The “Faro a Colón,” or “Columbus Lighthouse,” is perhaps the largest memorial to Christopher Columbus in the world. Inaugurated in 1992 as a celebration of the five-hundredth anniversary of Columbus’s first arrival in the Americas, it is visible throughout much of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. This article argues that the typical presentation of the monument is badly misaligned with the historical record, but that a historically and historiographically informed interpretation can lead to a truer understanding of the violence and greed of colonization. Contrary to what its designers wanted to show about Columbus, and in some ways in spite of itself, the Columbus Lighthouse conveys with unusual clarity the problems of memorializing one of the most (in)famous figures in world history.
The Faro a Colón in Santo Domingo: Reinterpreting a “More Nearly Perfect” Memorial to Christopher Columbus
Mairi Cowan is an Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, in the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Toronto Mississauga. She is a historian of the late medieval and early modern world, with specializations in the social and religious histories of Europe and North America.
Christoph Richter is an Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, in the Department of Biology at the University of Toronto Mississauga. He studies the impacts of human activities on mammals in marine and urban environments.
The authors have taken groups of students to the Faro a Colón as part of a study abroad trip in their course on the history and ecology of the Columbian Exchange.
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Mairi Cowan, Christoph Richter; The Faro a Colón in Santo Domingo: Reinterpreting a “More Nearly Perfect” Memorial to Christopher Columbus. The Public Historian 1 May 2021; 43 (2): 63–80. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2021.43.2.63
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