Nations Shaped by Media in XIX Century Latin America

By Kaley Michael, Staff Wrier

Interim Chair of the Spanish Department, Professor Alvaro Kaempfer, spoke on Monday, March 25 about “Nations Shaped by Media in XIX Century Latin America.” Dr. Kaempfer, who also serves as the Chair of Globalization Studies, teaches courses ranging from Individualized Study-Research to Intermediate Portuguese, alongside his Globalization and Spanish classes. His scholarly research aims to explicate the intersections of history, politics, and culture within the stories of transition from Colonialism to Modernity in Latin America. Areas of interest for the professor include the Andean Area, Brazil, the Caribbean, and the Southern Cone. Right now, he is studying nineteenth Century Latin American Writings that deal with the consolidation of postcolonial states in regard to social, ethnic, and urban cleansing.

Dr. Alvaro Kaempfer’s lecture came from a permanent interest in the way that written documents process political communities, as well as the Colonial experience in Latin America as one of the major landscapes for 1492 globalization. This particularly means the interdisciplinary studies that go around the legal classification of people in different countries. Between 1492 and 1516, “communities” in the Americas had different ethnic, cultural, and linguistic identities. These “communities,” which Kaempfer noted was a flexible term, had their own stories, languages, sciences, knowledge, medicine, political structure, notions of religion and spirituality, and conceptions of the universe. As people living in Europe saw Europe as the only world for them, it was the same way for the communities in the Americas.

Cultures during this time period competed for resources, using Asia as a place for trade. Christopher Columbus crashed into land that later became known as America, but he died thinking that he traveled to Asia. This competition for trade triggered a massive migration of people from Europe to places around the world, whether it was due to economic or cultural reasons. In 1492, Spain was finishing a war with Muslims, and they wanted to cleanse the Iberian peninsula of French and Muslim people. The Royal and Supreme Council of the Indies was the major office that controlled what was occurring in the Americas. Below them, Viceroyalties oversaw all the operations in their terrain. The Royal Audiences, in contrast, were the courts or general captaincies that had a great impact on the developing Spanish countries. Finally, at the base, sat the Cabildos, which were the source of every power.

Kaempfer detailed the events that triggered developing countries. For example, Pope Nicholas V and Papa Bull Dum Diversas granted the Divine Right of Portugal to take control of any nation or community that was resisting the preaching of the Catholic faith. If resistance still occurred, the authorities could enslave opponents. The Globalization Studies Chair additionally reviewed the Spanish Requirements, which were once read in Spanish and were not understood by the uneducated or non-Spanish speaking people. Said requirements declared Castile’s Divine Right to take possession of the new world and to wan and invite the indigenous population to subjugate to the crown that would rightly exploit, fight, and eliminate them for the glory of God.

These ideas led to an identity aspect, which Kaempfer showed through a quote from Simón Bolivar, who once said, “But we being Americans by birth and with rights equal to those of Europe, have to dispute these rights with the men of the country, and to maintain ourselves against the possession of the invaders. The first Constitution in the Hispanic world was created in Cadiz, Spain, in 1812, when individuals discussed if the people in the colonies of the Americas were the same kind of citizens, or if they had the same kind of rights. In Chile, citizenship was decided by how much money one had; it was never free. This has caused many to think that citizens must start from scratch to build a constitution that is applicable to the people.

There is always an option to create a Constitution without undermining other people’s rights, albeit some segments of the populations will be more affected than others. If an entire country reaches a final agreement on a constitution, it is not worthy of celebration. As lecturer Alvaro Kaempfer argued, “That means we are not alive and changing.”

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Author: Kaley Michael

Kaley Michael ‘22 is a staff writer for The Gettysburgian with a potential major in English and minor in Spanish. She hails from the “Keystone State,” and though she did not choose a college too far away from home, she hopes to study abroad within the next four years. When she’s not binge-watching The Office, she enjoys thrift shopping, napping, and singing with her best friends (in key).

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