Biblical Roots of the Discourse of Mass Destruction in Las Casas' Devastation of the Indies
Bartholomé de Las Casas started out as an eighteen-year old soldier in a voyage
Although the Devastation of the Indies is widely used as a primary resource for many classes in History, English and Latin American Studies departments in American universities, there are very few academic studies on it. Because of its undeniable role in shaping early colonial consciousness, The Devastation of the Indies deserves more of scholarly attention today. This study is an attempt to bridge this important gap through a rhetorical analysis of the parallels between the discourse of mass destruction in the Devastation and Biblical apocalyptic discourse with special emphasis on the book of Ezekiel. It draws its method from New Historicism, whose aim, according to Stephen Greenblatt, is “to put cultural objects in some interesting relationship to social and historical processes.”
New historicism depends upon the uncomfortable, and what I hope is at the same time fascinating ability to see the object coming out and going in, to see it differentiated and also in powerful league with the world from which it has come
discourse of Las Casas in The Devastation is in powerful league with
Biblical apocalyptic discourse, partly because interpreting colonial experience
in Biblical terms was a common practice for early and late settlers in the
Through Foucault’s theory on the role of discourse in the legitimization of power, my study explains certain aspects of the complex relationship between religious and political motives behind Las Casas’ “true account” of the conquest, and of the reasons why it served as a propaganda pamphlet at the time.
My study will also analyze the following aspects of apocalyptic rhetoric in the Devastation:
a) exclusive claim to transcendent truth b) reveiling what is revealed c) textual panopticism d) dualistic definition of the good and the evil. Finally, I will present common methods of apocalyptic violence that we find both in the Devastation and in the Bible, which include pestilence, indiscriminate killing, blood & fire, enslavement, cannibalism, extracting gold, and the last but not the least, depopulation.
 Pagden, Anthony. Introduction. A Short Account of the
Destruction of the
 Greenblatt, Stephen J. “Steven Greenblatt: The Wicked Son.” Interview with Harvey Blume.” Bookwire Review Page. 14.5.2003
 Houtepen, Anton.
“Apocalyptics and the
 Csábi, Szilvia. “The Concept of
 Foucault, Michel. Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972-1977. Brighton, Susse: Harvester Press, 1980.