While considering the concept of the Collision of Cultures, it is truly a multifaceted one. The Collision of Cultures is the process by the way the modern “global village” has come into existence. It is the introduction of the old world, Europe, Africa and Asia, to the New World, or the Americas. This collision started with the migration of persons from the old world across the baring straight and down into the new world; it is known that many kinds of diseases died due to the cold weather during this trek.
Considering the difficult environments, flora, and fauna of the new world, people weren’t as swiftly able to transition from nomadic lifestyles into that of sedentary empires. Though, with the help of corn and potatoes, empires made of gold and many gods were formed. Three prominent Empires, the Aztecs, Incans, and Mayans controlled the majority of the old world. Until, by accident and without choice, the New World was introduced to the old World in 1492 by way of Christopher Columbus.
This marked the birth of the ‘Global Village’ coming to fruition out of what was once a land with about 350 different tribes and 150 dialects came the modern-day Latin America, named after a language non-native to its own lands. Due to the aftermath of war and disease, many people in the Latin Americas are genetically made up of both old and new world descendants, are still struggling with the consequences of years of occupation and authoritarian rule, and now speak, believe, and politically align in fashions more on par with those of their invader’s heritage instead of the native land’s.
The New World re-shaped the Old World as well, with the four primary food staples of the world; wheat, rice, corn, and potatoes crossing paths, as well as tobacco and cocoa. In addition to the spread of religions, silk, spices, slaves, gold, silver, disease, beasts of burden, social constructs, artillery, and so on, the world will never be the same.
Can you comment about the most effective weapon used by Spain and Portugal for the colonization?
The stories of the Incan’s, Mayan, and Aztec empires were brilliant and unfortunate. It seems they were conquered eventually by way of their own techniques. The book describes the natives as, “Generally seeing themselves as the centre of the universe” and perceiving most others as “different from themselves” (Eakin, 2007, pg. 44). It’s this concept of dehumanization that allowed many of the great empires to enforce a process of “cultural imperialism” upon other tribes until this was done to them by the conquistadors of the old world (Eakin, 2007, pg. 37). The Europeans were described as perceiving a “linear and progressive, not cyclical” history. The bible told them to “be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth, and subdue it, and have dominion over it” (Eakin, 2007, pg. 51). However, in the end, the conquistadores of the Latin Americas appeared greedy, power hungry, “proud, selfish, treacherous, and vengeful” (Eakin, 2007, pg. 87). But it was their insatiable need for gold and power that gave birth to the Latin America that exists today, though by way of differing effective weapons or techniques.
In addition to the mentioned motives and beliefs, Eakin describes four factors that allowed for the Spanish and Portuguese to lead in the conquests of the New World. Those being, political will, economic dynamism, religious zeal, and technological innovation, the Iberians were believed to be “the leaders in this process because they combines all four factors.” Though, the conquests of the Mexican Aztec nation differed from that of Brazil, because the famous Spanish Conquistador Hernan Cortez utilized the art of diplomacy as his greatest weapon to defeat the great empire. By way of marrying a local woman, Marina and studying the socio-political dynamics and culture he was later able to exploit societal factions and turn tribes against the Aztecs. Cortez brought with him a thousand Spaniards, 80 horses, 16 artillery pieces and 13 brigantines, but in no way could have reined without the support of, “tens of thousands of Indian allies who fought alongside them.” (Eakin, 2007, pg. 73). It was during the battles with the Aztecs that smallpox was also introduced to the New World, unfortunately killing approximately 80 percent of its native people and aiding Spanish conquest.
The Portuguese, on the other hand, were known for their naval and navigational skills. They turned Christopher Columbus’s proposal to find a direct sea route to Asia down several times, knowing his calculations were wrong. The Portuguese excelled in logistics and appropriate intervention. Some believe they may have already been aware of the New World when they drafted a document that declared the Eastern portion of the New World, or Brazil, theirs. Eakin describes the Portuguese occupation of Brazil as being without, “clash and conquest” but instead they took over the area with plantations, slavery, and disease, causing the locals to retreat to central regions. The Portuguese’s greatest weapon time and again proved to be their tactical ability. In this case, their success was to the tactic of building conquests along the shore and “carving out tiny coastal enclaves” with the intent to ‘cling to the coast like crabs” (Eakin, 2007, pg. 90/91).