Diana Marie Cortada: Miami as Text 2022

Photograph of Diana Cortada in the Vizcaya Garden taken by Destiny Perez and edited by Diana Cortada | CC by 4.0

Hey everyone! My name is Diana Cortada and I am currently a senior at FIU majoring in Psychology on a pre-Physician Assistant track. I am on the road to preparing and applying to PA schools this upcoming month. Since the start of my college career, I always felt as though I wanted to have a different college experience. I wanted to eventually join a program through which I could travel, study and meet new individuals who I’d eventually call friends. Although I’d made the attempt to study abroad back in 2020 and the pandemic did it’s finest work at not allowing this to happen, I made a second attempt two years later and I’m finally proud to say it’s been much more successful than the first time around. This is all thanks to Professor Bailly, whose grandiose efforts have pushed us farther into allowing for the fruition of this class and this trip. I’m so excited to see what I’ll learn from this course, from this culture and from myself.

Deering as Text

“An EnDeering Experience”

By Diana Marie Cortada of FIU at The Deering Estate on January 28, 2022.

The famous Mediterranean Revival Stone House established at the Deering Estate exemplified a history so rich it was astounding in the sense that the very little details we often miss, were what made this exhibit so captivating. My first experience in Deering Estate was my quinceañera photoshoot, where I chose the location for its diversity in nature and rustic architectural style. However, little did I know at the time that both the Stone House and the Richmond Cottage were historical landmarks built on Tequesta land, the indigenous inhabitants that resided on the Bay before the arrival of colonizers, on the backs of African-American and Afro-Bahamian workers. Some of the intricate, architectural details of the house included the use of native animals in the structure of the columns and the visible manifestations of Islamic culture as viewed in the structure of the windows. This Spanish looking villa made of Florida’s illustrious limestone was actually built in 1922 based off of Charles Deering’s home in Sitges, Spain.

La Tierra Tequesta

The heading reads “The Tequesta Land” as they were the very first inhabitants documented of what came to be Miami before Ponce de Leon’s arrival at Biscayne Bay in 1513. Professor Bailly led us to the Tequesta Midden where we were shown to what seemed to be shells that were used as tools by the Tequesta to cut food, shuck shellfish, and fight amongst other daily tasks. What was most impressive was that the indigenous tribe showed signs of using the earliest form of a drill with only a conch shell and a stick. The Tequesta would insert a stick through the hole of a conch shell and spin it rapidly to create that drill effect.

Evidence of the Tequesta remains on the land dates back to 500 BCE, 2,500 years ago and proof of this was their burial mound. It was said that members of the Tequesta were buried in a ritualistic manner, whose bodies would form a circular shape around their heads placed in the middle and all of it was covered in the shells and sand from Biscayne. The remains of the Tequesta in the 10 foot mound now feed the roots of a 600 year old oak tree. When viewing the mound myself, it reminded me that life continues to build on without our presence eventually. We become the nutrients of future trees, plants, animals and this, I believe, depicts a beautiful narrative that we are one with nature no matter how far we stow away from it with technology and the lack of preservation as the years go on.

When visiting the Deering Estate, Professor Bailly was very fond of the natural habitats in the environment. There were so many different ecosystems we were exposed to, I truly couldn’t wrap my head around the possibility that salt water and freshwater could reside in the same place. Within the mangroves of the estate, there are clear spacings that are freshwater springs. Wildlife is so diverse that crocodiles and shellfish live in what seem to be the same waters! Sightings of manatees were apparent by the Boat Basin where watercraft is prohibited because of the many threatened species residing in the basin. I found it fascinating how the human species and wildlife species all have a tendency to compete, especially over partnerships. After Professor Bailly’s explanation on manatee mating in the basin, I couldn’t help but to compare how we show some of the same characteristics of mating. During puberty, males tend to mature, hormonally, much quicker than females. As testosterone levels increase, the desire for mating increases as well which in turn increases the competition of “who gets the girl.” Making these connections also relates back to the idea that no matter how far we stow away from nature, we will always be one with nature, and what better way to prove it than through science?

Although it was an enlightening visit in the sense that I left with more knowledge about where I actually took my quinceañera photos, there was also a common theme in each of Professor Bailly’s walking lectures that were not so “endeering” after all. The historical landmark was built in a time of racial segregation. Afro-Bahamians and African Americans worked to create what we now see in Deering Estate and still, the white man continues to profit off of these hardworking individuals. This is an issue still present today. Although it is much more subtle than it was in the 1800s-1900s, it is still very much present and such events come to light on social media. Because of social media, we remain informed and while there is still racism in our communities today, we continue to advocate for black voices against the injustices of the police, the justice system, etc.

There is beauty in the structural and environmental aspects of Deering Estate, the land has much to offer in different categories including architecture and nature. But, it functions as a facade to distract from the true horrors that occurred when constructing such a space. Although the arrival of colonizers eventually led to Charles Deering’s presence in Miami, it wiped out an entire civilization of indigenous peoples. So long as we continue to educate visitors at the Deering Estate about the true history of Miami and how Deering Estate came about, we can remind them that this is not the kind of behavior we want from society in the future and we acknowledge that America was built by slaves, not the white man.

Vizcaya as Text

“If Miami Were an Object”

By Diana Marie Cortada of FIU at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens on February 18, 2022.

Photographs of Vizcaya Villa taken and edited by Diana Cortada | CC by 4.0

Miami is known for its playfulness and cultural diversity. Its reputation has been upheld for those who have an affinity for fun, adventure and ecstasy. No other establishment embodies such a representation of Miami as Vizcaya Villa and Garden. The museum and gardens reveal several sexual innuendos, continuing to show Miami’s mischievous and erotic tendencies. Some examples of these implications could be seen majorly in the garden where a marble statue of a woman, Leda, is seen kissing a swan, symbolizing Zeus’s masculine desire for romantic domination over Leda.

James Deering allows for the culmination of Spanish, Italian and French culture through the indoor and outdoor architecture of Vizcaya. The intentional addition of caravels in each of the loggias gave significance to the adventurous visitor and exposed an appreciation for the Spanish settlers who landed in what is now called Biscayne Bay, who allowed for the beginning of what we now know as Miami’s cultural culmination of eroticism.

Many of the architectural details of the house had different artistic interpretations. James Deering was able to create an ambiance in the house as if each room consisted of a different personality, one of which my very own OCD tendencies would not allow me to do. He remains playful with the style, the architecture, and the art as if the house was just one, big three dimensional masterpiece. This can be seen by the difference in the linear and structured symmetry of the Entrance Hall where one who visits experiences a sense of balance, contradicting the Living Room of the house, where there are a mix of cultures within each art piece like the Mudejar carpet.

Photographs of Vizcaya Villa West Entrance Loggia taken and edited by Diana Cortada | CC by 4.0

In the west entrance loggia of the house, one is greeted by a statue of Bacchus, the Roman God of wine and ecstasy. This man stands over a bath tub as he pours grapes, representative of the wine, into it while children watch from the sides. His stance portrays a more relaxed tone. This statue is what Miami would be if it were an object. The addition of children with playful expressions, the dominating yet relaxing pose of the God showing powerful yet pleasurable expressions. Miami is a hotspot and this is the atmosphere that James Deering was able to embody and create with the Vizcaya Villa in 1916! The characteristics that make Miami what it is today all stemmed from James Deering’s architectural components of his Villa and now visitors get to experience Miami in 1916.

Downtown Miami as Text

“Patria y Vida”

By Diana Marie Cortada of FIU at Downtown Miami on March 11, 2022.

Photograph of Freedom Tower taken and edited by Diana Cortada | CC by 4.0

When people say that Miami was built different, they aren’t wrong. Even before its official establishment as a city, so many different feet had walked the land of Miami. From the Tequesta as the known, original inhabitants of the land, to the Spanish and Northern settlers, to the Bahamian laborers and the Seminoles. So many paths have crossed in the place we now call our hometown and I found this fascinating as Miami is still, to this day, so culturally and ethnically diverse.

Similar to the statue of Bacchus that greets its guests at Vizcaya, there is artwork all over Miami that attempts to portray the authenticity, the diversity and the playfulness of the city. Artists such as Claes Oldenburg, Coosje van Bruggen and other unknown street artists come to an impromptu agreement that Miami art should scream chaos and representation. This is clearly shown by the broken bowl of sliced oranges whose creators felt the fruit was “very Miami.” I’d have to disagree with the artists in that oranges are mainly a Florida thing but there are so many other, more representative objects that exemplify Miami culture. A mango, guava, or a croqueta would have better represented this portrayal of Miami culture since it stems so heavily from Cuban culture.

In addition to the abstract art all throughout the city, I found it particularly interesting the kinds of connections I made with the past and how I could possibly envision myself walking the streets of Downtown Miami in the late 1800s. The presence of balconies and windows in the architectural construction of the older buildings was a way of communication and the start of drama during this time. People would look out of the balcony or window and see someone they knew arriving to town, as elucidated by professor Bailly. I could envision myself mainly because of the windows. Although used as a form of communication In the past, they’ve been repurposed to what we call “la ventanita.” La ventanita is now a well known window used in Miami coffee shops and restaurants to sell coffee and allow for customers to order at the window and chat with other customers. La ventanita and Cuban coffee are staples in our city and it was interesting to see how its development came about and how it was historically made for a different purpose. One can’t imagine la ventanita serving any other purpose but to buy coffee.

Walking Downtown Miami, I also saw unpleasurable sights of a city rummaged in pollution and littering. Even though Henry Flagler began building Miami’s reputation with the construction of his hotel, the Royal Palm Hotel, I can’t help but to think what Miami would have been like if the Miami River remained clean and the Tequesta culture was celebrated rather than obliterated. The ceremonial remains of the Tequesta as found in the Miami Circle were sold as souvenirs and I can’t help but connect that to how the world is today. Today, and even in the past, we’ve lost touch with humanity. It really is every man for himself in this lifetime. The fact that Flagler placed profit over cherishing the lives of those lost, regardless of their race or ethnicity, just shows how out of touch we are with being sympathetic and this has also been exposed with the COVID-19 pandemic. People have no regard for the health of safety of others, only if it happens to them personally. This is definitely something that as a species we need to reconsider and improve in later years for generations to come.

Photograph of Posters of Cuban Immigrants in The Freedom Tower taken and edited by Diana Cortada | CC by 4.0

Patria y Vida

Walking into The Freedom Tower and observing the posters, all I could think about were the struggles of my family’s journey to the United States. Unfortunately my grandparents were busy raising my newborn mother, aunts and uncle back when the Cuban immigration took place in search of liberty so I have no history of family members who walked through these same halls that I did. Every Cuban can tell you their journey is different. Each story, however, come with a common search for freedom from the Communist regime that ruined what used to be such a culturally-rich and beautiful country. The hardships faced by Cubans who were lucky enough to make it to the United States and raise their future generations here are obstacles I can’t imagine facing and for that I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to live freely and have been offered choices in this country thanks to my parents sacrifice of leaving their family and their homes, stepping out of their comfort zone to provide me a future without poverty, starvation and exploitation, all while given the freedom to have a voice and fight for my rights. Cubans living in Cuba currently have unfortunately not been gifted with this opportunity and although they’ve been shown much support for their desire for freedom in the country by Cubans living in Miami, Cuba is currently in a state of emergency and despair. They were so hungry that they ate their fear, “tenian tanta hambre que se comieron el miedo,” was a statement made in protest against the Communist regime still taking place after 60 years of keeping its citizens in impoverished conditions.

SoBe as Text

“Thank You Barbara”

By Diana Marie Cortada of FIU at South Miami Beach on April 1, 2022.

Photograph of Building in South Miami Beach taken and edited by Diana Cortada | CC by 4.0

Visiting South Beach, I could smell, taste, feel, and hear the Miami culture that surrounds it. This is Miami. It overstimulates your senses with its overwhelming depiction of ecstasy, fun and freedom. I felt almost like a sense of pride learning about the history of the streets I’ve walked and biked my entire life. It brings me much joy to know that Miami was, and still is, the city you go to with ideas, dreams and to live this luxury of a life. Luxurious in the sense that it is a city that people come to to live the best parts of life. There is so much diversity in the culture of Miami, including adopted cuisines, music, and architectural and structural adaptations, there’s simply no way you can’t not get a taste of every bit of the world in this city. Take for example, the Art Deco themed buildings that line all of Ocean Drive. Adoptions from several different cultures can be seen such as the Mediterranean style roof tiles on Gianni Versace’s Italian inspired mansion and even on the building located next to the Ocean Five Hotel with symmetrical Egyptian art depictions at the top.

Out of all of the architectural styles seen along Ocean Drive, the white facades with pastel highlights along with the neon and glass bricks were the most aesthetically pleasing in my opinion. These styles were popular in the 1930s, however, they remain semi-popular to this day and the white with pastel highlights are actually now seen in every day fashion. It’s like the past is slowly but surely making a comeback but with an added modern twist. I can’t quite put my finger on what I mean by “modern twist” but I think it’s because a lot of the styles popularized in the ’70s through the ’90s are now becoming popularly worn by generation Z fashion enthusiasts but with certain aspects that are visibly different.

Photograph of Barbara Baer Capitman Memorial taken and edited by Diana Cortada | CC by 4.0

Barbara Baer Capitman was an activist and a preservationist for the South Beach Art Deco district. She founded the Miami Design Preservation League and fought along side its members to keep the Art Deco architecture intact. South Beach’s authenticity would be demolished if it wasn’t for her passionate and courageous efforts. I wouldn’t imagine it would be easy for a woman to actually be heard, much less succeed and accomplish her goal. I have so much to thank her for. Because of her, I was able to build wonderful memories with friends and family. Trying my first alcoholic drink at Leslie, speed walking the streets of Ocean Drive with friends to make it on time to our dinner reservations at the Sugar Factory, spending teacher planning days at Ocean and 7th street eating watermelon at the beach, and biking and rollerblading past the Clevelander Bar. Because of her role in preserving the architectural art of Miami Beach, I was able to experience Miami like people experienced Miami in the ’20s and ’30s and build my own memories in such a historical part of this landmark.

Diana Marie Cortada: Vuelta España 2022

Vuelta: I am…

by Diana Cortada of FIU


When touring Parc Güell, my peers and I had sat on the benches while admiring its unique, mosaic architectural design, truly taking our time soaking in the work of Antoni Gaudi and the elements of Modernismo surrounding the Greek Theater. It was at this moment that Professor Bailly asked us who we were? No matter how much pondering I could have possibly done with such a question, I knew the answer to this question became so much clearer now after attending this program. The question triggered me to think back on my experiences in Madrid.

Miami Metrorail System “Miami-Dade Transit Pet Policy – Pets on FL Public Transport.” Pet Friendly Travel, 9 Sept. 2020, petfriendlytravel.com/pft_trains/miami-dade-transit-pet-policy/. 

Walking the sidewalk in Madrid at what seemed like a steep incline compared to Miami’s flat landscape, we’d reached the renowned Atocha train station. The Atocha station, also known as Madrid Puerta de Atocha is the primary railway station of Madrid, transporting an average of 94,000 passengers a day and covering about 104,195 meters squared of total surface area (UIC Communications n.d.). Inaugurated in 1851 as La Estacion del Mediodia, the train station has provided transportation for residents for hundreds of years and connected various forms of public transport like metros and buses through three different sections of the station: Madrid Puerta de Atocha, Madrid-Atocha Cercanias, and Atocha Renfe (CIVITATIS n.d.). 

The closest comparison I could make of my experience riding a train in Madrid was riding the metrorail in Downtown Miami back to the Miami-Dade Government Center. The metrorail system was Florida’s fastest transit system and largest public project from 1979-1984 (Metrorail 2015). After just three decades, the metrorail extended from Kendall all the way through Miami International Airport, similar to the route direction of Atocha. Passing through the station, we came across what seemed like a dark underground room with sunlight shining through a tunnel on the roof of the room. Squinting my eyes, I could see that on the walls of that tunnel were expressions of sorrow from citizens in regards to the worst terrorist attack that occurred in Europe, the bombing of four commuter trains in Spain that took place on March 11, 2004 in this very station (Lomholt 2020). Admiring the architectural design that was intended to instill a shimmer of hope from a site of such sorrow, I was reminded of the lives we lost due to the terrorist attacks that took place in the United States on September 11, 2001. What I’d taken from this was that communities from both continents became stronger despite the losses we suffered in these times. 

Quality of Life

Appreciation of Nature

Photograph of the Atocha train station Tropical Garden in Madrid taken and edited by Diana Marie Cortada | CC BY 4.0

We kept walking to find the oldest part of Atocha, which was made a foyer in 1992. However, in this supposed foyer resided a large tropical garden consisting of over 500 species of different plants and animals including small turtles and providing a sense of peacefulness to the already noisy, busy train station (CIVITATIS n.d.). I could clearly see Spain’s appreciative attitude towards nature, especially during my visit to El Parque del Buen Retiro. 

Walking around El Retiro, I was in shock as I observed many people in their bathing suits sunbathing and reading, soaking in the ardent summer sun. Living in Miami, you’d probably come across people at the beach in bathing suits but not in a park where there is no body of water to dive in after. It was also when I made this observation that I noticed the amount of emphasis provided on the preservation of nature, leading me to conclude that the officials who helped organize the opening of this park perhaps had in mind the quality of life of its residents and visitors. Indeed, the park was created in the 1600s, promoted by Count Duke of Olivares, with the intention of providing a space where the king could relax and entertain himself (Toledo 2019). Bullfights, palace balls, plays and poetry performances were held in the park as well as water games inside the Big Pond whose use now is to attract visitors to ride small boats and enjoy the scenery. After Charles III allowed Madrilenians into the park, he promoted the implementation of changes to fit the ideas of the Enlightenment, with areas in the park dedicated to cultivation and farming (Toledo 2019).

Tropical Park “Preferred Parks near Me in the United States.” Miami, Florida RV Parks | MobileRVing.com, mobilerving.com/tropical-park/rv-parks/23704. 

With these considerations in mind, I began to make comparisons with the infamous Tropical Park. Very rarely in Miami do we see parks that genuinely cater to the good and well-being of its local residents and Tropical Park was the first that came to mind. Despite the area of bike rentals by the hill where people are free to gather for picnics and hang outs, Tropical Park reaps profits from its visitors as much as any other park in Miami. I’m hyperbolizing when I say the park is 90% parking lot and 10% actual greenery but in reality, the majority of the park is for holding different kinds of events, ranging from food festivals to sports games, all of which the park profits off of. Due to the overly increasing population in Miami, Dade County is facing increased congestion, diminished quality of life, declining recreation and conservation of open space, limited transportation and social inequities (Miami-Dade County 2007). Aside from the art galleries and artists selling their paintings in El Retiro, the park mainly focuses on the celebration of culture and history. El Paseo del Prado, which was initially an area of recreation in the 15th century after Philip II contribution to the remodeling and beautification of the park, gives rise to the urban renewal that had strong influences on Latin America and the creation of an area dedicated to the social elements of research and science (Landscape of Light n.d.).

Photographs of Los Jardines del Campo del Moro in Madrid taken and edited by Diana Marie Cortada | CC BY 4.0

The celebration of nature continued when I explored the Jardines de Sabatini, also known as Jardines del Campo del Moro,  in the northern facade of the Palacio Real de Madrid. I was in awe of the geometric accuracy of the bushes, the aligned placement of the magnolia and pine trees and the symmetry of the entire garden. It was created in the 1930s after Spain had just proclaimed the Second Republic, in the hands of Fernando Garcia Mercadal who removed the stables placed by Francesco Sabatini and planted the plants and trees that populate the garden today (Sanchez 2021). These were all areas in Madrid where I was given the opportunity to appreciate the natural world around me, something I’d like to introduce to and practice more often at home. 

Ocean Drive vendors Greenberg, Jeff. “Florida, Miami Beach, ‘Ocean Drive’, Art Deco Weekend, Festival, Fair, Exhibitors, Vendors.” Agefotostock, 15 Apr. 2011, http://www.agefotostock.com/age/en/details-photo/florida-miami-beach-ocean-drive-art-deco-weekend-festival-fair-exhibitors-vendors-booths-lummus-park/G14-1397557. 

After meditating and adopting a sense of peacefulness and gratefulness in El Parque de Maria Luisa in Sevilla, I followed a trail of horses with carriages to la Plaza de España, where I got to see truly Spanish culture for what it was. Flamenco dancers gathered at the center of the building, performing tablaos for visitors in the form of celebration and embracing their culture. This cultural manifestation was one I was very impressed with but definitely a similarity Miami shares with Spain. All along Ocean Drive, there are various street vendors, much like the ones I’d seen in Barceloneta on the night of the Fire Feast Festival of Sant Joan. However, there are also manifestations on that same strip of dancers who come to share their art, but instead of many different cultures. Although Miami is a major melting pot of Latin Culture, I would enjoy introducing Spain with more Latino culture and embracing it for its beauty and diversity, and not just the historical aspect portrayed in the Museo de Las Americas in Madrid. Instead, it’d be great to showcase how modernized the culture has become, and to actually represent it aside from playing reggaeton at nightclubs, as Miami has successfully done.

Spanish Cuisine

Traditional Spanish tapa dishes “Traditional and Unique Food in Spain.” HousingAnywhere, housinganywhere.com/Spain/traditional-unique-food-in-spain. 

Eating at the oldest restaurant in the world, El Sobrino de Botin, I was surrounded by musicians playing instruments, dressed as though they were in the 1700s and I observed as they sliced the jamon iberico right off of the leg of the pig. Fresh ham, served with manchego cheese, spanish tortilla, croquetas and bread with olive oil or tomato paste. These servings are referred to as tapas, or appetizers. The roasted lamb and the small pig, cochinillo, were among the many traditional Madrilenian foods served at this restaurant, always accompanied by patatas bravas or en aceite (Botin 2022). I thought of the many times I’d visited my family in Cuba and they’d chow down on a pan con tomate, Cuban bread with tomato slices, if they could get their hands on bread that day of course. Pork was another staple I ate in Spain that reminded me of home. Every holiday in Miami, my family dedicates their time to make an entire pork for the family. We also purchase a whole pig to make when visiting our family in Cuba so that once we come back to Miami, they are left with food supply for the next couple of days after we are gone. Our holiday cuisine dates back to when the “Father of the American pork industry,” Hernando de Soto, brought over 13 pigs to Tampa Bay in 1539 for consumption (Vann 2009). However, this herd of pigs reproduced and accumulated after Soto’s death and some were able to escape being eaten by troops, becoming wild pigs (Vann 2009). 

Pork, Arroz Moro, and fried plantains: a traditional Cuban dish TEAM, BandBCuba.com. “Typical Cuban Dishes You Must Try While in the Island.” BandBCuba.com, 10 Oct. 2018, http://www.bandbcuba.com/blog/traditions/cuban-dishes-must-try/. 

Almost every Cuban dish is tossed in sofrito, which is a blend of garlic, onions and peppers. They actually adopted the sofrito concept from French and Spanish cuisine. However, Cubans made modifications to fit their cultural style and preferred flavors, not including as much carrots and celery from French sofrito and tomatoes from Spanish sofrito (Admincuba 2021). Eating predominantly Spanish dishes that influenced the Miamian Cuban cuisine was always missing what makes Cuban food Cuban, and it was the addition of platano as a side or arroz moro. Whether it was fried plantains, tostones or just bananas with every meal aside from arroz moro, I was able to further confirm my lack of relation to Spain through the differences in something as simple as a side dish. The term arroz moro came from the historical fight between Moors and Christians, the rice representing the chrsitians and the black beans representing the moors, that lasted hundreds of years on the Iberian peninsula (Admincuba 2021). 

Guayaba y Queso Pastelitos “Little Bites of Deliciousness: Indulge in a Cuban Guava Pastry – La Sorpressa Latina Cuban Cafe.” Awesome Image, http://www.lasorpresalatinacubancafe.com/2015/10/31/little-bites-of-deliciousness-indulge-in-a-cuban-guava-pastry/. 

Unique from Spanish cuisine, regardless of its major influences on Cuban cuisine, were the island’s native fruits such as mango, guava, mamey and mamoncillos (Admincuba 2021). Guava, which is now also a Miami staple as a result of Cuban influence, is a fruit commonly grown and consumed in Cuba but is also used in Miami to make pastelitos or even eaten as a casquito de guayaba con queso. It amazed me to experience food that seemed so close to home to have varied so distinctly in texture and taste. Unlike Spain, where one enjoys a glass of tinto de verano with every evening meal, one can expect Miamians to enjoy some mamoncillos in the summer with some Cuban bread sandwiches when at the beach.


El Palacio Real de Madrid was built in the 16th century with the intention of portraying the ostentatiousness of the Christian religion through a palace that would house royals, however it was built over a 9th century Muslim castle (Zaino 2017). After it was burned down in 1734, King Philip V ordered its reconstruction, which is the palace that still stands (Zaino 2017). Entering each room of the palace, there were representations of royals being crowned by angels, masterpieces on ceilings that I’m sure took the work several hands and years to complete. Learning this brought me the same feeling of discomfort as did the construction of the cathedral within what was once an Islamic mosque in La Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba. After the mosque was constructed in 785 CE when Cordoba was the capital of Muslim rule who controlled Al-Andalus, Christians conquered Cordoba in la Reconquista and converted the mosque to a cathedral, leaving behind the Islamic elements to show their triumph against Muslims (Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba 2022). The knowledge that Christians constantly sought out superiority among other religions and worried more about ostantaseous materials elevating God and the heavens, like the building of cathedrals over other religious grounds, made me challenge my faith. Like if I may have been regretful of following the Catholic faith, ashamed even, that those before me could have committed so many atrocities against humanity just for having a different opinion, something profoundly relevant still in today’s politics and religious beliefs. I was able to see Islam as not was it is potrayed to be by hateful people, Hispanics even, but instead by its faith and its goal to promote peace, fairness, and unity in their God. This became even more apparent when I visited la Alhambra in Granada. From what was known as a military zone, to what became the royal residence and court of Granada in the 13th century, la Alhambra was a fortress, palace and small medina all in one (Alhambra Valparaiso Ocio y Cultura SL n.d.). It was seized in 1492 by Catholic monarchs and became a Christian court (Alhambra Valparaiso Ocio y Cultura SL n.d.). Yet again another instant to challenge my faith in Catholicism. 

However, it wasn’t until my visit to la Catedral de Sevilla and the Sant Jeroni hike of Montserrat that I felt my faith was reinforced. Despite yet again, the replacement of yet another mosque, the Almohad mosque, the cathedral of Seville met its intention of being a magnificent place of worship (Roller 2020). Entering the cathedral that still stood after hundreds of years since its initial construction traces in 1248 was a breathtaking experience (Roller 2020). Mainly because of the organs playing and the birds soaring in the high domes of the church, I felt the presence of God in that moment. At this moment I realized that my religion is not what the past made it out to be, it is what I make of it now and how I choose to contribute to the betterment of the mistakes committed in the past. To accept others as we’ve been accepted, to love and tolerate our neighbors, regardless of their faith, and to share peace and be unified regardless of our beliefs because at the end of the day, we are all searching for the same thing, peace and guidance from our faith. 


As in awe as I was with the Gothic, Islamic and Romanesque architectural style of the cathedrals, palaces, synagogues and mosques I’d visited, the Modernismo architectural style is one that impressed me the most as it’s conceptual aspect can still be considered in the contemporary art world. The concept of creating art out of scraps is the concept that Modernismo attempts to portray and succeeds. In El Born, Barcelona, the Palau de la Música Catalana is very representative of the Modernist architectural style. Lluís Domènech i Montaner constructed the Palau in 1905, promoted by the “Orfeo Catala” society of individuals seeking to create a unique setting to conduct performances and have other artists come and perform as well (Palau De La Música Catalana n.d.). Like La Sagrada Familia, el Palau celebrated nature through its architectural components. The Palau was created to feel as though one was entering a garden, with the use of ceramic to design flowers and peacock-like features to add an elegant feel to the theater. Similar to the Palau, the Greek Theater in Parc Güell consisted of small pieces of ceramic tiles of all kinds of colors and designs to create the benches we were sitting on.   

Referring back to the question Professor Bailly had asked, I am a Cuban-American. I identify as a Latina because I was raised in a family of Latinos. I may be Spaniard in blood and in history, but I do not identify myself as such because of how estranged I felt walking the streets of Madrid and Barcelona, trying to decipher the dialect and accent of both populations who spoke Spaniard Spanish and Catalan. I know what it’s like to come from “un barrio humilde,” a humble neighborhood, something I didn’t experience in Spain with all of its developed, non-island Modernist, Islamic, Gothic and Romanesque architectural styles. I eat plantains with every meal, not patatas. I add Cuban sofrito to my home cooked beef picadillo and meats. I even add Cuban sofrito to my step when I dance salsa, not flamenco. I am a Catholic, who believes in the Holy Trinity, la Virgen Maria and the saints. I lack a profound devotion to the faith, however, I can proudly say that I am a follower of Jesus but I can humble myself before those who are not. I can respect their faith as they’ve respected mine and I will continue to contribute to the restoration of the damage instilled by the fowl concept of religious superiority. 


Admincuba. “Food in Cuba.” Cuba Candela, 14 May 2021, cubacandela.com/guidebook/food-in-cuba/. 

Alhambra Valparaiso Ocio y Cultura SL. “Alhambra.org.” La Alhambra De Granada, http://www.alhambra.org/en/alhambra-history.html.

Vann, Mick. “A History of Pigs in America.” Food – The Austin Chronicle, 10 Apr. 2009, http://www.austinchronicle.com/food/2009-04-10/764573/. 

“Botín Restaurant: Centennial Restaurant: Guinness World Records.” Español, 14 June 2022, botin.es/en/home/. 

“Landscape of Light. Paseo Del Prado and El Retiro Park.” Madrid Tourisme, http://www.esmadrid.com/en/landscape-light-paseo-prado-and-retiro-park. 

Lomholt, Isabelle. “Atocha Monument Madrid: 11 March Memorial – e-Architect.” e, 15 Dec. 2020, http://www.e-architect.com/madrid/atocha-monument-madrid. 

“Madrid Atocha Train Station – Largest Railway Station in Spain.” Madrid by CIVITATIS, http://www.introducingmadrid.com/atocha-train-station. 

“Madrid Puerta De Atocha Station / Spain.” UIC Communications, uic.org/com/?page=eslider_iframe&id_article=3966. 

“Metrorail: Flashback Miami.” Metrorail | Flashback Miami, 2015, flashbackmiami.com/2015/06/24/metrorail/. 

Miami-Dade County. Glatting Jackson Kercher Anglin, Dec. 2007, http://www.miamidade.gov/parksmasterplan/library/OSMP_FINAL_REPORT_entiredocument.pdf. 

“Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 15 July 2022, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosque%E2%80%93Cathedral_of_C%C3%B3rdoba. 

“Palau De La Música Catalana.” Palau De La Música Catalana in Barcelona, http://www.barcelona.de/en/barcelona-palau-musica-catalana.html. 

Roller, Sarah. “Seville Cathedral.” History Hit, History Hit, 24 Nov. 2020, http://www.historyhit.com/locations/seville-cathedral/. 

Sánchez, Mónica. “Sabatini Gardens: History and Characteristics.” Jardineria On, Jardineria On, 1 Feb. 2021, http://www.jardineriaon.com/en/jardines-de-sabatini.html. 

Toledo, Diego Antonanzas De. “The Retiro Park History and Anecdotes in Madrid.” Madrid and You – Rutas Urbanas, Visitas Guiadas y Experiencias CLON, 23 Sept. 2019, madridandyou.com/en/the-retiro-park-in-madrid/. 

Zaino, Lori. “A Brief History of the Palacio Real.” Culture Trip, The Culture Trip, 10 May 2017, theculturetrip.com/europe/spain/articles/a-brief-history-of-the-palacio-real/. 

Diana Marie Cortada: España as Text 2022

Hey everyone! My name is Diana Cortada and I am currently a senior at FIU majoring in Psychology on a pre-Physician Assistant track. I am on the road to preparing and applying to PA schools this upcoming year. Since the start of my college career, I always felt as though I wanted to have a different college experience. I wanted to eventually join a program through which I could travel, study and meet new individuals who I’d eventually call friends. Although I’d made the attempt to study abroad back in 2020 and the pandemic did it’s finest work at not allowing this to happen, I made a second attempt two years later and I’m finally proud to say it’s been much more successful than the first time around. This is all thanks to Professor Bailly, whose grandiose efforts have pushed us farther into allowing for the fruition of this class and this trip. I’m so excited to see what I’ll learn from this course, from this country and from myself.

Madrid as Text

“The Bridgerton Aesthetic”

By Diana Marie Cortada of FIU in Madrid, Spain on June 9-June 18, 2022.

At first glance, the impression I had from sight seeing the city of Madrid was its immediate resemblance to the images I’d seen on the Netflix series, Bridgerton, which takes place in 1813 London. However, a lot of the architectural aspects and landscapes seemed similar to the historical establishments in Madrid. Being from Miami, I’d made that comparison since I’d never been exposed to a historical site such as a palace or a castle. After attending a guided tour throughout el Palacio Real de Madrid, I was able to adopt a better understanding of the distinctions between the romance series and factual, Spanish royal history.

Built in the 18th century during King Philip V rule, the palace’s outer architectural structure was made of stone base with the addition of an ionic column style and Tuscan pilaster designs (Just Fun Facts, 2019). This style seemed similar to that of Lady Danbury’s estate in the Bridgerton production. I was awestruck by the inside of the palace that consisted of different kinds of fabrics like silk, velvet and Mahogany wood. Walking on the Spanish marble flooring and admiring the art on the high, concave ceilings of each room, I could imagine myself elegantly promenading through each hall in a puff-sleeved pale pink dress. The palace, in contrast to the plot of Bridgerton, was influenced by the religious and artistic aspects of the Spanish royal descent. There were other instances where establishments within Madrid and the series both looked similar like Plaza Mayor and the Hampton Court Palace or the boat riding in El Retiro Park and the boats ridden in Painshill Park on the show.

A lot of the painted murals, portraits and sculptures within the palace strongly represented the role of Catholicism on royalty. Some ceiling murals showed angels from Heaven crowning the king or queen ruling at the time and others showed different peoples in other countries and how they influenced the creation of the country, as shown in the Throne Room of the palace. Each of the 3,418 rooms served its own unique purpose and all held a different pastel colored scheme, most of which ultimately gave me the same feeling: a sense of elegance.


(2019). Interesting facts about the Royal Palace of Madrid: Just fun facts. Just Fun Facts | Fun and interesting site. Retrieved June 13, 2022, from http://justfunfacts.com/interesting-facts-about-the-royal-palace-of-madrid/ 

Toledo as Text

“As We Said Yesterday”

By Diana Marie Cortada of FIU in Toledo, Castilla La Mancha, Spain on June 15, 2022.

It was early afternoon when I felt my calves beginning to give up on me as the incline of the streets felt steeper each step. My fingers moist from the sweat as I glided them across the walls made of brick and stone, a typical North African architectural method used by the Romans to build the city walls of Toledo. I caught myself having difficulty focusing on the direction I was walking since I stared upward, fascinated by all of the beautiful tapestries and flowers hanging from the balconies of buildings in preparation for the celebration of Corpus Christi. I was rightfully corrected by a fellow Toledo resident when assuming that the canopies hanging above our heads were for shade. The canopies were actually a part of the decorative process as a measure of respect. They represented God and the body and blood of Christ. I was amazed by the fact that every part of the city was intentional, and almost always had a purpose to exhibit religious symbolism.

An example of this was the architectural style of the synagogue, Sinagoga Santa Maria la Blanca. Its white minimalistic and simplistic, Moorish architecture was intentionally designed to convey the message that showing off one’s wealth was an insult to the poor, people who were just as rightful to God as rich people. I could feel my mind healing from chaotic thoughts as I walked towards the east side of the church, rightfully so as I was getting closer to the altar, the holy wall, which was perfectly oriented to point towards Jerusalem. However, I felt quite less humbled when I entered the Santa Iglesia Catedral Primada de Toledo, the 13th century gothic cathedral. The building was boisterous. It was almost as though all of the gold, large statues, stained glass windows, pipe organs, and large and tall arches were screaming wealth and desire to be superior. Although it was nothing like I’d ever seen before, it was definitely overwhelming and I could feel this guilt and pressure to have to be submissive to Catholicism when stepping foot into the establishment.

We were told the famous story of the fry cook, a tale that all residents in Toledo knew as a part of their academic curriculum. The fry cook, Luis de Leon, was a man of Jewish origin who was a professor in the University of Castilla La Mancha. He was accused of heresy by a pure Christian, someone envious of his teaching position at the university, and this cost him his entire life. His business, his position, and his family and friends were all stripped away because of the accusation and the man spent 13 years in jail waiting for his trial, which eventually ruled him as innocent. Coming back into the world and getting his life back, the man would say to his students “as we said yesterday” as a way to display his desire to forget what had happened to him, how much time he lost, and continue on with his life. The story impacted me in such a way only because I am someone who usually holds grudges against traumatic experiences. There was definitely a lesson learned from the telling of this story, and what I’d interpreted was that life is too short to stress over things that did not go our way. To let go of the past, good or bad, and to live in the present, continuing to enjoy whatever life we have left here on Earth despite the experiences that deteriorate our innocence, ignorance and happiness.

Cordoba as Text

“No Hay Mal Que Por Bien No Venga”

By Diana Marie Cortada of FIU in Cordoba and Granada, Spain on June 18, 2022 and June 21, 2022.

Walking the narrow, plain white-wall streets of Cordoba, my skin felt relieved from the sun’s radiating heat. It was the shade of the canopies and the moisture projected from the presence of so much greenery and cobblestone that made me feel so refreshed. As we made our way up past the Jewish routes, like those found in Segovia and Toledo, we made it to La Plaza de Triunfo. Here, stood a collection of triunfos, tall columns meant to protect the city, and above them situated was the angel San Rafael of Cordoba. We were told that this angel watched over this city during the COVID-19 pandemic. At this moment, I thought to myself that perhaps San Rafael hovered over my shoulder when I worked in a COVID unit floor in a hospital as a medical-surgical, patient care technician. However traumatizing this experience was for me at the time, it brought me great comfort to believe someone from above was watching over me, making sure I’d come out of that job safely.

Uneasy. That is the word I’d use to describe how I felt when I stepped foot inside the Basilica de San Vicente Martir en Cordoba. I stared silently at the intricate architectural patterns of red brick and white limestone double arches representing God’s complexity. It wasn’t until I could see the transition of these patterns to what looked like another typical cathedral of Spain where I felt like I’d been showered in overwhelming guilt. The cross above the mosque, as though Christians tried to show that their God was above all else, made me feel angry towards those before me who practiced my religion. It was embarrassing almost, like I was in the setting of where it took place but not the time and somehow still felt as though I was. This was because I learned that to this day, humans behaved as though we were still in 1236. The restrictions set on Muslims who desired to pray in the church, which was originally a mosque, are reinforced by security guards asking them to stand from their knees, forbidding Islamic prayer in what was originally their mosque to begin with.

After visiting the Cordoba synagogue and the Basilica, I reflected back on the Stoic teachings of Seneca, the philosopher. He believed that one should avoid complaining and losing time, and try to make the best out of your situation by maintaining a positive attitude. This ideology is one I am very fond of since I tend to look on the brighter side of situations. In Spanish, the people of Cordoba have a saying related to the ideology and it is “no hay mal que por bien no venga,” which is translated to “every cloud has a silver lining” meaning there can be hope in every difficult situation.

Sevilla as Text

“En El Septimo Cielo”

By Diana Marie Cortada of FIU in Sevilla, Spain on June 18- June 22, 2022.

I succumbed to the sound let out by the organs playing while mass took place during our tour of La Catedral de Sevilla. It was in this moment that I carefully observed, in detail, the majestic architectural design of the cathedral. The music gave the stained glass windows more color, it gave the wooden carvings more definition, it made the light peaking through dome roof structures much brighter. The music gave the cathedral life… then three pigeons flew into the building elegantly and soared to the beat of the music. The cathedrals, however grandiose they were, seemed like museums up until now, when I finally felt the presence of God. In absolute awe, I shut my eyes tightly and felt tears racing down my cheek. It was as if I’d integrated myself to the fantasy of being an individual existing in the Middle Ages and all that mattered, in that moment, was God. It was the circular designs of the stained glass window at the end of the church that made me see God for He was infinite. And there I felt Him, so close, me smiling at His comforting presence.

I stared upward at the Giralda, the tower that hovered over the cathedral and immediately, I thought about my family’s journey to the Americas, escaping the tragedy of the communist regime in Cuba. It was the tower’s resemblance to the Freedom Tower in Downtown Miami that reminded me of the appreciation I felt for my family’s sacrifices, which have ultimately led me to my attendance in this program, seeing the city that inspired Coral Gables from the top of the tower. Even further back than this, I could picture my ancestors crossing Torre de Oro, making their way through the perilous Mediterranean sea to Cuba searching for business opportunities. Making a connection to Islam from what I’d learned while touring the Alhambra, my experience in Sevilla made me feel like I was “en el septimo cielo”, in the seventh Heaven. This is in reference to the Islamic belief that Heaven is a pyramid that corresponds to the goodness of the people. In the seventh Heaven, it is said that it is the gate below the throne of God, which is exactly how I felt. Smelling the freshness of its gardens, swimming in its rivers of honey and tasting the sweetness of its fruits.

Barcelona as Text

“Moving Forward”

By Diana Marie Cortada of FIU in Sevilla, Spain on June 23- June 29, 2022.

The taxi ride to Barceloneta beach cured my homesickness. The reason was because the structural and demographic design of all of Barcelona, what was once known as the Roman city Barcino, reminded me so much of home. We were on our way to the Sant Joan Fire Festival when I caught a glimpse at a section of the city that looked exactly like Downtown Miami by the Bayside area. In Miami, this area is where the Freedom Tower is located, and so passing by here reminded me of my Cuban immigrant family and all the stories of Cubans who made it across the border and started their lives in Miami from scratch. I realized soon after that Barcelona’s history related much to that of my Cuban roots. The Catalan flag was actually inspired by the Cuban flag because of Cuba’s independence. Its stripes were only yellow and red in color because of its legendary attribution to the Normans defeat by Wilfred the Hairy who was rewarded with a gold shield by the king. The yellow stripes represent the gold shield while the red stripes represent Wilfred’s blood which the king traced onto the shield to show Wilfred’s courage and bravery during battle. 

Something unique about Barcelona that I thoroughly enjoyed was the amount of representation in the Modernismo style. Modernismo architecture was the way they made historical buildings in today’s day and age. It consists of using industrial items to make it look organic. It could be seen on the streets where 4Cats resided, the restaurant and bar where Picasso had his first exhibition. They were more noticeable around the city as we explored it, however, I was left in awe when entering the Palau de La Musica Catalana, which was built by modernist Lluís Domènech I Montaner in the early 1900s. It was the use of inexpensive modern materials to make the design look like nature, architectural alchemy. The moment the organs played, I closed my eyes and felt like I was once again in the Manuel Artime in Little Havana performing my pointe solo wearing the heaviest, yet most glamorous tutu. In this moment I could see the elegance of the Palau by its intricate mosaics of flowers and peacock designs, and I could feel the presence of the 18 women on stage with me. 

I’d already been exposed to so many cathedrals, that seeing the outside of La Sagrada Familia felt as any other. It wasn’t until I entered the establishment where I was in awe, as I’d entered what looked like a forest. There was much movement in the building, as there was in the Palau, as a result of the modernist style of the building and Gaudi’s touch. This was when I realized that the Basilica was a celebration of Earth as God’s creation. It was heavily ornate with organic and natural elements such as animals, plants and divine entities to show the diversity and stability of God’s creation. It was truly surreal, especially seeing the yellows, oranges, reds, blues and greens allowed in by the stained glass design, of which I consciously made the connection of the color scheme to the nativity facade. It was the constant representation of diversity and modern outlook of the city on culture that I realized Barcelona was moving forward as a society and gaining the cultural independence they longed for. 

Sitges as Text

“Mar i Cel”

By Diana Marie Cortada of FIU in Sitges, Spain on June 26, 2022.

Walking into Maricel, I fell curious to the presence of an egg that laid still above the fountain to the left of the entrance. My eyes pulled me towards the egg due to its odd location. Why was it there? On that particular fountain? Did wild birds reside there? Professor Bailly had informed me that the egg was actually used for the religious celebration of Corpus Christi in Sitges. Astonished by how insignificant the egg seemed and how significant it actually was, I began to think of the architectural components of Maricel, Charles Deering’s home in Sitges. The simplicity of an egg’s pearl matte white shell could be compared to the ceramic brick used to design the architectural style of the outside of the house in respect to the rest of the town’s minimalistic aesthetic. An egg yolk inside an egg shell gives an egg life… it gives an egg significance. Well, the inside architectural design of Maricel and its history gave the establishment life.

Miquel Utrillo, the engineer and artist who built Maricel, left me in awe at the bright reds, blues and greens, amongst other colors, used to illuminate the walls in each room in the building. The Noucentista architectural style was still apparent, even after its debut in 1918. Modern but orderly, and yet still completely different from la Sagrada Familia in Barcelona that adopted the Modernismo architectural style thanks to Gaudi. One of the first founders of the modernist architectural style, Santiago Rusiñol, contributed the the creation of Els Quatre Gats. This was a bar and cafe where many modernist artists, including Gaudi, would meet and also where Pablo Picasso had his first exhibition. In the Museum of Cau Ferrat, just five steps away from Maricel, Deering had five of Picasso’s paintings hanging on the wall of one of the rooms in the museum. I was astonished at the fact that such a small room held such prestigious paintings.

Diana Marie Cortada: Ida España 2022

Ida: Spain’s Influences on Family Structure in the Americas

by Diana Cortada of FIU


This project delves into the many factors that contribute to the Spanish family structure and how these ideologies have been instilled into the lives and minds of individuals in the Americas. The impact of Spain on the structural component of family in the Americas will be examined through a historical, cultural, and psychological lens. This includes the implementation of societal beliefs such as the ideology of an extended family, machismo and the institutionalization of a patriarchal social system beginning at its origin circa 3100 B.C to its influence on our current society. We will also study the psychosocial effects of the ideologies that make up the Spanish family structure on the behaviors of Latinx families and how this contributes to the degradation of the female gender today in the form of pay disparities, laws disregarding the health of women placed by men and the demeaning labels forced onto women by society.

The Patriarchy

Life Before A Male-Dominant Society Circa 3100 B.C.E.

Iroquoian Women Sharing Equal Power by Carol P. Christ
Christ, Carol P. “Iroquoian Women: Power Held and Shared by Carol P. Christ.” Feminismandreligion.com, (2019).feminismandreligion.com/2019/01/21/iroquoian-women-power-held-and-shared-by-carol-p-christ/. 

Before the creation of a patriarchy, societies in mainly Native American communities consisted largely of women dominant families and an overall egalitarian social standing. The Iroquois were a tribe that depicted this kind of family structure before the rise of male-dominance. They originally consisted of a clan system. These communities began to adopt the male-dominant societal structure and the concept that family only consisted of blood relatives in the 19th century as European fur traders and Christian missionaries made their way through the Americas. Even before agriculture and trade became a common practice, which encouraged the idea of male superiority and gender division, male dominant families had been ruled as a natural occurrence because of the biological nature of men being providers, and in a more ancient reference, “hunters.” It was said that women were considered “producers of life” while men were “producers of agriculture and hunting” which was used to argue why women fell to a subordinate position in society and why men were able to seize control of women (Omvedt 1987).

In Native American societies, such as the Iroquois, family’s were mainly female dominant. In matrilineal families, the daughters who married had their husbands move into their families homes and the sons would need to leave their homes to move in with their in laws. The women in these families would receive the most attention and respect, and they were allowed to decide their participation in marriage. Meaning, women were allowed to divorce their husbands, in whichever unconventional manner, before the European settlers colonized their lands. They were also allowed to own or inherit land, participate in politics by electing their chiefs and removing them from power as they pleased, and handled economic issues between clans. Young sons would be given the role of caring for their sisters.

The Origin of Patriarchy

The ideology of a patrilineal society is believed to trace back to Mesopotamia, where men in Sumer began to claim ownership over their children and spouses (Reneejg 2018). Much later, the rise of agriculture, militarism, large cities and the desire to discover and conquer land all played major roles in the development of male dominant societies, but the arrival of European settlers in the land of the Iroquois, alongside other Native tribes, had the largest influence on matrilineal societies. European colonization introduced Native Americans with the concept of a patriarchy. They enforced the legalization of men’s ownership over their wives and everything they owned, from properties to children, and the societal acceptance of marital rape and the abuse of women.

Women’s Societal Roles as Wives in Babylonian Marriage Market by History on The Net “Mesopotamian Women and Their Social Roles” History on the Net
© 2000-2022, Salem Media.
April 21, 2022 <https://www.historyonthenet.com/mesopotamian-women-in-mesopotamian-society&gt;

By 4000 B.C.E the same society in Sumer that was once matrilineal, had now adopted the patriarchy as their societal blueprint. They began to instill marital rules like having the right to name their children over the women that birthed them and their wives’ properties and bodies. Women in patriarchal societies in this time were stripped of their rights to their bodies, their decision making in marriage, their political participation and their dignity, as well as many other rights. Even though women were given the power to handle the food within their communities, they were still objectified by men in this new, male-dominant world and womanhood was almost nonexistent. We can also thank this historical occurrence for today’s “male mentality.” I refer to the “male mentality” as men’s inability to express their emotions properly, using modern day phrases like “boys will be boys” to justify irrational expression of anger and aggression, and the adoption of the idea that men don’t cry and that they should be strong. This societal blue print was also the beginning of the instillment of gender roles in the home as well. Women were placed in positions that consisted of house chores and child care while men were given the tasks of providing for families through hunting, participation in the military, and much later, through jobs.

These concepts were eventually adopted by Europeans who later taught their North and South American colonies after Columbus’ arrival in 1492. Latinx families today, in their home countries and in the United States, still give relevance to these ideologies and continue to raise their children in gender role directed households with little to no development of emotional intelligence or sense of building boundaries.


The Origin of Machoism

Machismo Series: Machismo #3 by Irish Gonzalez Gonzalez, Irisol. “Machismo #3.” Irisolgonzalez, (2020). http://www.irisolgonzalez.com/machismo-3. 

Alongside the ideology of the patriarchy was the spread of machoism. “Machismo” is a Spanish reference defined in the English language as masculinity and its root word, “macho,” means male. Native Americans were indoctrinated with these societal ideologies, to believe that the male was the superior gender and had possession over their women, children, land and much more. However, it is believed that both concepts are a reflection of male insecurity and feelings of inferiority to women. Machismo is known to have traced back to pre-Columbian times (Coronado 2015). It wasn’t until the arrival of the Spanish in what is now Latin America that these ideologies were even more deeply rooted into society. A man who is brave, courageous and relentless is a man who is considered a “machista.” In Latin American societies, machismo has come to represent the male dominance that has been instilled by the patriarchy, continuing to justify the portrayal of femininity as weakness.

Religious Influence on The Patriarchy and Machismo

With the arrival of European settlers in the Americas, also arrived the indoctrination of the cultural and religious beliefs of Christianity. In the Bible it is clearly stated that women should be submissive to men, and because of this God ordained order, women continue to feel dependent of men socially, politically and economically (Prado 2005). The 16th century Spanish Conquest brought a lot of controversy on the male gender identity. The Spanish conquistadors who arrived alongside Hernan Cortes in 1519 fought the Aztecs who were located in what is now Northern Mexico, and won, overthrowing the Aztec Empire. These indigenous peoples of Latin America suffered a loss of their land to the Spaniards because of their military strength and large-bodied physiques. Indigenous males birthed the concept of machismo as they began to practice what are considered more “masculine behaviors” to compensate for their military inferiority and physical disadvantages (Heep 2014).

Converting to Christianity by Viktor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov Mark, Joshua J. “The Medieval Church.” World History Encyclopedia, (2022). http://www.worldhistory.org/Medieval_Church/. 

Catholicism greatly influenced these gender disparities and duality between the roles of men and women. Religion defined femininity as a woman’s biological characteristics and abilities like birthing children, being a nurturer and a provider of emotional support, being the passage for a soul to enter earth side and allowing for the alimentation of this new soul. However, masculinity became defined by culture rather than biology. It no longer mattered if a man had broad shoulders or male genitals, now society decided their masculinity based on their social, political and economic standing. Their masculinity was marginalized to how much land they owned, how many children and wives they had, how aggressive and courageous they could be and how emotionally unintelligent they were.

The book of Genesis in the Bible quoted “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him…”; “To the woman he said, ‘I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you’” (Heep 2014). This statement further justifies a world of male-dominance and the indoctrination of female submissiveness to men in society. The description of Eve’s biological ability to bear children, the woman quoted in the verse, shows even further that femininity was defined by the physical characteristics of a woman. The Catholic Church promoted these restrictions on the rights of women in Latin America and continued to push the societal, cultural and religious agenda that women were inferior to men and their femininity was considered a weakness or a delicacy. This continued the objectification of women, used only for sexually pleasurable activities and bearing their husbands’ children.

Extended Family

Defining An Extended Family Structure

A nuclear family consists of a mother, a father and their children. However, an extended family consists of three generations after the nuclear family. This includes grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles, and cousins. They can either come from a unilineal descendant, meaning family from either the mother or father’s side, or both parents depending on the culture and the relationships of the extended family with their relative. When the concept of family rose in the 15th century, its meaning in English was close to that of a “household.” A family at the time included the blood relatives that lived under one roof along with any other occupants in the house, like servants.

Families in Spain consisted of the extended family structure where relatives outside of the nuclear dynamic spend their time visiting and hosting family events. Some of these can be dinners, lunches, birthdays and other social events to gather their family and spend time together. These same practices are seen in families from South America and the Caribbean, both regions conquered and colonized by Spanish Europeans.

Diana Marie Cortada’s Cuban Extended Family taken by Nilo Cortada (my father) | CC by 4.0

Today, Spanish families’ living arrangements depend on their economic status. Hispanics are very family oriented and they turn to their families as their primary social reference (Specialists in Educational Projects 2018). This signifies that Hispanics are very dependent of their larger families for support and security. Family is a valuable concept for the majority of Hispanics and there is emphasis on the appreciation of extended family. However, economic status has affected Hispanic families in the sense that individuals living in the lower or middle class are more likely to share a home with extended family only because they can receive monetary support to pay for bills or share certain household chores in order to help those that need to work. I see these issues taking place in my own home. I live with my mother, her sister, her cousin and godmother. They are all my aunts, of whom are extended family who help my mother pay the house bills and help with chores around the home when we are absent, going to work or school. It isn’t uncommon for Spanish individuals to stay living in their parents house from the age of 20-30. This is also common in Latin American countries and the Caribbean. In Miami, my hometown, the majority of people my age still live with their parents and it is also because of Miami’s expensive market. Many people our age, completing college degrees or making less than $100,000 a year cannot afford to live on our own in this city, continuing to encourage the commonality of kids living in their parents house until they are close to their 30s and even then.

Delving Into A Psychological Lens

The Psychological Effects of The Patriarchy and Machismo on Family Structure

Male-dominant societies tend to have increased family violence. A study conducted by Curry in 2018 confirmed the detriment of machismo on the family dynamic and challenges the integration of this social ideology on first generation immigrants in the United States today. The results of the study showed that first generation Mexican immigrants demonstrated no adoptions of machismo or familism, and family violence was lower than those presented in past generations (Curry 2018). The concept of machismo deteriorates the mental health of family members. Women feel restricted, helpless, unsupported and abused by the masculine behaviors expressed by their husbands, leading to the development of depressive disorders. Machistas also suffer from major internal insecurities and lack emotional intelligence due to the pressures put on the male gender identity by society. Children can also suffer from this, experiencing their parents marriage as an ownership rather than a partnership, which can cause attachment issues and anxiety disorders.

The Psychological Effects of Extended Family on Family Structure

A study was conducted on the Black Caribbean population to investigate their relationship satisfaction with their extended family and their ability to provide emotional support (Taylor 2012). The results revealed a positive association of the individuals’ satisfactory relation with extended family when depending on them for emotional support. This shows that the concept of extended family is common among Latin American and Caribbean families and it can benefit them mentally by providing individuals with a larger support group. This also increases the reinforcement of important family values and encourages the comfort of knowing that one has others they can trust and depend on, especially when in need. Another study conducted by the same researcher in 2015, showed the effects of the presence of extended family in individuals’ lives and their mental health, specifically with depressive disorders. The results of the study once again revealed that depending on the closeness of the extended family to the individual, the sample population observed showed to have less susceptibility to depressive disorders as they are provided by the family’s emotional support (Taylor 2015). The concept of extended family has not only increased morality and one’s family values but it provides Latino families with a large support group that they can share life with comfortably knowing they can depend on their family.

The Effects of These Ideologies Today

Gender and Pay Disparities

As a result of the patriarchy ideology brought by Spaniards to the Americas, women continue to be objectified to this day and are less respected than men in many aspects. In the working environment, women are given much more challenging tasks than men. However, women get paid 84% of what a man earns in the same occupation (Barroso & Brown 2021). Women still face gender discrimination in the workplace and are often harassed by employees. The patriarchal ideology has brought about this income gap between men and women. It also brought inequality in the aspect of education. Women and minorities were excluded from professional occupations and from an acceptance in certain university institutions, especially in the 1960s. Ivy League schools, like Yale, had placed quotas on the acceptance of women into their prestigious school which restricted them from attending these schools and receiving a higher education (Parker 2015). These gaps brought by a patriarchal society affect the now American family structure because women earning less income have less of an opportunity to support their families on their own if they were to divorce their husbands. The inaccessibility to higher education also led to women remaining in abusive relationships and unsupportive households so that their children are taken care of financially.

Pay Disparity in Gender by Thoka Maer
Miller, Claire Cain. As Women Take over a Male-Dominated Field, the Pay Drops. The New York Times, (2016). http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/20/upshot/as-women-take-over-a-male-dominated-field-the-pay-drops.html. 

Another issue is the way that women’s biology is completely disregarded in this patriarchal work environment. Women who become mothers and birth children only have a maternity leave that lasts only 12 weeks, unpaid, to care for themselves and their newborn children. These disparities and disregards significantly affects the family dynamic and structure of families all over the US. Hispanic families turn to the help of extended family during this time to collectively raise this baby until they are old enough to be put in daycare. This restriction on the time a woman can spend with her child continues to support the idea of femininity as weakness and women have actually gotten denied jobs for their desire to have a family, jobs knowing this will affect their own profit and workplace dynamic with an employee gone for so long.

My Body My Choice

Women’s Rights: My Body My Choice by Alexie Sass
Sass, Alexie. “Sign the Petition.” Change.org, 2019, http://www.change.org/p/georgia-state-house-women-s-rights-my-body-my-choice. 

Women are still experiencing restrictions with their own bodies by white men in power to this day. Forty-eight anti-abortion legislations have passed in 13 states as of March 25, 2022 (Nash et al. 2022). White men in political power are deciding the kinds of restrictions to put on women’s bodies, without considering the biological or scientific aspects behind the dangers of ectopic pregnancies or performing unsafe abortions. The anti-abortion laws being implemented today are just as damaging to gender inequality as the restrictions put on indigenous women by the Catholic Church with the arrival of Spaniards in the Americas. They are the epitome of the teachings of the patriarchy and the idea that men possess women, that women are just sexual objects and their only use is to produce children, and that the male gender is superior to the female gender. The way this affects the family structure in America is that it enforces the traditional nuclear family, however, now women are once again in possession of their abusers, rapists, and must keep their children and attend to them, much like the ideologies of a male-dominant world and the concept of machismo. In a way, it also encourages the concept of the extended family since the rate of single-mother households has increased by 80% and continues to increase (Watson 2021). The many restrictions on education, income and bodily autonomy on women does not allow them to raise families on their own, meaning they must turn to their extended family for help.

Work Cited

Barroso, Amanda, and Anna Brown. “Gender Pay Gap in U.S. Held Steady in 2020.” Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center, (2021). http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/05/25/gender-pay-gap-facts/. 

Christ, Carol P. “Iroquoian Women: Power Held and Shared by Carol P. Christ.” Feminismandreligion.com, (2019). feminismandreligion.com/2019/01/21/iroquoian-women-power-held-and-shared-by-carol-p-christ/. 

Coronado, Juan David. “Machismo.” Obo, (2015). http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199913701/obo-9780199913701-0106.xml.&nbsp;

Curry, Theodore R., et al. “Why is Family Violence Lower among Mexican Immigrants? the Protective Features of Mexican Culture.” Journal of Family Violence, vol. 33, no. 3, 2018, pp. 171-184. ProQuest, https://www.proquest.com/scholarly-journals/why-is-family-violence-lower-among-mexican/docview/1992789927/se-2?accountid=10901, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10896-017-9947-y.

Gonzalez, Irisol. “Machismo #3.” Irisolgonzalez, (2020). http://www.irisolgonzalez.com/machismo-3. 

Heep, Hartmut. “Catholicism and Machismo: the Impact of Religion on Hispanic Gender Identity.” (2014). pdfs.semanticscholar.org/e57c/ad8adb6c421ea2917b6dc19026dfe1b47022.pdf. 

Mark, Joshua J. “The Medieval Church.” World History Encyclopedia, (2022). http://www.worldhistory.org/Medieval_Church/. 

“Mesopotamian Women and Their Social Roles” History on the Net
© 2000-2022, Salem Media.
April 21, 2022 <https://www.historyonthenet.com/mesopotamian-women-in-mesopotamian-society&gt;

Miller, Claire Cain. “As Women Take over a Male-Dominated Field, the Pay Drops.” The New York Times, (2016). http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/20/upshot/as-women-take-over-a-male-dominated-field-the-pay-drops.html. 

Nash, Elizabeth, et al. “2022 State Legislative Sessions: Abortion Bans and Restrictions on Medication Abortion Dominate.” Guttmacher Institute, (2022). http://www.guttmacher.org/article/2022/03/2022-state-legislative-sessions-abortion-bans-and-restrictions-medication-abortion.&nbsp;

Omvedt, Gail. “The Origin of Patriarchy.” Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 22, no. 44 (1987). pp. WS70–72, http://www.jstor.org/stable/4377665.&nbsp;

Parker, Patsy. “The Historical Role of Women in Higher Education.” Administrative Issues Journal: Connecting Education, Practice and Research, vol. 5, no. 1:3-14 (2015). files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1062478.pdf. 

Prado, Luis Antonio, “Patriarchy and machismo: Political, economic and social effects on women” (2005). Theses Digitization Project. 2623.

Reneejg. “The Creation of Patriarchy: How Did It Happen?” Writing by Renee, (2018). http://reneejg.net/2018/12/creation-of-patriarchy/. 

Sass, Alexie. “Sign the Petition.” Change.org, (2019). http://www.change.org/p/georgia-state-house-women-s-rights-my-body-my-choice. 

“Spain and the Importance of Family.” Specialists in Educational Projects, (2018). kens.es/uk/2018/12/04/spain-and-the-importance-of-family/.  

Taylor, Robert J., et al. “Extended Family and Friendship Support Networks are both Protective and Risk Factors for Major Depressive Disorder and Depressive Symptoms among African-Americans and Black Caribbeans.” Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, vol. 203, no. 2 (2015). pp. 132-140. ProQuest, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/NMD.0000000000000249

Taylor, Robert J., et al. “Extended Family Support and Relationship Satisfaction among Married, Cohabiting, and Romantically Involved African Americans and Black Caribbeans.” Journal of African American Studies, vol. 16, no. 3 (2012). pp. 373-389. ProQuest, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12111-011-9205-y.

Watson , Jessica. “US Has Highest Rate of Single-Parent Households in the World.” ParentsTogether. (2021) parents-together.org/us-has-highest-rate-of-single-parent-households-in-the-world/. 

%d bloggers like this: