Imagine carrying a gargantuan landmass, capped by glaciers, across your shoulders, the way people pose with reptiles at Coney Island. “Americas” is an impossible wonder to take on. This heavy expanse of a sign has the tendency to weigh down even the most ebullient. It means nothing and everything. America is named and narrated after the Florentine navigator Amerigo Vespucci—a figure whose unverifiable itineraries continue to stump historians across the centuries (Lush, date unknown; Arciniegas 2002; de las Casas 2010). Although he was not the first to encounter all that lay west of Europe, nor are his voyages fully substantiated or substantiatable, the ancient continents were made his attribute by the German cartographer Martin Waldseemuller, who imposed it on his 1507 in utero rendering of the world, the Universalis Cosmographia (Hébert 2003). The naming, a grandest of prizes given to this grandest instance of fronting, carries in it a mystifying credit, a grotesque trophy, a cartographer’s stamp. Americas has tried hard to shorthand and eradicate vast and dynamic Indigenous conceptions of space and time. As a catch-all, it supports a lazy and willful forgetting of Tawantinsuyu (Quechua for the four regions of the Inca Empire) and Anáhuac (Nahuatl for the...

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