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Columbus Day - Legacy of Discovery or Cruelty?

Added by Stephen Flynn , last edited by Amyaz Moledina on Dec 07, 2011 18:54

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A multidimensional dialogue

In response to the Forum lecture series, a panel of faculty members will hold a dialogue on "Columbus: Legacy of Discovery or Cruelty?" at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, October 10th in Lowry Main Lounge. The multi-dimensional conversation will explore the contact and consequences attributed to Christopher Columbus and his voyages to the New World.  

The program will begin with a looped film screening of "The Couple in the Cage," directed and produced by Coco Fusco and Paula Heyedia that explores Guillermo-Pena and Fusco's performance art piece "Undiscovered Amerindians." The film screening will be in Lowry Pit from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 pm.  

The dialogue will begin at 7:00 p.m. and feature faculty panelists: Heath Anderson (Archaeology and Anthropology),  Kabria Baumgartner (History), Pamela Frese (Anthropology), Jimmy Noriega (Theater and Dance), and Patricia Tovar (Hispanic Studies - Oberlin College).  The dialogue was recorded and is available below.


Here please find background information curated by the faculty and the library.

Online Resources available through the College of Wooster Libraries

  • An account of the Spanish settlements in America (1762) - An 18th century book that covers “an account of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus; with a description of the Spanish colonies in the West Indies.
  • An oration on the discovery of America (1792) - A speech delivered in London that explains how the discovery of America has benefitted all men.
  • Making Columbus Day a legal holiday - A 1964 congressional letter explaining the reasoning behind Columbus Day, and an exploration of how Columbus Day would affect the number of holidays granted to federal vs. private sector employees.
  • American Holocaust: Colombus and the conquest of the new world._ Abstract from Amazon.com: "For four hundred years from the first Spanish assaults against the Arawak people of Hispaniola in the 1490s to the U.S. Army's massacre of Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee in the 1890s the indigenous inhabitants of North and South America endured an unending firestorm of violence. During that time the native population of the Western Hemisphere declined by as many as 100 million people. Indeed, as historian David E. Stannard argues in this stunning new book, the European and white American destruction of the native peoples of the Americas was the most massive act of genocide in the history of the world. Stannard begins with a portrait of the enormous richness and diversity of life in the Americas prior to Columbus's fateful voyage in 1492. He then follows the path of genocide from the Indies to Mexico and Central and South America, then north to Florida, Virginia, and New England, and finally out across the Great Plains and Southwest to California and the North Pacific Coast. Stannard reveals that wherever Europeans or white Americans went, the native people were caught between imported plagues and barbarous atrocities, typically resulting in the annihilation of 95 percent of their populations. What kind of people, he asks, do such horrendous things to others? His highly provocative answer: Christians. Digging deeply into ancient European and Christian attitudes toward sex, race, and war, he finds the cultural ground well prepared by the end of the Middle Ages for the centuries-long genocide campaign that Europeans and their descendants launched and in places continue to wage against the New World's original inhabitants. Advancing a thesis that is sure to create much controversy, Stannard contends that the perpetrators of the American Holocaust drew on the same ideological wellspring as did the later architects of the Nazi Holocaust. It is an ideology that remains dangerously alive today, he adds, and one that in recent years has surfaced in American justifications for large-scale military intervention in Southeast Asia and the Middle East."

Online Resources hosted at other institutions

  • Our America’s Archive - A digital repository of primary source documents in American history, from 1492 onwards.
  • The Columbus Letter - An online exhibit showcasing a letter written by Christopher Columbus announcing his discovery of the Americas.
  • 1492: An Ongoing Voyage - An Exhibit of the Library of Congress, with digitized annotated primary source materials.
  • Archive of Early American Images - An online exhibit of high resolution early maps, drawings and text from 1492-1600 in Spanish colonies.

Online Resources
The couple in the cage

Taylor Diana, A Savage Performance:Guillermo Gomez-Pena and Coco Fusco's "Couple in the Cage" TDR (1988-), Vol. 42, No. 2 (Summer, 1998), pp. 160-175

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