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The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other

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The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other is a book by Tzvetan Todorov first published in 1982, detailing Spanish colonials' contact with natives upon the "discovery" of the Americas. Todorov analyzes texts and arguments from Spanish figures such as Pedro de Valdivia and Francisco de Vitoria. Todorov argues that the latter "demolishes the contemporary justifications of the wars waged in America, but nonetheless conceives that 'just wars' are possible," to make the Spanish "not only subject to the decision but also its judge, since it is they who select the criteria according to which the judgment will be delivered; they decide, for instance, that human sacrifice is the consequence of tyranny, but massacre is not."It has been described as "one of the most provocative books of our time" by Princeton anthropology professor Gananath Obeyesekere, writing in his 1992 book The Apotheosis of Captain Cook that deals with a similar theme of initial contact between Western and indigenous cultures. Obeyesekere also critiques several of the approaches taken by Todorov and the latter's reliance upon Spanish conquistador sources that are themselves responsible for generating stereotypical views on the "Otherness" of the native population—stereotypes that Todorov had in part set out to counter.Todorov's book was translated from French into English by Richard Howard.
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original title: La Conquête de l'Amérique
subtitle: La question de l'autre
language: French
date of publication: 1982
genre: essay

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