Homo Viator: Knowledge of the Earth and Theory of the World in the Age of the First Transatlantic Voyages



Geography, the writing of the earth and the seas, is also inextricably human geography, a form of relating to our living-on-the-earth in which the physical and the cultural are not so easily disjoined, and where the politics of place plays a determining role. This paper examines how the travelers (explorers mostly) motivated their yearning for unknown lands (terra incognita), acted on that impulse, finally saw, recorded and reported objects and facts about the unknown as primary information that needed to be translated into usable knowledge to be circulated in various communities. This process required not just challenging established modes of knowing, but rethinking how humans theorize about the “world/s” that is/are built upon the earth. It required a paradigm shift that would have epochal consequences. The haunting conclusion is that perhaps humanity is, in some deep ontological sense, characterized by the language devised to explain these contingent encounters of roaming beings.

Bibliographia Minima

  1. Abu-Lughod, Janet L. 1989. Before European Hegemony: The World-System A.D. 1250–1350. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Agnew, John, David N. Livingstone, and Alisdair Rogers (eds.). 1996. Human Geography: An Essential Anthology. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  3. Allen, Rosamund (ed.). 2004. Eastward Bound: Travel and Travellers, 1050–1550. New York: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Antonsich, Marco, Vladimir Kolossov, and M. Paola Pagnini (eds.). 2001. Europe Between Political Geography and Geopolitcs [On the Centenary of Ratzel’s Politische Geographie]. Roma: Società Geografica Italiana.Google Scholar
  5. Boyle, David. 2008. Toward the Setting Sun: Columbus, Cabot, Vespucci, and the Race for America. New York: Walker.Google Scholar
  6. Broome, Rodney. 2001. Terra Incognita: The True Story of How America Got Its Name. New York: Open Library and MJF. Google Scholar
  7. Carravetta, Peter. 2009. “Terrestrial Globe,” on the 1532 Ulpius Globe. In Dutch New York Between East and West: The World of Margrieta van Varick, ed. D.B. Krohn, P.N. Miller, and M. De Filippis, 124–136. New York: Bard Graduate Center.Google Scholar
  8. ———. 2012. The Elusive Hermes: Method, Discourse, Interpreting. Aurora, CO: Davies Group.Google Scholar
  9. ———. 2017. After Identity: Migration, Critique, Italian American Culture. New York: Bordighera.Google Scholar
  10. Cloke, Paul, Philip Crang, and Mark Goodwin (eds.). 2013. Introducing Human Geographies, 2nd ed. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. Columbus, Christopher. 1992. The Four Voyages. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  12. Crease, Robert. 2011. The World in the Balance: The Historic Quest for an Absolute System of Measurement. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  13. Cunliffe, Barry. 2002. The Extraordinary Voyage of Pytheas the Greek. New York: Walker.Google Scholar
  14. Foucault, Michel. 1994. The Order of Things. New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
  15. Gale, Stephen, and Gunnar Olsson (eds.). 1979. Philosophy in Geography. London: Reidel.Google Scholar
  16. Galeano, Eduardo. 2003. Las venas abierta de America Latina. Madrid: siglo veintuno.Google Scholar
  17. Golledge, Reginald G. 1979. Reality, Process, and the Dialectical Relation Between Man and Environment. In Philosophy in Geography, ed. Gale and Olsson, 109–120. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  18. Hakluyt, Richard. 1972. Voyages and Discoveries. Baltimore: Penguin.Google Scholar
  19. Jara, René, and Nicholas Spadaccini (eds.). 1993. 1492–1992: Re/Discovering Colonial Writing. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  20. Johnson, R.J. 1996. Paradigms and Revolution or Evolution? In Human Geography, ed. Agnew, 37–53. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  21. Lattimore, Owen, and Eleanor (eds.). 1968. Silks, Spices and Empire. New York: Delacorte Press.Google Scholar
  22. Ley, Charles D. (ed.). 2000. Portuguese Voyages 1498–1663. London: Phoenix Press.Google Scholar
  23. Mancall, Peter C. 2006. Travel Narratives from the Age of Discovery. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Marchand, B. 1979. Dialectics and Geography. In Philosophy in Geography, ed. Gale and Olsson, 237–267. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  25. McNeill, William. 1980. The Human Condition: An Ecological and Historical View. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  26. ———. 1985. Polyethnicity and National Unity in World History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  27. Mendoza, Josefina G., Julio Munoz Jiménez, and Nicolás Ortega Cantero (eds.). 1994. El pensamiento geografico. Madrid: Alianza Universidad.Google Scholar
  28. Morison, Samuel Eliot. 1974. The European Discovery of America. The Southern Voyages 1492–1616. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Pagden, Anthony. 1993. European Encounters with the New World. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  30. ———. 2003. Peoples and Empires. New York: Harcourt.Google Scholar
  31. Pigafetta, Antonio. 1995. The First Voyage Around the World: An Account of Magellan’s Expedition, ed. T.J. Cachey Jr. New York: Marsilio.Google Scholar
  32. Rubiés, Joan-Pau. 2007. Travellers and Cosmographers: Studies in the History of Early Modern Travel and Ethnology. Burlington: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  33. Taviani, Paolo E. 2000. Christopher Columbus, 3 vols. Roma: Italian Geographical Society.Google Scholar
  34. Todorov, Tzvetan. 1985. The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other. New York: HarperCollins.Google Scholar
  35. Tuan, Yi-Fu. Space and Place: A Humanistic Perspective, ed. Agnew, 445–457.Google Scholar
  36. Vespucci, Amerigo. 1992. Letters from a New World. New York: Marsilio Publishers.Google Scholar
  37. Wallerstein, Immanuel. 2004. World-Systems Analysis: An Introduction. Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Wright, Ronald. 1992. Stolen Continents: The “New World” Through Indian Eyes. New York: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stony Brook UniversityStony BrookUSA

Personalised recommendations