Earthquake In Charles Walker's Shaky Colonialism

716 Words3 Pages

In 1746, an 8.5 earthquake struck about 50 miles north of Lima Peru, devastating the city. The earthquake then caused a tsunami that would destroy the port city Callao half an hour later. Many lives were lost, some to being crushed under the rubble of adobe buildings they lived in, some to the flooding, and some to the subsequent fallout of disease and hazardous living conditions. The loss of life totaled into the thousands. Charles Walker’s Shaky Colonialism, published in 2008, uses these natural disasters to closely examine the socio-political layers of colonial Latin American history. The title of the book can have dual meanings – that of the earthquake itself and the resulting socio-political and reformation issues that arose in Lima in …show more content…

The author describes the social division, or segregation of racially- mixed Lima before the earthquake in chapter 3, and how the disaster upended the social order. The earthquake did not discriminate, throwing all caste levels into homelessness, chaos, and subject to the same post-disaster fears of disease or death. Chapter 4 discusses the erosion of social order and the Viceroy’s vision to rebuild the city that makes better use of space and architecture. Walker notes that the upper-classes need to live above and look down at others in Lima, with poorly constructed housing, contributed to the collapse of many buildings. The Viceroy’s suggestion of rebuilding single-story homes in chapter 5, for the practicable purposes of withstanding another large earthquake was met with extreme opposition. Chapter 6 most addresses the church, and how it should be reconfigured. The government was convinced that the church was wholly responsible for the lack of suitable moral standards in Lima and called for secularization. Predictably, this caused considerable controversy and contention. Chapter 7 describes the members who were perhaps most blamed for the natural disaster – the women. Lima was known as a colonial Las Vegas, or “sin city.” The women were flirtatious and forward and whose degenerate sexual freedoms, according to nuns,

Open Document