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The Division of the World: On Archives, Empires and the Vanity of Borders
by Martin Zimmermann and Ursula Schulz-Dornburg
translated by Henry Heitmann-Gordon
Haus Publishing, 2021
Paper: 978-1-913368-11-1 | eISBN: 978-1-913368-10-4

A photographer and a historian explore a vast archive of Spanish colonial history.

At a time when Western nations are being urged to confront their colonial past, this book examines a major archive, revealing the scale of the Spanish colonial enterprise in South and Central America.
Established in 1785, the Archivo General de Indias in Seville holds roughly three hundred years of Spanish colonial history in the Americas. It houses 8,000 charts and around ninety million documents—among them Christopher Columbus’s logbook and the famous Treaty of Tordesillas which, mediated by the Pope and signed in 1494, entitled the Spanish and Portuguese kings to divide the world between them. With this treaty as a starting point, the historian Martin Zimmermann journeys into the age of discovery and recounts stories of dangerous passages, encounters with the unknown, colonial brutality, and the power of cartographers, illustrating the insatiable lust of colonialists to conquer, exploit, and own the world. Ursula Schulz-Dornburg’s photographs show the archive before its redevelopment in 2002, offering a unique view into one of Europe’s most significant archives.

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