thumbnail of The Institute on Man and Science; Cities and the suburbs
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
Latin American perspectives a program of comment and analysis about current Latin American problems and their historical setting. The commentator for these programs is Dr. C. Harvey Gardner research professor of history at Southern Illinois University. Here now is Dr. Gardner. Have you considered the relation between travel and history. It has always been with us this relationship between travel and history. Consider that moment when Adam and Eve were ousted from the Garden of Eden. Their travel made history and indeed in some of the tomorrows that fine astronaut's going aloft will again have trouble making history. Between that most remote moment in the biblical literature and our tomorrows travel has always made literature. I would remind you that literature and history and travel have been inseparable. Consider for example the fact that when Caesar pushed his armies into Gaul he became his own ace reporter and wrote those commentaries
which have plagued the students of Latin ever since. But at the same time he was his own war reporter. He was his own contributor to history even as he traveled. It was the same some centuries later when Marco Polo made his epochal trip from Europe into Asia and back giving one of the earliest reports it was to tantalize the appetites. Indeed the greed is the envy of Europeans for years to come as they thought of the wealth of the East. We wonder what it would be like where we don't have a fuller statement from Columbus about that first voyage West. But as it is we have to settle for a log but the log of his voyage is available to us. And so once again travel has made history and history was there recording it and holding it for all time. When in the course of the
Spanish penetration into Latin America Cortez led his army into Mexico. He again became the reporter for his own cause much in the manner of a Caesar and wrote long letters back to his Emperor reporting the progress of his movement against Montezuma and the Mexicans in more modern times and closer to us. We know that the entire pattern of American history is essentially related to travel. Indeed those first people who disliked Europe enough to leave it traveled across the Atlantic to get to our eastern seaboard and even though we commonly think of our westward movement as something that begins at our east coast it to be remembered that there was a westward movement even before that when people left English ports to come to our Atlantic seaboard. But a great deal of our 18th 19th century. Unravelled varying aspects
of travel related to history as the westward movement became part of our historical heritage. It has in varying degree in all parts of the world then found travel related to history. I would today speak briefly of a voyage to South America a volume published by Alfred a can off of New York detailing the writing of two Spaniards a man named Juan J you a n and the other named who you are. You double l o a. These two Spaniards won and who wrote a voyage to South America made their particular trip to that continent about the time of the birth of George Washington and so history takes its backward glance for some two hundred and thirty almost forty years. As we look to this particular voyage. In early
eighteenth century use it may be recalled that the ruler in Spain was a member of the house of bourbon and as such the Spanish government friendlier than usual to the French government was willing to accept the proposal of a certain French scientists that an expedition be sent into Spanish America to some point on the equator at which astrological and astronomical observations could be made that would permit the more precise measuring of the latitude at the longitude. Indeed dimensions of the earth. And so with the French inspiration coming to the crown of Spain there was at once the response that surely some Spaniards could go along with the French scientists.
And so the two young men one and all your joined what was basically a French scientific expedition and made their way to the new world. One in New York were very penetrating observers of the van South American scene and they wrote not one volume but several volumes. Only one of which concerns us today. Indeed one that is not our concern today became a private a confidential report about some of the abuses that Spanish officials indulged some of the unhealthy aspects of the colonial system. It became as it were a confidential report much in the manner of a bank examiner going back to the crown. So that could be a recommendation for policy changes. But the volume entitled The voyage to South America is the kind of armchair travelers account which
acquaint people with far away places with different ways of life and settings that well the readers have never seen and perhaps never hoped to set eyes upon in their own real life times. And so we wander through South America first Panama and then Colombia and Ecuador and Peru looking through the eyes of Juan and who you are. The one man was very much of an engineer. The other more of the observer of life life as he saw it whether it was a human or a plant. He was the observer of the scene. The contemporary scene the two combine in their writings but the volume of voyage to South America is primarily a view of what it was like living in Ecuador
in Peru approximately two hundred fifty years ago. Then as now governments that had overseas empires had problems of relating themselves and their thinking to the strange peoples then as now there were minority issues and then as now there were cultural clashes and indeed chasms that call for understanding between the people from the home country and those living in the colonies. One of the better areas in which to observe the penetrating outlook and at the same time see some of the inborn prejudice of the Spaniard in the new world isn't a chapter that find them considering the customs and manners of the Indians in the area that is present day Ecuador. The Spanish authors wrote these
words it is no easy task to exhibit a true picture of the customs and inclinations of the Indians and precisely display their genius and real turn of mind. For if considered as part of the human species the narrow limits of their understanding seem to clash with the dignity of the soul. And such is their stupidity that in certain particulars one can scarce forbear entertaining an idea that they are really beasts and even destitute of that instinct we observe in the brute creation while in other respects a more comprehensive judgment better digested schemes and conducted with greater subtlety are not to be found than among these people. You know it in this very short extract. But there is that air of condescension. There is that automatic awareness of
insistence upon the superiority of the Spaniard. Indeed as the indeed is indicted for stupidity termed a beast you have it obvious that the Spaniard is observing the Indian from afar that he has no linguistic capacity for communicating with him that it is a rash and unfair judgment. And this of course is something that might carry over into present day living and life for many more people in that they are unfairly judged from a distance and without channels of communication being open. There is an unfair unreasonable indeed and untrue assumption of a superior inferior relationship. Continuing with this kind of interpretation from the Spaniards we read such is the disposition of the Indians that
if in their indifference to temporal things he did not extend also to the eternal they might be said to equal the happiness of the Golden Age of which the ancient poets have given such in chanting descriptions the Indians possess a tranquillity immutable either by fortunate or unfortunate events in their mien apparel there was contented as the miner closed with the most blended in inventions of luxury and so far they from entertaining a desire for better or more comfortable clothing. But they give themselves no manner of concern about lengthening their own though half their bodies continue naked. They show the like disregard for riches and even that authority or grander within their reach is so little the object of their ambition that to all appearance it is the same thing to an Indian whether he be created a lord or a commoner. Note here as the Indians disposition is viewed by the Spaniard.
All of it is a matter of interpretation in terms of the standards the values of the Spaniard. There is an automatic assumption that these are the only values that count. But these must be the bases upon which judgments are made concerning enjoyment of life concerning patterns of dress and all else. Further you have the Spaniard writing the Indians are in general remarkably slow. In fact there is a proverb that says it's only fit to be done by an Indian. If it is a job that requires a long long time in weaving and in many other practices they consume so much time that indeed they count the thread one by one and yours are required to finish a single article. This is from want of method. Notice again the obvious superiority of the outsider insisting that his culture his way of life indeed must come to supplant that
of the colonial And so you have cultural clash in the interpretation of the way of the Indians and their lives in the volume entitled A voyage to South America. The authors the two Spaniards won and the book published by Alfred a can off of New York. This was a Latin American perspectives with Dr S. Harvey Gardner research professor of history at Southern Illinois University joins us for our next program on Dr. Gardner We'll examine another aspect of life in Latin America. Latin American perspectives is produced and recorded by station WFIU FM at Southern Illinois University and is distributed by the national educational radio network.
The Institute on Man and Science
Cities and the suburbs
Producing Organization
Institute on Man and Science
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-tb0xv22f).
Episode Description
This program presents the lecture "The Cities and the Suburbs" by Irving M. Levine, Director, Education and Urban Planning Department, American Jewish Committee.
Series Description
A lecture and discussion series on major current problems like urban decay; pollution; space exploration; and the role of science in finding solutions. Talks were held during the summer of 1968 at the Institute on Man and Science, New York.
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Producing Organization: Institute on Man and Science
Speaker: Levine, Irving M.
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-33-6 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:27:22
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “The Institute on Man and Science; Cities and the suburbs,” 1968-10-16, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 5, 2023,
MLA: “The Institute on Man and Science; Cities and the suburbs.” 1968-10-16. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 5, 2023. <>.
APA: The Institute on Man and Science; Cities and the suburbs. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from