The Imperfect Equator

Peter Redfield

in Space in the Tropics

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2000 | ISBN: 9780520219847
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520923423 | DOI:
The Imperfect Equator

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This chapter highlights various issues, such as colonial technology, the figure of Robinson Crusoe, and the importance of margins. Reading Crusoe against Hegel's master and slave, the significance of a working, mobile master can be seen. Comparing moments of empire and global experimentation, it is easy to identify both a proliferating impurity of categories and a continuing heritage of technological imbalance. The technical spaces and natural places at the edge of things provide testing grounds, room for mistakes, leftovers, and visions of the past and future; they thus give reflective sites from which to glimpse the imperfect present. The chapter suggests that one such site lies at a juncture of the Caribbean and the Amazon, along a natural horizon of technology. Where space and the tropics meet, between the foot of a launch tower and the ruins of a cell, holds alternate legacies of Crusoe's bold adventure. The impressions are both simultaneous and startling, and they lead in quite opposite directions, such as associations with nature, the uninhabited, and the wild, on the one hand, and with technology, the controlled, and the civilized, on the other.

Keywords: imperfect equator; Robinson Crusoe; technology; nature; master and slave; technological imbalance

Chapter.  6954 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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