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Films >> 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992) >>

The Conquest Continues: Coming To A Movie Theater Near You
By Christopher Robe, with comments by Megan Snyder, Jose Berrios, Tanya Saleh, Taara Ness-Cochinwala, and Krystal Kaai

Walter Benjamin in Illuminations reminds his readers that each history of civilization is tainted by barbarism since the prevailing civilization's history is dependent upon the suppression and eradication of alternative histories that might challenge the legitimacy of the existing civilization's rule. The problem with traditional history that asserts a stance of "objectivity," according to Benjamin, is that it overlooks how the existing powers-that-be superimpose upon past events a history that justifies the present ideological structure's control; or, put more simply, history is always viewed through the biased lenses of the victor. Colonization and history go hand and hand. History is always written by the colonizer...
Columbus: Criminal or Conqueror?
By Rachael Hansen and John Marlow, with comments by Timothy Guida, Tanya Saleh, Megan Snyder, Dana Shakked, Eric Edgerton, Andrea Espinoza, Andrew Wright, and Olga Zhakova

Why would a person in 1992 make a historical film about Christopher Columbus' discovery that completely ignores the then current debates that question whether or not it precipitated genocide? Director Ridley Scott set out to produce the be-all-end-all depiction of Columbus, yet he blatantly neglected to address the most heated issue: Native American genocide (comment by Timothy Guida). In Scott's film, the native voice is unheard, their identity is muted, and their culture is disregarded. The quincentennial celebration of Columbus's voyage triggered a proliferation of literary criticisms addressing the controversy over the traditional Columbus myth. 1492: Conquest of Paradise, however, is silent...
Momaday Represents Columbus
By Faith Roncoroni, with comments by Erin Thorn and Margaret Watters

As the five-hundredth anniversary of Columbus Day approached, the renowned author, artist, and activist N. Scott Momaday gave a modern Native American interpretation of Columbus’s first contact with the New World through a triptych of paintings. His twelve-foot-long collection of acrylic-on-canvas paintings were individually entitled Palos, Admiral of the Sea, and San Salvador. Upon their release, Momaday publicly described the third painting in the series, San Salvador, as “a depiction of Columbus in a full figure adjacent to an Indian child; Columbus is an emaciated, death-like figure, and the child is pure...
A Conversation on 1492 Taino Culture
By Brian Cohen and Andrea Espinoza

Class discussion on 1492 about how we should think about the negative impact of "discovery" on Native Americans continued in this email exchange. ...
October 12, 1992: How Did the Public React?
By Zachary Carter, with comments by Jeffrey Herrigel and Jesse Stehouwer

October 12, 1492, was a great day for Americans -- or was it? The Columbus quincentennial met strong opposition by indigenous Native Americans nation-wide and, indeed, world-wide. Upon reviewing various newspaper editorials from October 12, 1992, it seems that most writers wish to dismantle the image of Christopher Columbus as a national hero. Joel Garreau of the Washington Post claims that Columbus did not discover the mainland first, while other authors point to the torture and genocide of the Native Americans to diminish the significance of Columbus’s discovery. Although it is difficult to gauge public opinion, these newspaper pieces help to give a “snapshot” of emotions on October 12, 1992.