week 5: the early encounter

Prior to sailing across the Atlantic, Columbus learned from Portuguese and Spanish expansion into the Atlantic Islands and down the coast of Africa economic models for colonial exploitation. Conquering and enslaving native populations, importing captive Africans for enslaved labor, cultivating sugar for export to Europe, and improving sea-going technology were all in place before he received Royal support. This week, we look at the transplantation of an Atlantic model of conquest and exploitation to the Caribbean, and at its religious critics. Pay close attention to the arguments made by Friars Montesinos, Pane, and de las Casas, and whether they offer an alternative colonial model, or an alternative to colonialism?

September 17 (Tuesday) – Caribbean Conquest

  • Christopher Columbus’s Log, excerpted in English. Focus on period after Oct. 11.

  • The Requerimiento

September 19 (Thursday) – The Critique

  • Bartolomé de Las Casas, Brief Account of the Devastation of the Indies, excerpt.

  • Antonio Montesinos, “Advent Sermon”

  • “The Relación of Fray Ramón Pane (c. 1494-1496)”

  • “The Laws of Burgos. 1512-1513”