Leyenda Negra is the name given to a historical theory that shows how story and legend can both be used as weapons of war and conquest.
In the 16th Century, Spain's European rivals created stories and legends to undermine and demonise Spain's collonial achievements. Spanish collonial atrocities were exagerated and sensationalised, while those of its European rivals were minimised and justified. Spain's achievements and conquests were minimised. In practise, this means that the Spanish were portrayed as brutish thieves and the countries they conquered as worthless places with ignorant, savage natives.
Many historians suggest that the stories persist. Films and global media still portray pirates as Spanish and Mexicans and other Hispanic cultures as backward and unstable. The subtle reinforcement of the narrative remains useful in a political landscape where much of the western world is moving towards the right, but Spain and much of the Hispanic world are more left-leaning.
As a person of mixed heritage (Filipino, Mexican and Spanish), I can see these stories play out and affect my life in many ways. Can we change the narrative or are we condemned to always be seen as less than?
Leyenda Negra (The Black Legend)
Acrylic on canvass
150cm x 100cm