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The Book: A Voyage Long and Strange - Essay Example

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Invariably, history is written by the conqueror. This is very much the case with regards to the way in which the New World had its history written and a general understanding of events and historical incidents came to be appreciated throughout the world. Only recently has a fundamental requisitioning of the historical narrative been attempted…
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The Book: A Voyage Long and Strange
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Download file to see previous pages For instance, it is oftentimes heard or repeated that Columbus discovered the New World. One of the most salient quotes from the text book is as follows: “Columbus did not exactly discover the New World, he just discovered that it was profitable” (Horwitz 48). In such a way, the following brief analysis will seek to consider the means by which history is interpreted within the current paradigm and allow for a level of discussion with regards to what the term discovery actually means, the ethnocentrism that is implicit within the belief that Columbus discovered the New World, and what defines “profit” as Horowitz describes it. Firstly, it must be understood that “discovery” is a term that cannot appropriately apply to the voyage of Columbus. This is due to the fact that there were in fact already settlements, and indeed civilization of Native Americans that predated Columbus arrival to the New World by many thousands of years. Moreover, recent archeology has revealed the fact that Icelandic/Norse Vikings had landed in parts of Canada predating Columbus by several hundred years. As such, even the secondary claim of being the first European to set foot in the Americas is wrested from Columbus. More importantly, the belief that Columbus was the first to “discover” the New World necessarily engages the reader with an understanding that European discovery somehow counts more in the grand scheme of things than would discovery and settlement by the Native Americans; thereby giving a markedly ethnocentric view of the “rediscovery” of the New World. A further and perhaps even stronger argument can be made with respect to Horowitz understanding of the fact that Columbus was the first individual to “profit” from the discovery of the New World. One could quite easily take the Devil’s advocacy of stating that it was quite clear that the Native Americans were profiting from the discovery that they made several thousand years prior to Columbus. When one considers the civilizations and trade that the Aztecs, Incas or Mayans had, it is difficult to consider these magnificently wealthy and powerful/dynamic American civilizations/empires without understanding that the individuals within their confines had benefited and “profited” greatly from the discovery that their forbearers had made many centuries before. This is of course a marked differential with respect to the belief that Columbus was somehow the first individual to discover and “profit” from the New World. Perhaps a more realistic and relevant statement would be something along the lines of the fact that Columbus was the first known European to profit from the “discovery” of the New World. Yet, without dispelling the above statement with regards to Columbus, it is necessary to question how he, and by extension many of the European powers profited from the “discovery” rediscovery of the New World. Whereas it was expected that gold and silver plundered from the New World would be the backbone for how Europe would benefit from this interaction, it was in fact the trade that developed between the two, the exploitation, the agriculture, and the introduction of new land, control, and raw materials that allowed for the respective European monarchies, and by extension their people, to benefit from such a discovery. Not even 100 years after such a discovery was made, Europeans had moved into many ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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