For as long as anyone, myself included, knows, history has been written by the winner or in lesser cases, the survivor. Whether it be history about Europe or the United States, the textbook is positioned in a certain way, in which the book is written to praise the winner and erase the loser. As a result, most readers will identify their historic knowledge from the lens of the winner as opposed to a neutral lens. Then if the reader were to discover the same history but from another perspective, it creates disarray and confusion; mind-blowing the illusion fabricated by the winners. This textbook made by the winners reaffirms their existence and the extent of their power at which their history was written, but disregard the existence of the other and their power before their defeat. Similar to
the Donald Trump winning the electoral vote in securing his position as president and then all of a sudden the popular vote is discarded out the window. The power of the electoral college is then stamped on every page in Google and every traditional media outlet. The power of electoral college almost, ALMOST had American citizens forgotten the other side of the United States democracy— the popular vote. Saving the conversation about United States politics later, the main point I’m attempting to grasp at is the increasing belittlement of the other, of the loser, of the defeated. It is not like they were created to fall in order for history to be written nor were they created at that specific moment in time.
Similarly to my own education, I learned about the history of indigenous people such as Native Americans or the Inca from a white European colonialist perspective
. Recalling any information about these cultural groups, I do not recount anything about revolutions or rebellions, not even about their social hierarchy. It was about their location and their defeat by the Spanish. The textbooks I was learning about these indigenous people glossed over their historical glory, in which when I learned about these people today with Professor O’toole, they were benevolent conquerors to the people of their empire, almost similar to their European counterparts, the Roman Empire. Moreover, they are rulers who have a superior accounting and economic system (O’toole). I am not the only individual who criticizes the textbook history but another scholar Thomas B.F. Cummins who claims:
As colonial paintings, it is the presence of difference or “otherness” in these portraits which is at issue, because not only did the European colonialists topple and superimpose themselves on the eliter who are here depicted but they also consistently tried to eradicate almost all indigenous representations that reminded colonial Indians of their Andean heritage. Why the, we may ask, did the colonialists permit idealizes portraits of Inca kings? Why were there portraits of colonial kurakakuna which, in varying degrees of iconographic detail, asserted their colonial status in pre-Hispanic terms?
Cummins’ question is towards history and how it is now interpreted–solely for facts and memorization. Cummins may be of the few who question the validity of history as I stated earlier, it is created by winners. Winners who may insert a bias or manipulate the view on cultural groups when writing history such as the Andean people Cummins stated. This such history transcends among time to my generation and possibly in generations passed my own. Such history that can create an inaccurate opinion within (coughAmericancough) another society like the information brought to the Spanish empire about the Inca resulting in an inaccurate description about the Inca people. This history, or the inaccurate historical representation, originated from a Spaniard who conquered the Inca, and barely bothered to be properly informed about the lifestyle of the Inca.
Where does this inaccuracy lead us…well TO US! If I was taught that Inca people were similar to those in Disney movies and that they were easily toppled by the Spanish empire without any resistance, I am misrepresenting the Inca by consumption. Similar to the half of the United States, I would have been someone who will exclude the actual representation of Inca. If a historical misrepresentation can transcend through time, what will it teach children about the groups who are being marginalized against? What will it teach the children about the indigenous people of the Andes, Peru, Bolivia, and all of South America? What will historical inaccuracy teach children about world history? What will world history become of if it was only written by the winners? What will happen if children only knew about one side of a story? Misrepresentation and inaccuracies creates obnoxious ignorance.
Cummins, Thomas BF. “We are the other: Peruvian portraits of colonial Kurakakuna.” Transatlantic encounters: Europeans and Andeans in the sixteenth century (1991): 203-31.
O’toole, Rachel. “The Spanish and the Myths of Conquest.” Humanities Core Lecture, Humanities Core, 12 January 2016 Humanities Instructional Building, Irvine, California, Lecture.