The myth of the continents: A critique of metageography- Martin W. Lewis and Kären E. Wigen’ summary

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The myth of the continents: A critique of metageography- Martin W. Lewis and Kären E. Wigen’

In trying to summarize this piece of writing, I have tried to talk about what stood out to me, all quotations used for emphasis are from The myth of the continents: A critique of metageography (University of California Press: 1997).

The very first thing we are taught about how the world is divided- before classifying it as first, second and third world or even simply North, East, West and South- is that it is divided into different continents. These different continents are then associated with different problems, cultures, and histories amoung other things. This then makes it possible for people from different continents to be distinctive groups of people as Europeans, Africans etc.

The basis of this continental separation, however, is not always easy to understand since they are not always based on “continental divisions”. “The Isthmus of Panama, separating North from South America, is of little importance for either social history or the animal and plant kingdoms”, In the case of Africa it would be more effective to consider it as the south of the Sahara dessert rather than the south of the Mediterranean Sea. And between Europe and Asia there really is no viable separation. We can only understand these separations “by discarding the commonplace notion that continents denote significant biological or cultural groupings”

Continents often lead people to make false conclusions about how well off people are in certain countries based on what ‘region’ they are in. Especially when we start looking at entire regions- and not specific countries- as first, second and third world. This puts poor countries such as Portugal and Greece in what is considered first world regions while countries with a relatively high economic activity such as Singapore and South Korea are considered third world countries. “Greece and Portugal lie within Europe and since Europe is a...
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