Tag Archives: Hispanic History

Hispanic Heritage Month 2018 Post Scriptum: The Colonial Mentality

While preparing one or another blog posts for Hispanic Heritage Month 2018, I blithely used the term “colonial mentality:” I assumed this term described a way of thinking that enabled people like Cecil Rhodes or King Leopold II, to cite two more chronologically recent figures, to help themselves to lands, resources, and (usually forced) labor in countries not their own. Indeed, I took it for granted that the colonial mentality was both an integral part of and a justification for the uglier depredations of capitalism.

Maybe a couple of definitions of colonialism will clarify the phenomenon of colonialism, and therefore make the real meaning of the colonial mentality even more stark and tragic than it is. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia (Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000), in its definition of colonialism, characterizes it in part thus: “The purposes of colonialism include economic exploitation of the colony’s natural resources, creation of new markets for the colonizer, and extension of the colonizer’s way of life beyond its national borders.”

The Oxford Desk Encyclopedia of World History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006) uses its entry on colonialism to direct the reader to the book’s entry on imperialism, which goes further than Merriam-Webster in noting that “The Industrial Revolution introduced a new form of imperialism as European countries competed throughout the world both for raw materials and for markets. In the late 19th century imperial ambitions were motivated in part by the need for commercial expansion, the desire for military glory, and diplomatic advantage. Imperialism generally assumed a racial, intellectual, and spiritual superiority on the part of the newcomers.”

Innocently, I assumed that last sentence was the description of the Colonial Mentality I sought. As it turns out, it is the result of the colonizers’ sense of superiority that forms the Colonial Mentality. The term colonial mentality defines the internalized racism and sense of inferiority among the colonized themselves, not, as I took for granted, the entitlement of the colonists and their governments.

Rather than bloviate about tragedy and manifest injustice of this, I’ll supply you with a quick list of links so you can learn about this yourself–or better yet help the students you serve understand it.

There is a broad literature on the Colonial Mentality, and a good place to start is with Brown Skin, White Minds, by a professor of psychology at the University of Alaska Anchorage named E.J.R. David. Dr. David was born in the Philippines. Interestingly, a Google search of “Colonial Mentality” turns up a plethora of material on this issue in that former colony of both Spain and–however briefly–the United States. Dr. David and his colleague at New York University, Sumie Okazaki, have devised a Colonial Mentality Scale for measuring the depth of internalized colonialism. Dr. David’s article on “A Colonial Mentality Model of Depression for Filipino-Americans” goes some distance toward explaining the impact of the Colonial Mentality on the mental health of Filipino-Americans.

Nzuki Nnam at Dominican University has addressed the Colonial Mentality in Africa in a book by that name. This article from Henry Johnson LR in Medium also addresses the Colonial Mentality in Africa. This post from a blogger who identifies as Young African Pioneer, with a bit of editing and adaptation for reading level and ability, might be just the text to explain aid high school students in developing their own understanding of internalized oppression.

In India, an entire discourse has developed around the issue of the Colonial Mentality and its effect on hindering India’s overall development. A blogger named Yogesh1646 addresses the issue in this post. A writer named Anil Chawla argues that the Indian Polity has a Colonial Mindset. And there are a wide variety of unnamed bloggers (for a variety of reasons I won’t repost anonymous articles) writing on this issue–one need only search “colonial mentality in India” to arrive at a wide array of commentary–including a number of YouTube videos–on the issue of the colonial mentality on the Subcontinent.

In fact, if you search the term colonial mentality on Google, the search engine will return 4,940,000 results in 0.52 seconds. This is clearly an issue of importance to people around the globe.

So it probably ought to be an issue of importance for teachers, particularly those of us working in schools with diverse student bodies, and especially if that diversity includes recently arrived immigrants. Between the very real issue of the psychological damage colonialism inflicted, we here in the United States are dealing with a presidential administration that appears to have fostered a culture, within its offices, of belligerent racism. Calling nations from which the most recently minted United States citizens arrived “s**tholes” can only, it seems to me, exacerbate the colonial mentality.

Which doesn’t help to develop conscious and engaged citizens in a democratic republic like ours. Indeed, ridiculing new citizens who arrived from former European colonies seems to me the sine qua non of recipes for alienation. The answer to this is education.

So watch these pages for a instructional materials related to the colonial mentality and its effect. This blog post is the seed for a unit on colonialism, racism, and the individual citizen.

The Death of Artemio Cruz

“(La muerte de Artemio Cruz, 1962; tr 1964) A novel by Carlos Fuentes. Fuentes takes a deep plunge into the dying body and the sharply aware conscience of Artemio Cruz, a political boss of contemporary Mexico. As Cruz’s entire life passes before him, his personality unfolds into an adversary I/Thou relationship. A third voice sets the events recalled by the accusatory “Thou” and the defensive “I” into objective historical frames. The story of the agonizing Cruz amounts to a tale of survival by betrayal of friends, ideals, and country. When the accusatory voice forces Cruz into shame for his cynicism and immorality, his ego protests that at least he survives, while all the idealists are dead. The power of the story itself is heightened by the brilliant use of stream of consciousness technique, which provides a multileveled depiction of life in Mexico during and after the revolution of 1910.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

Santayana on the End of War

“Only the dead have seen the end of war.”

George Santayana

Soliloquies in England and Later Soliloquies “Tipperary” (1922). Frequently attributed to Plato, as on the wall of the Imperial War Museum in London, in General Douglas MacArthur’s farewell address in West Point in 1962, and in the film Black Hawk Down, but it does not appear in Plato’s works.

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

Cultural Literacy: Aristocracy

OK. here on a Sunday afternoon is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on aristocracy. By the strict definition of Hispanic Heritage Month, it’s another stretch. On the other hand, students need to understand the concept of aristocracy to understand land distribution across the Latin American world and its consequence, poverty.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Mario Raul de Morais Andrade

“(1893-1945) Brazilian poet and novelist. Andrade’s first book of poetry, Ha uma gota de sangue em cada poema (1917), was self-consciously lyrical and elegant. Then, with the sharp images and hard-edged diction of his second volume, Pauliceia desvairada (1922; tr Hallucinated City, 1968), he all but launched Brazilian modernism and was thereafter one of its most dedicated proponents. His novel Macunaima (1928) was a grandly successful exploration of what Andrade saw as the interwoven native and imported myths of the Brazilian people, which he wrote in an amalgam of arbitrarily combined Brazilian dialects. His O moviemento modernisto (1942), a milestone in modern criticism, is essential to an understanding of the literary history of Brazil. Andrade’s verse is collected in Poesias completas (1955).”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

Macedonio Fernandez on Origins

“Everything had been written, everything has been said; that’s what God heard before creating the world, when there was nothing yet. I have also heard that one, he may have answered from the old, split Nothingness. And then he began.

Macedonio Fernandez, Museo de la Novela de la Eterna (The Museum of Eternity’s Novel) prologue (1967)

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

Word Root Exercise: Equ/Equi

It’s 51 degrees at 5:10 this morning in The Bronx, This is the first weather approximating autumn this year. On Wednesday, it was 80 degrees here. Weird.

Here is a worksheet on the Latin word roots equ and equi. As you no doubt recognize, as, let’s hope, your student do as well, these two roots simply mean equal.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.