Illustrated by more than six hundred plates and comprising twenty-seven volumes published over a span of nearly half a century by Theodor de Bry and his family from 1590 to 1634, the India Occidentales and India Orientalis series comprise a collection of European travels to the rest of the world that has offered a goldmine to scholars seeking material for the study of Europe's attitudes toward foreign others. Only quite recently, however, has any study been devoted to the compilations' complicated history as a book in and of itself. Yet the India Occidentales or America was probably the single most important influence on European thinking about the Americas at the dawn of the seventeenth century. This special issue explores two fundamental questions about the collection as a very influential whole. First, the essays look at how the volumes on the voyages to the West have influenced European perceptions of the voyages to the East. Secondly, the essays examine the impact that the visualizations for which the collection was so famous had on other texts of the period, specifically on how racial difference was registered in terms of skin color, clothing,and writing itself. The essays keep the focus on De Bry's volumes as they form part of a series that builds a sense of the entire world from the point of view of its northern European readership. In this way, the essays underscore the global effect of the collection, a positioning of northern Europe not merely with respect to the New World but also to the entire globe.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
This content is made freely available by the publisher. It may not be redistributed or altered. All rights reserved.