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Please respond to Lucia’s response (below) to the reading. When it comes to imperialism, there is always a debate on whether it had a positive or negative outcome. There are those who believe that conquerors wanted to improve the lives of those whom they conquered. Then there are those who believed that the only ones who benefited from this were the conquerors themselves. Inca Garcilaso was a mestizo who believed that the Spanish conquistadors came to save and better the lives of the indigenous population. Aurora Fiengo-Varn “Reconciling the Divided Self” is about Inca Garcilaso, who was born to an Inca noble mother and a Spanish conqueror. At the time marriage was used as a way to gain the indigenous population’s trust and later on to obtain power. Inca Garcilaso was born with privileges that others did not have. He became one of the first mestizo writers, and although he wrote one of the first books detailing the Spanish’s conquest of Peru, he would often side with the Spanish. It is important to mention however that at the time the Spanish heavily censored mestizo writers.
Inca Garcilaso was different than the average native Peruvian. Born to a noble mother and a Spanish father, his upbring was probably different than that of a native Indian. As stated in the reading Aurora mentions how Garcilaso was heavily influenced by European culture and how his writings celebrated the conquest, while ignoring the realities of those who were less fortunate than him. It is also mentioned how writings who opposed or voiced out their opposition of the conquest were lost for centuries, but not by accident. Garcilaso admired the Spanish, and believed the Spanish arrived in Peru in order to better the lives of the indigenous population. In his eyes he saw the progression of the population from uncivilized to civilized citizens. One way the Spanish obtained this and “bettered the lives” of the Indians was through religion. As in many other native American cultures, Peruvians prayed to their own Gods, held their own beliefs and customs. After converting to Christianity, many of their former beliefs were lost. At the beginning of the reading, there is a story about two native servants, who want to know how a melon tastes, but it belongs to their master. They eat it and proceed to lie about it, and when they are caught by their master, they believe him to be a God simply because he was able to recognize their lie. There is another similar story over how Spanish conquistadors, were able to calm a lion, and this made them see God-like. In a way, this made it seem as if the natives were simple-minded. Although the Spanish exploited Peru and their resources, forced a religion upon a population in order to civilize them, Garcilaso believed it was for the greater good. The Spanish brought down the Incan empire, enslaved a population, but still Garcilaso saw it as a blessing from God, while still identifying as native. The Spanish indeed benefited from the conquest of Peru and believed that they had to be rewarded and compensated for bringing religion to an otherwise barbaric place. Not only were the Spanish taking Peru’s natural resources, but they were also enforcing the enslavement of the native population. It is mentioned how Francisco de Toledo a viceroy, treated the Inca population in a cruel manner and always believed that the Inca population was capable of rebellion. Garcilaso was ultimately exiled along with other mestizos. At the end it did not matter that he had Spanish blood, as long as he was mixed, he had to be exiled. Towards the end Aurora Fiengo-Varn states how Inca Garcilaso did not truly fit in with either side of his lineage. There is a lot to debate when it comes to the pros and cons of conquest and imperialism. While I personally believe that conquerors are solely expanding their empires to benefit themselves, not to better the lives of others, there are others who may disagree with me. I do not believe Aurora Fiengo-Varn was being biased as she wrote this because the truth is Garcilaso sided with the Spanish but left out the realities that the average native Indian faced. Garcilaso at the end was turned away and exiled by the people he admired and praised. Aurora Fiengo-Varn is just stating the realities that the indigenous population faced at the hands of the Spanish. The Spanish under the guise of civilizing “barbarians and savages” conquered and exploited these populations. As Aurora stated Garcilaso failed to connect both cultures.


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