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In this fascinating book, Evelina Gužauskyte uses the names Columbus gave to places in the Caribbean Basin as a way to examine the complex encounter between Europeans and the native inhabitants.
Gužauskyte challenges the common notion that Columbus’s acts of naming were merely an imperial attempt to impose his will on the terrain. Instead, she argues that they were the result of the collisions between several distinct worlds, including the real and mythical geography of the Old World, Portuguese and Catalan naming traditions, and the knowledge and mapping practices of the Taino inhabitants of the Caribbean. Rather than reflecting the Spanish desire for an orderly empire, Columbus’s collection of place names was fractured and fragmented – the product of the explorer’s dynamic relationship with the inhabitants, nature, and geography of the Caribbean Basin.
To complement Gužauskyte’s argument, the book also features the first comprehensive list of the more than two hundred Columbian place names that are documented in his diarios and other contemporary sources.