L’invention des continents of Grataloup, how the centre invents its periphery
Christian Grataloup, 2009, L’invention des continent, Comment l’Europe a découpé le Monde, Larousse.
Christian Grataloup writes with passion: his scientific books are as great to read as poetry or beautiful prose, and the L’invention des continents is no exception: it is a journey to discover how Europe has made the actual “parts” of the world, that is, continents, and how, by this act, Europe has given herself the place of a “centre” in our Planet, geographically and historically.
The book shows how “continents” have nothing natural: they are but all constructions and mere creations of humans who claimed to “discover” them. Grataloup demonstrates how the notion of “continent” is a trial to find a natural explanation of a politically-constructed divison of the world. His analyses stem from maps, works of art and political and religious documents. We can understand, after the reading of L’invention des continent why Europe is usually in the centre of the maps which seem “natural” to us stem from a long processus of conceptions, perceptions and misconceptions on our world.
In this book Europe has invented the world as it is: she has put herself in the middle, that is, in the centre of what she herself constructed. Grataloup says that “Il est indispensable de décentrer notre regard” in an interview he gave on the book. He belongs to the school of geohistory, géohistoire, the diachronic study of geographical space and in the terms analysed by Fernand Braudel in his long career as one of France’s most prominent historians.
This book is a considerable scientific value, and is a pleasure to read, a work of art written in words.
For more information you ca find the very interesting Sciences Humaines interview with Christian Grataloup on the politically-constructed divisions of the world, URL: http://www.scienceshumaines.com/l-invention-des-continents-rencontre-avec-christian-grataloup_fr_24823.html
You can also see some other articles of this site on the same topic, how the division of the world is made:
Hereford Map, Jerusalem again as centre and the Translatio Imperii
Chinese centralities: the centre, the connector and the Doctrine of the Mean
Matteo Ricci’s map and the centre around China