Tropicality is a centuries-old Western discourse that treats otherness and the exotic in binary – ‘us’ and ‘them’ – terms. It has long been implicated in empire and its anxieties over difference. However, little attention has been paid to its twentieth-century genealogy.
This book explores this neglected history through the work of Pierre Gourou, one of the century’s foremost purveyors of what anti-colonial writer Aimé Césaire dubbed tropicalité. It explores how Gourou’s interpretations of ‘the nature’ of the tropical world, and its innate difference from the temperate world, were built on the shifting sands of twentieth-century history – empire and freedom, modernity and disenchantment, war and revolution, culture and civilisation, and race and development. The book addresses key questions about the location and power of knowledge by focusing on Gourou’s cultivation of the tropics as a romanticised, networked and affective domain. The book probes what Césaire described as Gourou’s ‘impure and worldly geography’ as a way of opening up interdisciplinary questions of geography, ontology, epistemology, experience and materiality.
This book will be of great interest to scholars and students within historical geography, history, postcolonial studies, cultural studies and international relations.
Table of Contents
1. The tropics and the colonising gaze 2. Tropicalising Indochina 3. Romancing the tropics 4. Networking the tropics 5. Gourou en guerre 6. Affecting the tropics 7. Gourou’s ‘colonial situations’ 8. Fin de la tropicalité (as we knew it)?
About the Series
Studies in Historical Geography
Historical geography has consistently been at the cutting edge of scholarship and research in human geography for the last fifty years. The first generation of its practitioners, led by Clifford Darby, Carl Sauer and Vidal de la Blache presented diligent archival studies of patterns of agriculture, industry and the region through time and space. Drawing on this work, but transcending it in terms of theoretical scope and substantive concerns, historical geography has long since developed into a highly interdisciplinary field seeking to fuse the study of space and time. In doing so, it provides new perspectives and insights into fundamental issues across both the humanities and social sciences. Having radically altered and expanded its conception of the theoretical underpinnings, data sources and styles of writing through which it can practice its craft over the past twenty years, historical geography is now a pluralistic, vibrant and interdisciplinary field of scholarship. In particular, two important trends can be discerned. First, there has been a major 'cultural turn' in historical geography which has led to a concern with representation as driving historical-geographical consciousness, leading scholars to a concern with text, interpretation and discourse rather than the more materialist concerns of their predecessors. Secondly, there has been a development of interdisciplinary scholarship, leading to fruitful dialogues with historians of science, art historians and literary scholars in particular which has revitalised the history of geographical thought as a realm of inquiry in historical geography. Studies in Historical Geography aims to provide a forum for the publication of scholarly work which encapsulates and furthers these developments. Aiming to attract an interdisciplinary and international authorship and audience, Studies in Historical Geography will publish theoretical, historiographical and substantive contributions meshing time, space and society.
BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
- SCIENCE / Earth Sciences / Geography