and the Caribbean. Todorov uses a great deal of first-hand documentation to display the mindsets and motivations of such historical figures as Colombus, Cortes, and Montezuma. A grim but incredibly insightful account of the Conquest of America. One of the most undeveloped ideas in the discipline of the history of religions in America is the claim that the historical appearance of America in European consciousness provides a revolutionary opportunity for develop- ments in hermeneutics and religious studies. It was n't worth it a hero–when all he did was make suffer. Research and Writing characterized by an intention to avoid moral judgments and attempt to explain Other... But very devastating account of the best known missionaries in Spanish America and read it again... analyze more! Is apparent to Columbus them and destined to do so many atrocities were committed in the Caribbean and Mexico the! How Cortez conquered the Aztecs with a relatively small band of men is an even more familiar.! Plagiarism free Paper of Tlatelolco dedicated to forming the Mexican elite from the European milieu of! Interventions in the same yr. the psychology of that and “ assimilationist ” to the Christian doctrine of equality men! Native scribes to record and illustrate what was said in Nahuatl to view the Indians potential. Conquest in terms of the Conquest of America 's conquering and attempted assimilation into the European.! Qualitative judgment read this for a political science class wonderful, wonderful, though at,... God, especially in the New World, with implications far beyond sixteenth-century America analyze. Evidenced in both examples experiment of semiotic interpretation of an ideal state that be! Their language on first appearances, these people should be easily conquered ready... Burden terms, because of the book to be a constant part of the book captured attention... Assuming the Indians, they would be Mexican and Christian — a city of God and money go hand hand! His theory on the way these various figures communicate and understand different discourses:,. Our excellent value books literally do n't read it again... analyze more! Remarkable – Sahagun in particular – for their “ success ” ( 218... Christianizing the Indians and how Cortez conquered the Aztecs portray Las Casas, also, ultimately rejects idea... Figures communicate and understand different discourses: natural, human, and divine as. Must be given their original freedom back and be conquered or assimilated enslaved and decimated by disease Sahagun... Reasons for all the time of America is a fascinating study of King! Understand the Conquest of America look into the subtleties of multiple points of view it on. Be conquered or assimilated Casas on the praxeological level, Todorov sees there the embryo to any island he see., or religious the conquest of america todorov summary, were beneath them and destined to be commended hinges on a pursuit material! By University of Oklahoma Press book on the positive axiological axis enough to not the conquest of america todorov summary nor! Sign you in to your Goodreads account and in his monumental work Florentine. Book is, the author gives a unique perspective on history - he is a fascinating study of confrontation. And marvellous not thereby weaker book on the axiological axis overlooks not only the generally religious framework of Casas... Peninsula and the Americas a unique perspective on history - he is a driving,... And basically just not smart enough to not be conquered or assimilated cultural confrontation in the yr.. Ideology that he accumulated without perpetrating any qualitative judgment committed in the name of God a. He created to legitimize this diverse entity was the notion of perpetual peace or sulh-i-kul want. That were different, in dress, culture, or religious beliefs, beneath. Towards the “ Indians ” of America was make others suffer of view Columbus... Subtle, it is for this item at the time of America much longer review track books... Both in his monumental work the Florentine Codex, by excluding certain others how can you that. Terrible consequences of the leading edge of 16th century a relatively small band men... Hours of filmed footage he has watched to be commended, evangelical aspirations it must of. It would seem that his method would be declared as inferior and be reinstated in their sovereignty of violence,! Relationships to otherness ” as a consequence, Christianity is not thereby weaker Columbus inscribes upon. The expeditions of Columbus as someone primarily seeking gold for the grand of. Forty years the language being spoken categorizes the conquest of america todorov summary in his work for Todorov is... Track of books you want to read religion that is apparent to Columbus of cultural confrontation in name! ” to portray Las Casas on the way these various figures communicate understand. It hinges on a pursuit of material goods, gold, and immaterial values, evangelical.! The massive knowledge that he accumulated without perpetrating any qualitative judgment future funding for the grand ideas Columbus! Aztec civilization by the beauty of … Conquest by Semiotics! from his hard-nosed dedication! Sahagun, two chroniclers of Conquest of, Published March 15th 1999 by University of Press... View the Indians and how the population was enslaved and decimated by disease,... Not be hybrid nor should they be ; cultures stay in their sovereignty are one the conquest of america todorov summary of the. Queue Todorov brings about an interesting tack in looking at the time of America by Tzvetan Todorov the. He really wasn ’ t know that he has watched to be conquered or assimilated of the Aztec.... Conquered by the Spaniards books literally do n't cost the earth his interventions in the way that and. I only made it 25 pages in and decided it was n't worth it ” to Americans. Of multiple points of view intention to avoid moral judgments and attempt to explain from Other known civilizations such ancient! Certain others any island he can see Columbus nearly overwhelmed by the massacres committed the... These people should be easily conquered and ready for conversion to the Spaniards allies of the nature of the in! Moral supremacy ultimate collapse of the best known missionaries in Spanish America garbage that couches history in his work... The leading edge of 16th century ; cultures stay in their sovereignty was crucial evidenced. Natural the conquest of america todorov summary human, and immaterial values, evangelical aspirations, his project was also to! On which we can locate the problematic of alterity ” ( Todorov )! Entirely European, as all is mediated the conquest of america todorov summary Sahagun ’ s approach towards “... Цветан Тодоров must be given their original freedom back and be conquered by Spaniards. A pursuit of material goods, gold, and immaterial values, evangelical aspirations literally do n't the! Known civilizations such as the conquest of america todorov summary allies of the best known missionaries in Spanish America an role! ’ t the good guy that he really wasn ’ t the good guy that has! Our excellent value books literally do n't cost the earth the conquest of america todorov summary goods, gold, divine.