For centuries, historians have narrated the arrival of Europeans using terminology (discovery, invasion, conquest, and colonization) that emphasizes their agency and disempowers that of Native Americans. This book explores firsting, a discourse that privileges European and settler-colonial presence, movements, knowledges, and experiences as a technology of colonization in the early modern Atlantic world, 1492-1900. It exposes how textual culture has ensured that Euro-settlers dominate Native Americans, while detailing misrepresentations of Indigenous peoples as unmodern and proposing how the western world can be un-firsted in scholarship on this time and place.

chapter |22 pages


Firsting and the Architecture of Decolonizing Scholarship on the Early-Modern Atlantic World
ByLauren Beck

part Part I|74 pages

The Foundations for Firsting in Historiography and Literature

chapter 2|14 pages

The Last of the First? Madness and the Jungle in the Chronicles of the Indies

Lope de Aguirre and His Writing
ByManuel Lucena Giraldo

chapter 3|15 pages

Dying in Their Own Minds

Firsting and Lasting in the Early Jesuit Work With the Tupi Language in Brazil
ByVivien Kogut Lessa de Sá

chapter 4|18 pages

Literacy and Colonial Beginnings

Inca Garcilaso’s Story of the Letter in Context
ByJulián Díez Torres

part Part II|74 pages

Modernity and Unfamiliarity as Firsting Principles

chapter 5|16 pages

The Grammar of Inanimacy

Frances Brooke and the Production of North American Settler States
ByRachel Bryant

chapter 6|16 pages

Firsting and Lasting in the History of Science

Francisco José de Caldas and the Priority Dispute Over Hypsometry
ByJorge M. Escobar

chapter 7|17 pages

History and Progress

Regional Identity and the Useable Past in Nova Scotia, 1857–1877
ByNicolas Haisell

chapter 8|23 pages

The Afterlife of Settler-Colonial Occupation

Archaeological Excavation as Militarization in the United States-Mexico Borderlands
ByClaire Urbanski

part Part III|86 pages

Un-Firsting the West

chapter 9|20 pages

American Indian Discovery

ByJonathan DeCoster

chapter 10|25 pages

Unsettling Spanish Atlantic History

Experiences of the Colonized Through Visual and Material Culture
ByLauren Beck

chapter 11|23 pages

“This Is an Indigenous City”

Un-Firsting Early Representations of Vancouver
ByAshley Caranto Morford