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History, Point of View, Interpretation

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Antonia Castaneda notes, "Sexual violence functions as an institutionalized mechanism for ensuring subordination and compliance. It was one instrument of sociopolitical terrorism and control - first of women and then of the group under conquest”. 4 Guest, on the other hand tackles the mode of discipline that the mission imposed on the natives, focusing on the whippings. Both the authors presented two versions of events in California history during the same time frame which reader cannot refute. Castaneda presented hers in negative way, telling us the evils of the colonizers during the conquest and the reactions of some priests to these brutalities.

Castaneda states: Finally, perhaps the greatest contradictions were those of the greatest champion of Amerindian rights – the Catholic Church. On the one hand, Catholic clergy sought to remove Amerindians from contact with Spaniards, in order to protect them from the exploitation and violence of conquistadores, soldiers and colonists; on the other hand, Jesuits, Franciscans, and other religious orders relied heavily on corporal punishment in their programs to Christianize and Hispanicize native people. 5 Guest on the other hand, presented a biased and one-sided picture by justifying the whippings done in the missions, as he said that missionaries did that because “whipping played a significant role in Spanish culture in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries”. 6 He further suggested that the missionaries were introducing the natives and trying to make them a part of their culture and that they apply same discipline to themselves.

Despite the agreement on the fact that placing women in shackles, stocks and submitting them to whips occurred during that time, as Castaneda noted, “Of the use of force against neophyte women, Lausen wrote that women in the mission were flogged, placed in the stocks, or shackled only because they deserved it”7 to which Guest discussed as acceptable practice.

The difference in interpretation lies on the different emphasis on the actions of colonizers and their justifications. Castaneda’s portrayal reflects the brutal disrespect of colonizers to the natives while Guest presented the colonizers as disciplinarians, intent on teaching natives their culture. According to Mark Bevir, “Objective interpretations are those which best meet rational criteria of accuracy, comprehensiveness, consistency, progressiveness, fruitfulness, and openness…the nature of our being in the world is shown to give us a good reason to regard such objective interpretations as moving towards truth”. 8 Based on what Bevir said, Castaneda’s and Guest’s work can be considered objective presentation of history.

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preview essay on History, Point of View, Interpretation
  • Pages: 4 (1000 words)
  • Document Type: Essay
  • Subject: History
  • Level: Ph.D.
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