Indigenous Americans in the Iberian Conquest

Indigenous Americans in the Iberian Conquest

Choose one of the following two options and write a 5-page research paper using at least 5 primary sources from the primary source reader assigned to your essay. You must also reference our class text (Latin America in Colonial Times) as well as the journal article assigned for your topic. In terms of citations, please provide the author name(s) and page numbers in parenthesis at the end of your sentence (for example: Restall and Lane, p.#). Do not cite lecture notes! Please also provide a bibliography that lists all secondary sources as well as the primary documents, itemized, that you use in your paper. No outside research!

1.            The Iberian conquerors of the early 16th century were motivated above all by the pursuit of profits; Iberian settlers of later centuries shared similar goals. How did Iberian demands for indigenous labor and land in the central areas of Spanish America shape the responses and realities of indigenous communities? Discuss the evolution of labor from the encomienda to wage labor and the evolution of land ownership from indigenous to increasingly Spanish, all the while considering the impact of all this on socio-economic hierarchies within the native communities. How did Spanish rule and Spanish economic demands shape the lives of indigenous elites as opposed to indigenous commoners? Use our class text, lecture notes, and the assigned journal article to craft your arguments, and use at least 5 primary sources from Mesoamerican Voices to support your arguments.

2.            While African slaves were forcefully taken to all parts of the Americas, their numbers were greatest in those areas where European colonies were built on the exploitation of slave labor on plantations. Discuss the many economic roles of African slaves in Brazil. Apart from the slaves’ economic roles, also think about hierarchies within the slave population and how those hierarchies as well as the geographic location of the slave impacted their daily lives in very real ways. In a final step, discuss the various forms of slave resistance to an institution, which in essence aimed at the complete dehumanization of the African slave in the name of profit and economic growth.  Use our class text, lecture notes, and the assigned journal article to craft your arguments, and use at least 5 primary sources from Children of God’s Fire to support your arguments.

Ten Tips on Writing Historical Essays

1. The question. Think about the essay question(s) for a few days. It is much easier to write an essay that you have spent some time thinking about first.

2. Reading. Read and re-read the relevant course materials, then take notes on them.

3. Notes and outline. Take notes on your lecture notes that correspond to the question. Assemble all your notes for the essay and review them to find central themes and patterns. Begin to organize the notes and write a detailed outline based on the following steps.

4. Thesis. After reviewing and organizing your notes, think of a thesis–a concise statement that summarizes your knowledge of the topic based on your readings and the lectures. Your thesis should respond directly to the essay question.

5. Main ideas. Choose several main points (at least three) that support your thesis statement, and a few good examples (primary sources!!!) to support each of these main points. Some of your main points are determined by the wording of the essay question. 

6. Introduction. This is where you introduce your thesis statement and also provide the necessary historical context. You also need to discuss the (types of) primary sources that you will use in this essay to prove your points.

7. The body of the essay: paragraphs and topic sentences. The three or four or five (probably not more) main points which you chose to support your thesis statement serve as the basis of topic sentences for each paragraph in the body of your essay. The topic sentence typically is the first sentence of each paragraph. If you have 5 main points that you want to make in the essay, you will have at least five major paragraphs in the body of your essay. Some main points require more than one paragraph because they contain related points.    

8. Evidence: use of primary sources. Each of the paragraphs should contain examples from the primary sources to support the topic sentence or main point of that paragraph. You present evidence to prove your general statements, responding to the question: “how do we know that?”  Some primary source examples are more complex and need more than one paragraph to discuss properly.

9. Conclusion. When you have covered all the main points, write a conclusion. Finish your essay with one strong paragraph that may summarize the main points and relate your topic to some of the larger issues covered in the course. The conclusion also is the only place in a historical paper where you may make references to the present or even bring up personal points of comparison. In any case, strive to write a strong conclusion that leaves a lasting impression on the reader.

10. Writing, revising, and rewriting. Write your essay from the detailed outline, print it, and mark it up with a pen. Look for errors and think of better ways to say what you mean. Read it aloud to yourself. Notice that your essay reads differently on paper than it does on a computer screen. Edit, reprint, and revise your essay several times, if necessary, before you print the final copy, and then proofread the final copy (ideally, the day before it is due). 


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