Author Archives: Matt Prill

The Life of a Bracero

The primary sources given depict the life of a bracero- an individual who journeys to America in search of employment who is, to the program, merely just another cog in the wheel. Juan Loza’s interview shows that braceros headed to the U.S. had high expectations- “About twenty full busses came directly to here. They put about ninety people in them even though the capacity was about forty-five or fifty passengers. We [were so full that we] even had to ride on the bus railing, on top. I think that about twenty of us came on top and it was a long—well, a lot of time” (Loza, 2005). This quote shows that braceros expected a lot from the program due to the amount on the bus and the lengths they were willing to go by riding on the railing of the bus. Well these expectations were not necessarily shot down,- braceros were able to earn somewhat decent wages- the program saw the braceros more as a homogeneous workforce than individuals. This is firstly seen by the examination of the braceros: “Well, because the doctors examined an average of three thousand people a day. Imagine! If a doctor doesn’t have the patience to examine a patient when he has already examined four, five, six, or ten during the day, [imagine] how it is when he has examined thousands! Of course this doctor is already sick of it. He’s already overloaded with the work and [so] he’s going to do it reluctantly, without paying much attention. So when you pass the physical examination—in the hands of the doctor—they do the same process to you that they did in Monterrey—they do it again. They take off all of your clothes, they bathe you with disinfectants—with powders and a series of things that make me sad to even mention” (Loza, 2005). This shows how braceros were the backbone of the U.S.- thousands were needed for the agricultural sector. However, just because they were elementary didn’t mean that they were treated well. The view of a bracero as a component rather than an individual reflects back to Ngai’s point on the isolation and segregation of braceros. In Loza’s interview, this isolation also comes into play within the braceros themselves: “The more workers who worked together, the more they [the ranchers] felt prohibited from treating them [the braceros] badly or treating them . . . or working them at inappropriate schedules [times of day] or six days a week; because among—let’s say, among ten braceros it’s logical that all ten braceros won’t have the same intentions or the same ambitions or the same availability to dedicate themselves to work. So that’s why the smaller the number of braceros the ranchers had, the easier it was for them to direct them at their whim” (Loza, 2005).





Research Annotations

Burton, Julianne. “Culture and Imperialism” Sage Publications. (1978): 2-10.

Culture and Imperialism explains the repercussions that capitalism and technology have produced, in terms of the effects they have had on culture. The author claims that capitalism divides and transforms culture, whereas technology is intertwined with culture, as it is an avenue for cultural exchange. This article was published in a magazine, Latin American perspectives, yet it fails to present much of a Latin American perspective at all. There are a few sentences here and there that demonstrate this perspective, but overall the article appears to be more an overview on the inner-workings of capitalism, technology, and culture. This article, while useful on showing the relationship of capitalism, media, and culture, isn’t extremely helpful in showing a Latin American perspective, it practically fails to incorporate Latin America at all.

Potthast-Jutkeit, Barbara. The history of family and colonialism: Examples from Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. History of the Family, 1081602X, 1997, Vol. 2, Issue 2

Barbara Potthast-Jutkeit’s article examines the effects that colonialism has had on traditional cultural values in Latin America and Africa, with a particular emphasis on family forms. The article goes into detail concerning the replacement of traditional culture with the typical values and norms of Christians and Europeans. One such example given is the replacement of matrilineality and polygamy by monogamy and patrilineality. This article is useful because it provides specific examples of the effects of colonialism upon traditional culture in Latin America and Africa, instead of merely providing an overview. This article also appears to provide evidence and conclusions similar to other articles concerning the same subject matter, there is a pattern when it comes to cultural imperialism and colonialism: white, Christian men colonize a society whose ideals and cultures are different. This leads to a loss of traditional culture due to an enforcement of European values. This article provided me with specific evidence of negative effects concerning imperialism upon culture.

Wikipedia Part 2

This time around, I decided to read a wikipedia article entitled The Culture of Nicaragua. I have been interested in Nicaragua ever since I traveled there my junior year for about two weeks. I would like to learn more about Nicaraguan culture for both my own interest and because it may be a good topic for my final research paper. The article is useful to provide a brief overview of Nicaraguan culture, so there is no particular bias as it is factual and used for a better understanding of their culture. The article mainly covers regional culture, languages in Nicaragua, the population of Nicaragua, religion, music, and education. The article’s sources include a variety of ethnologies, census data, and several facts from UNESCO. Overall, I think the article is good, as it increased my base knowledge, yet I think it is lacking detail. I think that the article could and should be much longer, a culture cannot be summed up in a few brief paragraphs.

Research Topic

For my research project, I want to cover something related to Latin American culture, possibly solely Nicaraguan culture. Culture has always been something that has fascinated me, and I think one really gets to know another by experiencing and learning about their culture. I think it is important to learn Latin American history because one can then see how a culture is born. Time shapes a culture into what we know it as today, and it is important to learn how those changes came about. For example, in American Empire at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, there was a story concerning missionary work and how that leads to cultural imperialism. That is another possible topic- cultural homogenization in today’s world due to globalization and Americanization.

Research Annotations

McCook, Stewart. The World Was My Garden. 1935.

The World Was My Garden provides an overview of the rise of tropical botany in the United States, a result of American imperialism. The source also provides insight into the effects of tropical botany, such as bringing tropical plants back to the U.S., the creation of agricultural and botanical centers abroad, and the formation of new careers for Americans. One of the most valuable parts of this source is that it plays into the wider scope of imperialism at this time. It is only fitting that Americans take tropical plants back to America, all while promoting “democratic farming.”  Tropical botany mirrors the trends American imperialism inspire. For example, the documentation of plants and plant hunting mirrors the interest and fetishization of indigenous peoples. The promotion of democratic farming mirrors the cultural imperialism that took place during this time- the uprooting of traditional farming practices and cultural values.

Navarro-Rivera, Pablo. The Imperial Enterprise and Educational Policies in Colonial Puerto Rico.

The Imperial Enterprise and Educational Policies in Colonial Puerto Rico gives insight into how far America was willing to go for an attempt at cultural assimilation. The source primarily follows the education given to Puerto Ricans, both in Puerto Rico or in schools in America, such as The Carlisle Indian Industrial School. This source uses CIIS as an example to document the horridness of the process of Americanization- students were forced to become “civilized,” and were required to bath, receive a haircut, new clothes, and a christian name. The Imperial Enterprise and Educational Policies in Colonial Puerto Rico shows how homogenization is a direct byproduct of imperialism- the U.S. was intent upon creating a culture that spread globally.



Analysis of The People of the Island of Cuba Are, and of Right Ought to Be, Free and Independent

I read Henry M. Teller’s The People of the Island of Cuba Are, and of Right Ought to Be, Free and Independent. The primary source is preceded by a bit of context that is helpful in understanding the contents and backstory of the primary source. Basically, the introduction states that President McKinley didn’t convince congress that Cubans were fighting for an independent republic. Supporters of Cuban independence were pacified by the ratification of the Teller Amendment. The primary source reveals that the U.S. was aware of the terrible environment that Cubans were living in, but failed to act until the U.S. battle ship The Maine was sunk. This is seen in The People of the Island of Cuba Are, and of Right Ought to Be, Free and Independent by “Whereas the abhorrent conditions which have existed for more than three years in the island of Cuba, so near our own borders, have shocked the moral sense of the people of the United States, have been a disgrace to civilization, culminating as they have in the destruction of a United States battle ship” (69). Essentially, the sinking of The Maine was the last straw for the U.S., and caused them to intervene in Cuba.

Congress decided four things: that the people of Cuba deserve independence, that the U.S. is obligated to to force Spain to renounce control, that the President is allowed to send in armed forces, and that the U.S. will prevent any intention to control Cuba. I think that the obligation aspect of this is particularly interesting, as it reminds me of The White Man’s Burden and the discussion we had in class how the U.S.  feels obligated to police and “improve” the world. Teller states “That it is the duty of the United States to demand, and the Government of the United States does hereby demand, that the Government of Spain at once relinquish its authority and government in the island of Cuba” (69). This statement proves the existence of the mental attitude that the U.S. believes it has an obligation to better the world. However, the U.S.’s intentions might be more genuine this time around because they are enforcing Cuban sovereignty, although it did take the sinking of The Maine for it to happen.


Wikipedia Analysis

I read the Wikipedia article entitled History of Hispanic and Latino Americans in the United States. I found the article to be interesting and it seemed as if the editors were educated on the topic and knew what they were talking about. Upon further reading and investigation, however, the article appeared more and more flawed. The article’s imperfections are evident by its “start-class” rating for quality that Wikipedia itself has given it. The main criticisms I have with the article is its lack of citations, poor quality sources, and its one-sidedness.

I don’t know if I would go as far as to say that the article is biased, but it definitely is one sided. It is written from a Latin American perspective, and the writers/ editors seem very intent upon proving that early Spanish exploration was superior and predated England’s. There are many examples of this throughout the text. One such example is seen in the article’s Spanish Expeditions section. “From 1528 to 1536, four castaways from a Spanish expedition, including a “black” Moor, journeyed all the way from Florida to the Gulf of California, 267 years before Lewis and Clark embarked on their much more renowned and far less arduous trek” (“History of Hispanic and Latino Americans in the United States.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 31 Dec. 2019, The article does not state why this expedition was so much more difficult than that of Lewis and Clark’s, it simply just states that it was. In the same section, the writers also claim that the Spanish found the majority of the current American States before the British did: “In all, Spaniards probed half of today’s lower 48 states before the first English colonization attempt” (“History of Hispanic and Latino Americans in the United States.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 31 Dec. 2019, However, this sentence is missing a citation, which puts the fact’s credibility into question. Another sentence that struck me as a bit biased states that Spain was the “most important colonial power,” (“History of Hispanic and Latino Americans in the United States.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 31 Dec. 2019, which is subjective and cannot be proved. These examples begin to show the Spanish-centric attitude that this article possesses. I understand that the article is about Latin America, yet many of the article’s supposed facts lack citations and place Spain in the spotlight.

The other main criticism that I have of this article, which I mentioned a bit previously, is its lack of citations and poor quality sources. In the article’s References section, there are only a total of 26 citations. This to me does not seem to be an adequate amount of citations for an article of this length. There are many instances within the article in which a citation could be, yet there is none. There are frequently many paragraph breaks between one citation to another, which makes me doubt the article’s credibility. The sources for many of the article’s existing citations do not appear to be of a very high caliber. For example, the source for a citation regarding Spanish explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno is from Monterey County’s Historical Society webpage. Another site that I attempted to visit led me to a page telling me that the link was not found. I believe that if the article had more citations for its facts and paragraphs, and the sources were of a higher quality, it would be much better and credible article.

Aside from the two main criticisms, I have a couple smaller ones, including the article’s sloppy grammar and the fact that it has a section entitled Recent Immigration, yet it is the article’s smallest section. Throughout the article, I noticed the occasional instance of poor writing and improper grammar. I also believe that the section on recent immigration should be much longer. The present will soon become the past, which is why it is essential to this article.

Ariel and Letter to Colonel Patrick Campbell

Both Rodó’s Ariel and Bolívar’s Letter to Colonel Patrick Campbell show the fear of American dominion that Latin Americans possessed during the 19th and 20th centuries. Rodó states “I want each of you to be aware that when in the name of the rights of the spirit I resist the mode of North American utilitarianism, which they want to impose on us as the summa and model of civilization…” (Rodó, 37). Similarly, Bolívar demonstrates his anxiety concerning American domination when discussing the U.S.’s reaction to if a European were to be the next head of Colombia , “Can you imagine the opposition that would come from the new American states, and from the United States, which seems destined by Providence to plague America with miseries in the name of Freedom?” (Bolívar, 173). Both Rodó and Bolívar state that America seems hellbent upon imposing their values of liberty and virtue on the rest of the world, regardless of if they want to receive it or not. One difference between the two primary sources is the fact that Rodó praises American efficiency and lifestyle, despite it being devoid of individuality or diversity. Rodó first criticizes America: “I do not, however, see what is to be gained from denaturalizing the character- the personality- of a nation, from imposing an identification with a foreign model, while sacrificing irreplaceable uniqueness” (Rodó, 32). Rodó fears that if Latin America were to model their society after the U.S., they would lose touch with their traditional culture. However, Rodó can not help but acknowledge the positives of an American lifestyle: “Although their culture is far from being refined or spiritual, it is admirably efficient…” (Rodó, 35).

Strong and Pike Readings

Both Pike’s Wild People in Wild Lands and Strong’s The Anglo Saxons and the World’s Future make very bold statements and claims. In Wild People in Wild Lands, Pike first introduces his work by stating that people use stereotypes to describe people that are unknown or foreign to them. He goes on to say that stereotypes and evilness are not unique or original. One quote that stuck with me was “differences in a population are often greater than differences between populations.” In this quote, Pike was trying to get across the point that there is much diversity inside of a population, and this diversity may be even greater than that population compared to another. Then, Pike goes on to discuss relations between the United States and Latin America. He claims that Anglos stripped Latin Americans of identity and by doing so “sank” to the level of Latin Americans. Pike also states that the view of Latin Americans around this time was negative- they were seen as savage and inferior compared to Anglos. Pike claims that they were seen this way because of the lack of modesty and sexual repression when compared to Anglos- whites were disgusted by Latin American nudity and saw sexual desire as something that made one weaker and more barbaric. I think that the main reason Anglos labeled Latin Americans as barbaric and uncivilized was because of the fact that they were different from them. When there are numerous differences between cultures people are unsure how to react because those differences confuse them. In The Anglo Saxons and the World’s Future, Strong claims that the Anglo Saxons should rightfully be their “brother’s keeper” when it comes to the rest of the world. Pike supports this argument by claiming that Anglo Saxons are the best representatives of the two themes responsible for making the world a better place: civil liberty and spiritual Christianity. Pike also claims that the increase in Anglo population when compared to the rest of the world shows that God is backing the Anglo Saxon race to be at the helm of the world. I think that both of these pieces are extremely and unfairly pro-Anglo and the support that each author presents is ludicrous and absurd.



MLK Day of Service

Today, I first went to the MLK introduction at 9:00. The introduction started with president Sarah Bolton and had a variety of other performers and speakers, including the Scot’s Key a cappella group and the Wooster Chorus. I found the keynote speaker, Kimberly Brazwell, and her talk to be very interesting. At the end of it, she asked us to link arms with the person next to us for a prayer. My friend Geoff and I did, but there was an older man in front of us sitting by himself. Geoff and I offered to link arms with him and it was just very wholesome. After, I went to the panel on imposter syndrome and learned a lot about the struggle for minorities with mental health difficulties.