History professor recipient of Fulbright Fellowship to Bogotá, Colombia
Professor Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra has received a Fulbright Fellowship to teach a seminar on his new research on the "Bible and Colonization of the New World" at Universidad de los Andes this summer.
Posted: May 7, 2010
Prof. Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra
However, it is only the first stop in a series. From the Andes, he will travel to Australia and Tasmania to give lectures before concluding this excursion for research and teaching in New England. In the fall, Cañizares-Esguerra will be the Senior Mellon Fellow at the John Carter Brown Library, Brown University.
"My research seeks to show that the category of the 'Renaissance', as a revival of the Greek and Roman classics, obscures rather than illuminates what actually transpired in the European expansion to the tropics," Cañizares-Esguerra said. "It was the Old Testament rather than the classics that framed most debates on the colonization and settlement of the New World.
"In Protestant and Catholic colonial societies, from Columbus’s arrival to the Wars of Independence, the literate and the illiterate, elites and commoners, slaves and masters, Native Americans and Creoles were all creatively engaged with the Bible. Columbus himself perused the Bible and wrote a Book of Prophecies, identifying passages that prefigured his own providential mission in the New World.
"Columbus liked to call attention to the prefigurative symbolism of his own name, for 'Colomba' in Latin means dove (Holy Spirit) and 'Christopher,' Christum-ferens, carrier of Christ. To see Columbus as a self-serving biblical scholar is jarring but much closer to the truth than to consider him as the swashbuckling, romantic adventurer.
"The Bible hovers over every development in the colonial New World like a ghost. Cities, churches, missions, labor institutions, treatises with Amerindian societies, and even constitutions were created with the Bible always in mind. I seek to study the Biblical roots of the religious and political traditions, architecture and material culture of the various Americas of our forgotten colonial past: Dutch, British, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Indian, and African," Cañizares-Esguerra concluded.
We're waiting with anticipation for the culmination of this research.