Making Waves on the Historicised Atlantic

Julia McClure


This article suggests that in many historical narratives 1492 represents a rupture in space and time, and that this rupture sustains the historicist mythology of modernity. Within these narratives the significance of 1492 is inflated to become the point of origin for the start of a ‘New World’, a ‘global’ world of ‘modernity’, capitalism, and coloniality. This historical narrative is not neutral, but has become hegemonic while all alternative narratives are suppressed. This article introduces the case-study of the ‘translocal’ Franciscans as an example of an alternative Atlantic world narrative that can challenge the historicist narrative that has dominated the structure of Atlantic world history. Within the Franciscan Atlantic narrative, 1492 becomes a point of continuity as their translocal network extended from the Canary Islands to Hispaniola and mainland America at the end of the fifteenth and beginning of the sixteenth century. The Franciscans offered a significant example of an alternative narrative not simply due to their presence in the Atlantic in this important period, but because they were characterised by their philosophy of poverty rather than capitalism. They suggest an alternative structure for transatlantic histories.

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