In this fascinating book, Evelina Guzauskyte 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. Guzauskyte challenges the common tion 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 kwledge and mapping practices of the Tai 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 Guzauskyte'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.
Evelina Guzauskyte is an associate professor in the Spanish Department at Wellesley College.