6

THE VISION OF THE VANQUISHED

The trauma of occupation struck all those peoples who, in order not to be exterminated, were forced to submit. Still the shock has not been equally felt everywhere. It has been more violent in the Americas because, due to their isolation from the rest of the world for thousands of years, the Indians were not aware of the existence of other peoples. They were terrified by those beings with a “human bearing, riding unknown monsters”. They did not know how to comport themselves in regard to those invaders, whether to form an alliance with them, or to fraternize with them, or to show them hostility. But it was the vision of fright that prevailed over all experiments that were attempted.


The trauma caused by the invaders in the Americas

The prophecies which had anticipated such a catastrophe were recalled both in Mexico and in Peru. For example, a prophecy, the Shilam Balam, had foretold the Mayans of the arrival of the White men: “The Earth will be in flames, and great white circles will be formed in the sky. Bitterness will appear while the abundance shall leave the land. The Earth will be in flames and the war of oppression will break out. The times will be immersed in painful works. There is no doubt, it will be seen. It will be a time for suffering, of tears, or misery. This is what will happen.”

In Peru too strange events are supposed to have occurred before the arrival of the white men: recurring earthquakes, pillars of fire appearing over the horizon, temples toppled by lightning, comets coursing in the sky. In all these cases the important point was that, in the Andes as in Mexico, the invaders were, if not expected, at least foreseeable. Montezuma welcomed the Spaniards as if they were gods whom everybody was expecting. He told Cortez: “My Lord, this is your home.” At the same time the Chronicle of Titu Cusi relates that in the Andes, when the Spaniards arrived, they were taken for the Viracochas, the sons of God.

In Histoire de Lynx, Claude Lévi-Strauss explains that the two-party polarity, which obtains in Indian myths and opposes water to fire, the

-186-

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Colonization: A Global History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • 1 - Colonization or Imperialism 1
  • 2 - The Initiatives 24
  • 3 - Conflicts for an Empire 52
  • 4 - A New Race of Societies 104
  • 5 - Rose-Coloured Legend and Pitch-Black Legend 163
  • 6 - The Vision of the Vanquished 186
  • 7 - The Movements for Colonist-Independence 211
  • 8 - Leaven and Levers 239
  • 9 - Independence or Revolution 262
  • 10 - Liberation or Decolonization 305
  • 11 - Decolonization Halted 344
  • Chronology 361
  • Filmographic Selection 370
  • Bibliography 376
  • Index 390
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