Guest speaker discussed Latin American history Thursday

By Franz Varga

Eric Van Young displayed his knowledge of Latin American history at the Center for Latino and Latin American Studies on Thursday.

Van Young, a professor from the University of California, San Diego, gave a seminar on the decolonization of Mexico. He then gave a lecture on the cultural and social aspects of the Mexican War of Independence that occurred between 1810 and 1821.

Van Young wrote The Other Rebellion, which received the Bolton-Johnson Award as the best book on Latin American history in 2002. He has also written many essays on Mexico.

The Center for Latino and Latin American Studies was excited to have Van Young come out.

“We are currently celebrating Latino Heritage Month, and Van Young was particularly attractive as an authority on the Mexican movements for independence,” said Michael Gonzales, director for the Center for Latino and Latin American Studies.

Gonzales said he expected there to be a high amount of students with an interest in on Van Young’s lecture, which was called It’s Not Your Grandpa’s Revolution: The Social and Cultural History of Mexican Independence.

The lecture provided a detailed look at the village life of people during the Mexican War of Independence. Van Young was critical of some common ideals of the revolution. He emphasized how the fighting occurring at that time was not as much about for fighting for one’s country as it was for self-defense. People were trying to protect their villages.

The lecture also examined the religious aspects of the war and the important role people played in terms of motivation.

Van Young said he looks at the experience of giving a lecture not as a task but as an opportunity.

“It’s a chance to enter into dialogue with other people,” Van Young said. “People ask you questions or suggest things that set you off on a path in your own work.”

Sophomore nursing major Eleni Mussared said Van Young had a strong understanding of the Mexican Independence movement and he managed to convey a lot of information in a short amount of time.

“It was a very deep presentation,” Mussared said.

Van Young said history is about looking at the past and finding patterns. He said when he looks at old documents are reads work from a person long dead, it’s a way to revive people.