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CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture


In "Globalization and Christopher Columbus in the Americas," Elise Bartosik-Vélez considers the responses of scholars working in colonial and early modern studies to recent exponential increases in the transnationalization of capital and the resulting changes in the role of the nation-state. The case of Christopher Columbus and his appropriation by US-American nationalists during the early modern period is particularly instructive with regard to this discussion because Columbus exemplifies not only the drive to globalization of early modern European colonialism, but also the limits of nation-centric thinking in understanding the intersections and overlappings between empire and nation. Columbus in the Americas became a symbol of both empire and the nation and the manner in which he was appropriated by nationalists reveals the contours of the relationship between empire and nation in the early modern period. Positioning Columbus as a transnational figure and analyzing how he is deployed in nationalist rhetoric calls into question the primacy of the nation in academic work and leads to a skepticism similar to that which has motivated recent challenges to dominant criollo nationalist narratives in Latin America.


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