Essay The Berdache of Early American Conquest

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The Berdache of Early American Conquest Methodological Introduction This paper attempts to link the facet of queer theory that explains gender and sexuality as culturally constructed identities, with the presence of the berdache in the New World at the time of the Spanish conquest. By analyzing the construction of gender and sexuality among the native peoples, in contrast to the ideologies of the Spanish, I found a clash arose which explained, in some sense, the incompatibility of the two cultures. The differences between the two cultures' gender construction established support for the very "un'natural'" or "in'essential'" nature of gender, sexuality, and the body as a means of self-identity. By realizing the issue of power and…show more content…
The clash of gender identity existing between these two cultures led to misrepresentations of the natives by the Spaniards. It is also necessary, before diving into the concepts of this paper, that I elucidate the terms which I will be using, as they are easily confused. Gender, in the context of this paper will describe the sets of culturally prescribed behaviors, actions, and functions assigned to a particular sex. Sex, when used as an adjective, will refer to the biological or "chromosomal" physical identity which separates males from females. Sexuality, like gender, will be used to define individuals on the basis of their cultural/social role within society, but not as an unchangeable feature of a person's identity. It is important to distinguish the meaning of these terms because as they are commonly used, they are usually considered synonyms in some way. By separating and elucidating their meanings, I hope to further press the queer theorist argument that gender and identity within one's sexuality are deeply imbedded in social influences. The Berdache of Early American Conquest The Spanish encountered many things upon treading their first steps onto the soil of a new and mysterious continent. The natives were a group so foreign, the Spaniards questioned whether they were even human. This experience of contact, then conquest and colonization "introduced

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