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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Cardinal directions: Africa's shifting place in early modern European conceptions of the world
Author:Launay, RobertISNI
Year:2010
Periodical:Cahiers d'études africaines (ISSN 0008-0055)
Volume:50
Issue:198-200
Pages:455-470
Language:English
Geographic terms:world
Africa
Europe
Subjects:images
epistemology
stereotypes
Abstract:Analyses of early modern European representations of Africa have sought to pinpoint the origins of European racism rather than to understand such representations in their own context. In fact, depictions of Africa and Africans were often an epiphenomenon of European understandings of their own place within the world as a whole. In the sixteenth century, the predominant schema was a variant of Hippocratic theories of humors and climates. Regions of the world were classified in terms of a North/South axis corresponding to cold and hot climates, with Africa unambiguously relegated to the hot zone. The eighteenth century saw the elaboration of an alternative focus on the East/West axis, in terms of a contrast between Asian empires (if not 'despotism') and American 'savagery'. Africa's place within this scheme was fundamentally ambivalent, allowing representations of Africans either as 'savages' or as quasi-Asians. Bibliogr., ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract]
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