Critiquing Columbus with the Vinland sagas
in From Iceland to the Americas
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The reputation of Christopher Columbus has fluctuated over the centuries, with writers sometimes treating him as a hero, and at other times emphasising his crimes against the Arawaks and his legacy of genocide against other indigenous peoples of North and South America. Some of these critics note that the title of ‘Discoverer’ serves to diminish the history of indigenous people and to justify their continued exploitation. Occasionally, critics have attacked the notion of Columbus as ‘Discoverer’ by pointing to the earlier Norse voyages. This chapter analyses works of popular history written since the excavations at L’Anse aux Meadows and argues that using the Norse voyages in this way tends to reproduce Eurocentric assumptions but can also serve as a helpful occasion to imagine pro-indigenous alternatives to European conquest.

From Iceland to the Americas

Vinland and historical imagination

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