6.0083 More Rs: "Americas" (2/56)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Tue, 16 Jun 1992 15:49:33 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 6, No. 0083. Tuesday, 16 Jun 1992.

(1) Date: 16 June 92, 09:51:10 SET (14 lines)
From: Marc Eisinger +33 (1) 49 05 72 27 <EISINGER@FRIBM11>
Subject: Americas once more

(2) Date: Tue, 16 Jun 92 11:31+0100 (42 lines)
From: Irena Sumi <irena.sumi@uni-lj.ac.mail.YU>
Subject: 6.0077 Rs: On "Discovery" and "the Americas"

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: 16 June 92, 09:51:10 SET
From: Marc Eisinger +33 (1) 49 05 72 27 <EISINGER@FRIBM11>
Subject : Americas once more

OK. If the Viking went to Newfoundland, and I admit they did,
before Columbus, what did it change to the history of the
Americas : nothing, to the history of the "Old world" : nothing.
So, once again, who cares ?
P.S. It is in that sense that I used the word "trace" when I
said there was no trace. No perceptible change in the
sociology, mythology, religion, health, agriculture,
farming, etc.
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------54----
Date: Tue, 16 Jun 92 11:31+0100
From: Irena Sumi <irena.sumi@uni-lj.ac.mail.YU>
Subject: 6.0077 Rs: On "Discovery" and "the Americas" (8/165)

I enjoyed reading Robert Schweik's response on this subject, but would
like to deepen his arguments as follows:

1. The real question about Columbus' "discovery" is not whether or not
it was the first "historically proved", but why it was the first with
that status. In other words: contacts, trans-Atlantic or trans_Pacific,
in which many believe, did not produce the "discovery" effect.

2. Inasmuch as the joint venture of the Spansh Crown and Columbus are
still viewed as "the only important" contact, such view is distinctly
a product of that European era that reached its peak in the 19. century
and that chose to interpret things as the inveitable "progress". The progress
ideology may still well be the one that supresses any other views on the
subject. It works as a sort of shield added to actual historic circumstances
of the "discovery": to read, e.g., Las Casas, one has the impression that
the Spanish invaders viewed the Aztec Empire as a sort of peer state of
society, much alike to their own. After all, they did remarkably well in
both Aztec and Peruvian court intrigues in order to break down the power

3. Thirdly, while I think that the view of native Americans themselves holding
that if anyone, it was their predecessors who really discovered America (and
I believe that this is not a mere twist of words, but should be built in
any non-europocentric and progress-ideology free social scinece and history
as a programmatic rule), many Native writers, scholars included, have reported
of very persistant Native beliefs and legends regarding earlier contacts,
or even late extra-American origin of some Native groups. The legacy of the
progress ideology unfortunately prevents serious inquiries even here: while
most parts of what was for centuries orally transmitted "european cultural
area" history, e.g. early Hebraic history, early Greek history, entered
our history books with little difficulties, Native American oral traditions
are simply waved away or, worse still, viewed as an aspect of present identity
crisis of these groups. History is the real looser here.

Irena Sumi
Institute of Ethnic Studies