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Space in the TropicsFrom Convicts to Rockets in French Guiana$
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Peter Redfield

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780520219847

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520219847.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 30 June 2022

The Imperfect Equator

The Imperfect Equator

(p.245) CHAPTER 9 The Imperfect Equator
Space in the Tropics

Peter Redfield

University of California Press

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

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