HIstory’s Correlations with Modern Society

Though all of the ancient empires and civilizations were thoroughly interesting to learn about, I could not help but feel most compelled those of the Americas. Perhaps it is an ethnocentric thing, as the effects of the rise and fall of the Aztecs, Mayans, Incas, and other civilizations have more effects on regions close to the United States than those of ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, or China. It was, nonetheless, very telling that almost each and every civilization of Mesoamerica and the Andes collapsed as a result of European interaction – though many of these collapses were more a result of widespread epidemic than that of pure conquer. I’m a student of history, but I mainly focus on the relatively modern era of American society – 19th century and later. However, I nonetheless have found that the instances I have learned a great deal about major events that had taken place hundreds of years ago, I can typically see the repercussions of said events later in time. One instance of this would be modern society in Mesoamerica. I had taken a class that dealt with Mesoamerican society in the (relative) present by putting the pieces together of its past. The most interesting thing about this class is the idea of major racism being completely evident and common place throughout much of Latin America. This racism stems from the stigma of “Indians,” or rather, the descendents of those great and vast empires and civilizations of the Andes and Mesoamerica that we had learned about in class over the past few weeks. We know that today, most citizens of Mesoamerica, Latin America, and the Andes region speak Spanish (though, there are still some pockets in the Andes that speak their native tongue, I’m told). This in and of itself represents the Spanish’s success in essentially wiping out a civilization. However, the many citizens of this region of Spanish descent refuse to those of Native American blood as equals to them, often referring to them as “Indians” in a very derogatory tone. This, of course, occurred in the United States as well, with legislation such as Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Act of 1830. However, it was not as vast, as the density of Native American peoples was much greater in Mesoamerica than in North America. The repercussions of the Spanish conquest of Mesoamerica and the Andes regions can still easily be seen today. I was a little a disappointed we did not go into the Mississippians, as I would be interested to see correlations with the present when looking at the past.

One thought on “HIstory’s Correlations with Modern Society

  1. Ashley Martin

    I do not believe that it is ethnocentric that you were most compelled to learn about Mesoamerica. Every individual has particular experiences and interests that shape their educational pursuits. I believe that the salient question of the 21st century is that the majority of students are presently asking themselves is how what they are learning relevant and applicable to their lives today. Learning about the history of this nation and surrounding areas is a beneficial way to interpret the social phenomena that you regularly witness as well as experience through your humanities education. I find myself also most interested in the cultural accounts and historical backgrounds of the Americas. I believe that it is also an essential component to the branching out of those interests into expanding exploratory interests beyond one’s native region. What I mean to say by this is that if you do not understand the sociopolitical events that have shaped one’s own culture it becomes increasingly difficult to understand one’s own paradigm and ethos. In turn this lack of understand such ideological concepts and constructs it is impossible to assess one’s own biases in trying to understand other cultures. Therefore the fact that you are making connections from Mesoamerica’s past to the present of the United States may ultimately prove productive and beneficial. Furthermore, the interests you expressed are extremely relevant to modern day social maladies plaguing the Unites States. Unfortunately our country has a tarnished legacy of institutionalized racism that has been perpetuated in our country’s governmental legislation.

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