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The Darker Side of the Renaissance

Literacy, Territoriality, & Colonization, 2nd Edition

Subjects: History, American History, Latin American Studies
Paperback : 9780472089314, 488 pages, 121 B&W photographs and line drawings, 13 tables, 5 maps, 6.125 x 9.25, October 2003
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An exploration of the role of the book, the map, and the European concept of literacy in the conquest of the New World

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Preface     vii

Introduction On Describing Ourselves Describing Ourselves: Comparatism, Differences, and Pluritopic Hermeneutics     1


Chapter 1. Nebrija in the New World: Renaissance Philosophy of Language and the Spread of Western Literacy     29

Chapter 2. The Materiality of Reading and Writing Cultures: The Chain of Sounds, Graphic Signs, and Sign Carriers     69


Chapter 3. Record Keeping without Letters and Writing Histories of People without History     125

Chapter 4. Genres as Social Practices: Histories, Enkyclopaideias, and the Limits of Knowledge and Understanding     171


Chapter 5. The Movable Center: Ethnicity, Geometric Projections, and Coexisting Territorialities     219

Chapter 6. Putting the Americas on the Map: Cartography and the Colonization of Space     259

Afterword On Modernity, Colonization, and the Rise of Occidentalism     315

Notes     335

Bibliography     385

Index     415

Second Thoughts on The Darker Side of the Renaissance: Afterword to the Second Edition     427


The Darker Side of the Renaissance weaves together literature, semiotics, history, historiography, cartography, and cultural theory to examine the role of language in the colonization of the New World. Exploring the many connections among writing, social organization, and political control, including how alphabetic writing is linked with the exercise of power, Walter D. Mignolo claims that European forms of literacy were at the heart of New World colonization. It has long been acknowledged that Amerindians were at a disadvantage in facing European invaders because native cultures did not employ the same kind of texts (hence "knowledge") that the Europeans valued. Yet no one but Mignolo has so thoroughly examined either the process or the implications of conquest and destruction through language. The book continues to challenge commonplace understandings of New World history and to stimulate new colonial and postcolonial scholarship.
Walter D. Mignolo is Professor in the Department of Romance Studies and the Program in Literature, Duke University.

Walter D. Mignolo is William H. Wannamaker Professor of Literature, Cultural Anthropology and Romance Studies and Director of the Center for Global Studies and the Humanities at Duke University.