MARIO VARGAS LLOSA - Questions of Conquest and Culture


In the tenth John Bonython Lecture, the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa reflects on mestizaje, the mingling of the indigenous African Indian population with the European settlers and the Africans who arrived with the Spanish conquistadors. Discussing its significance for 1992, the Quincentenary of European discovery of the Americas, and for 1993, the Year of the World’s Indigenous People, he rejects the utopian view that indigenous cultures can be re-established as they were before European settlement. Espousing the liberalism of Western Civilisation, he rejects the utopian view that indigenous cultures can be re-established as they were before European settlement. Espousing the liberalism of Western civilisation, he calls for a shift of attention away from the cruelties of the past and towards the sufferings of the present. The key question is: ‘Can these cultures become modern and overcome oppression while conserving…fundamental elements of their language, beliefs and traditions?’