The Re-mapping of the World

Map of Tenochtitlan and Gulf Coast, 1524. Via; you can find a larger, zoomable version here.

I am not as far along in Alessandra Russo’s fascinating book The Untranslatable Image as I should be, seeing as I have it through inter-library loan and it’s due back next week.  That said, her brief discussion of this map of the just-conquered Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan is, in and of itself, too rich to go unremarked upon.  Even more important for me of late, this map–that is, the circumstances of its making–seems to intersect in a very material way with a much more abstract idea I have been kicking around regarding the Columbus chapter I have been working on: Following Edouard Glissant’s argument in Caribbean Discourse that the land is a central character in and even producer of Caribbean culture, I want to make the argument that it’s the land’s resistance to being read as Columbus would have it read that invalidates the Europeans’ invention and adoption of the term New World yet also allows the new peoples of this hemisphere to re-appropriate that same term to describe this space, and even set about re-ordering the Old World’s perception of itself relative to the rest of the planet. This will have to get worked out elsewhere, alas. In the meantime, though, here are some thoughts on Russo’s discussion of the making of this map: Continue reading