Mental Borders: Non-Europeans Are Smarter Than you Think

Image result for machu picchu

Paying close attention to the material of the fall quarter which focused on Manifest Destiny and the study of “otherness” in this world, we can sense some of that same feeling of superiority from the Spanish conquistadors who invaded the Andes and tried labeling them as non-humans incompetent of ruling themselves. Such a thing like that is quite ironic because if they had no sense of logic and were not rational beings than no way could the Inca empire have thrived with its amazing and strategically planned out military, hierarchical, and accounting systems which kept the empire intact and growing for years (O’Toole).

Many people of European descent throughout history have considered those who are of different descent and have different belief systems to be inferior in many aspects, as far as considering them to be not human and barbarians. In fact, the Inca people of Peru are an excellent example that provokes discussion about how in reality they were quite gifted and capable of doing so much with the way they ran their empire in terms of government and the way they used their resources and landscape.

I am astonished at how amazing their creations were, beginning with that of Machu Picchu, a fortress for the Inca or emperor (which is showcased in the image above). Personally, from someone who is of Indigenous descent I can truly say that it makes me proud to know how the Andean people worked really hard and were able to create an amazing fortress like they did in the 15th century considering the environment under which it was built and the technology that we have today that they lacked. It’s astonishing to learn in lecture their logical ways of using the llamas and vegetation to make the most of their empire.

They might have not been as technologically advanced as the Spanish supposedly were at that time who had better firearms, horses, or the Christian faith behind them but they did not lack the ability to provide for themselves and actually be successful (O’Toole). They clearly were capable of ruling and running a very successful empire by themselves, without the knowledge of the Spanish existing or technology that they had that they did not know of.

The Inca were in fact very wise people who also knew about status, they were very well aware of it which was reflective in their clothes and the detailed designs they wore on their mascapaychas, or headdresses. They were not savage; they were skilled people who had a culture and had a very productive way of living, unlike none of the nonsense that the Spanish believed about them because they were not of the Christian faith.

America, engraving by Theodor Galle after a drawing by Jan van der Straet c. 1580

There was indeed a similar mentality to that of the Anglo-Americans in the time of Manifest Destiny and the inferior thinking of the Native Americans to that of the Spanish and the Indigenous people of Latin America. Sadly, but truly this was the case and even if it was not as extreme I believe that it provokes a lot of feelings and ties in very carefully to the discussion of “otherness”. The image above titled America serves as an example discussed in lecture of how the indigenous were portrayed to the Spanish and used almost as an allegory to describe the native people as passive and clueless individuals, which they certainty were not.

The Inca and the Andeans knew better than that. They were smarter and they understood that most of these Spanish people who came and invaded them were in fact commoners and less educated than them (O’Toole). Not even to mention that once the Spanish colonized them the Inca adapted and made something else of it. They made sure to resistance and they did not fail, even while it seemed like they were under complete control of the Spanish.

For some reason, whether they believed that their actions of taking over areas that were not theirs was God ordained or not, Anglo people never failed to see the native peoples as inferior and lacking the human characteristics required for adequate self-rule according to them. Garcilaso De la Vega, half Inca elite and half Spanish noble in his account of   Comentarios reales de los Incas understood that they were better off by themselves, how the Inca did well without the help of Spanish and how it would be better if they just decided to leave. By gathering accounts from the Inca’s who experienced this firsthand he came to understand the way the Inca ran their empire and came to realize a lot about their abilities to rule themselves.

It is just amazing and highly stimulating to see how for centuries throughout history and throughout all places of the world, including this year long course contain and reflect a world where people are looked down upon and underestimated for foolish reasons. The Inca serve as counterexamples of the common belief that those people who were natives to the Americas were savage and irrational non-humans.                                                            

                                                                        Works Cited

Galle, Theodor, and Jan van der Straet. America. 1580. National Gallery of Art, Accessed 19 Jan. 2017.

Garcilaso De la Vega. Ditactalia, Accessed 19 Jan. 2017.

O’Toole, Rachel. “Colonial Rule Was about Colonial Resistance.” Humanities Core, 19 Jan. 2017, UC Irvine HIB 100. Lecture.

O’Toole, Rachel. “Peru and the Incan Empire.” Humanities Core, 10 Jan. 2017, UC Irvine HIB 100. Lecture.

O’Toole, Rachel. “Spanish Conquests and Myths.” Humanities Core, 12 Feb. 2017, UC Irvine HIB 100. Lecture.

Restall, Matthew. Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest. New York, Oxford UP, 2003.

V., Kannan. “Mystical Light in Magical Machu Picchu.” National Geographic, Accessed 18 Jan. 2017.

Vega, Garcilaso de la, 1539-1616.. Royal commentaries of the Incas, and general history of Peru. Austin : University of Texas Press, 1989, c1966.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s