Essay about Historical And Thematic Distances Of Latin America And The Caribbean

Essay about Historical And Thematic Distances Of Latin America And The Caribbean

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At the turn of the 18th century, the confines of multipurpose commercial ships fostered divergent enactments of patriarchal control on the oceanic peripheries of Latin America and the Caribbean. In particular, the Spanish vessel San Dominick served as a symbolic battleground between white superiority and black subversion, the fiercely republican United States of America and the weakening Spanish Empire. Covering historical and thematic distances, Herman Melville narrates and Greg Grandin analyzes this ship’s tale to engage readers as the white seamen Amasa Delano and Benito Cereno fear for their safety against the ship’s black majority on the unpatrolled, stormy seas. On board the San Dominick, Melville and Grandin illustrate that socio-political conceptualizations of patriarchy and liberty extended from Spanish, American, French and Haitian national contexts to the wilds of southern Chile. Delano subverted Cereno’s obsolete patriarchy through his ostensibly libertarian proselytization of American manifest destiny while the ship’s black slaves subverted both Delano and Cereno using African communicatively countercultural force to further liberate themselves from white supremacy.
In reality, Cereno, heir to a ship whose human cargo murdered the ship’s owner, lacked the reassurance of Spanish colonial hierarchy necessary to exert hegemony over his subjects. Before readers disembark with Delano on their San Dominick journey, they must understand that hatchet-wielding slaves, under slave leader Babo’s command, already executed the ship’s former owner, Don Alexandro Aranda. Correspondingly, Babo also proceeded to hold a number of Spanish officials on board the ship hostage as he commandeered the ship towards Senegal. So, because Cere...


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...e of liberty. As the son of devout Massachusetts Pilgrims, Delano grew up listening to the sermons of pastor Charles Turner, who professed that local Indians, who did not necessarily conform to Puritan virtues, needed Puritan “principles” to “balance” their heathen ways. Upon immersion on the slave ship, Delano maintained this religious philosophy as he desired to domesticate the similarly savage blacks surrounding him. For instance, after seeing the “insensibly...natural sight” of a “slumbering negress” breastfeeding her children, Delano felt compelled to generalize all black women as “uncivilized.” Thus, Delano viewed slave women as inferior and unimportant in his imperialist scheme of material expansion. At the same time, Delano exclaimed to Cereno of Babo, “Don Benito, I envy you such a friend; slave I cannot call him,” highlighting his vocal rejection of slavery.

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