Colony, Cult and Culture by Alfredo Bosi

By Alfredo Bosi

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This was a progressive move on capitalism's part, without a doubt. 39 Those who accompanied the cycle of the Iberian conquests did not ignore the extent of the crimes committed. The Dominican friar Bartolomé de Las Casas published his Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias (A Very Brief Account of the Devastation of the Indies) in Seville in 1552, in which he put the number of Amerindians killed between 1492 and 1542 at fifteen million. And Michel de Montaigne, a probable reader of Las Casas and the first of the secular humanists, recorded these fiery words in Book III of his Essais (1588): Whoever else has ever rated trade and commerce at such a price?

Marx's words on the role of religion in oppressed societies help explain the tendencies of certain social groups toward the imaginary expression of their desires: religion is the “heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions” (Critique 131). A society's symbolic labor can reveal the dark consequences of forced labor and the search for new, freer forms of existence. This is much like the platonic Eros, who as the child of Wealth and Poverty is in fact neither, but rather the will to free oneself from the yoke of the present and to ascend to the realm of imperishable values.

In the second, he changed codes in the interest of his evangelizing mission—not because his message had changed, but rather his recipients. This new public, which was participating actively in a new, unique form of theater, required a language that could not be that and only that of the colonizer. Further, Anchieta made use of a strangely syncretistic imagery, neither exclusively Catholic nor purely Tupi-Guarani, when he created mythical figures named karaibebé , literally flying prophets . His indigenous audience might see these as the heralds of the Land without Evil, while Christians would identify them as the angelic messengers of the Bible.

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