Description - Amerindian Images and the Legacy of Columbus by Nicholas Spadaccini
Few tales in the history of the world are more familiar than the story of Columbus, the fabled Admiral of the Ocean Sea, the prisoner of his dreams, who sailed West in search of the fabulous riches of Cathay or Cipangu, only to stumble upon America, a mass of then "unknown" land. Hailed for centuries as a "hero" who brought "progress" to humankind, this image has recently been stripped of its lustre. The legacy of Columbus' discovery of the New World and its subsequent colonization is a current focus of much historical investigation. Columbus himself continues to be a cipher, like the signature he crafted for himself, a signature no one has been able to decode. What is certain, however, is that this signature symbolized the construction of a colonial imagery that is still operative and that the consequences of the violent encounter and contact of different civilizations (European and Amerindian) are currently being reinterpreted and debated. "Amerindian Images and the Legacy of Columbus" examines the constitution of an Amerindian world born of resistance against European cultural imperialism.
The essays in this volume by literary critics, linguists, semioticians, and historians argue that in the long run the images constructed by the Amerindians to confront the consequences of their encounter with a European cultural apparatus will ensure the endurance of their own culture, that they modified rather than renounced their own imaginary to integrate the material ramifications of their conquest and Westernization. The essays show that the Amerindians in effect became their own Others; that to study the emergence of these images is to watch the Other emerge from the Amerindian Self; that Amerindians have understood and accepted the substantial alternity of the Other; and that in the process, they have realized the impossibility of absolute assimilation.
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University of Minnesota Press
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