Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Inventing Exoticism

Inventing Exoticism: Geography, Globalism, and Europe's Early Modern World

Series: Material Texts
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 448
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Inventing Exoticism
    Book Description:

    As early modern Europe launched its multiple projects of global empire, it simultaneously embarked on an ambitious program of describing and picturing the world. The shapes and meanings of the extraordinary global images that emerged from this process form the subject of this highly original and richly textured study of cultural geography.Inventing Exoticismdraws on a vast range of sources from history, literature, science, and art to describe the energetic and sustained international engagements that gave birth to our modern conceptions of exoticism and globalism.

    Illustrated with more than two hundred images of engravings, paintings, ceramics, and more,Inventing Exoticismshows, in vivid example and persuasive detail, how Europeans came to see and understand the world at an especially critical juncture of imperial imagination. At the turn to the eighteenth century, European markets were flooded by books and artifacts that described or otherwise evoked non-European realms: histories and ethnographies of overseas kingdoms, travel narratives and decorative maps, lavishly produced tomes illustrating foreign flora and fauna, and numerous decorative objects in the styles of distant cultures.Inventing Exoticismmeticulously analyzes these, while further identifying the particular role of the Dutch"Carryers of the World," as Defoe famously called themin the business of exotica. The form of early modern exoticism that sold so well, as this book shows, originated not with expansion-minded imperialists of London and Paris, but in the canny ateliers of Holland. By scrutinizing these materials from the perspectives of both producers and consumersand paying close attention to processes of cultural mediationInventing Exoticisminterrogates traditional postcolonial theories of knowledge and power. It proposes a wholly revisionist understanding of geography in a pivotal age of expansion and offers a crucial historical perspective on our own global culture as it engages in a media-saturated world.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-9034-9
    Subjects: History, Population Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. IX-XX)
  4. INTRODUCTION On the Invention of Exoticism and the Invention of Europe
    (pp. 1-24)

    They arrive in pairs, single file, and snake around a large, central orb that rests on a pedestal, each couple bearing riches from afar: ivory tusks, tortoise shells, and a claw-footed casket from a tandem of muscular Africans; large rolls of tobacco and a finely decorated coffer borne by a feather-decked duo of Indians from America; a hefty ceramic urn (filled with frankincense or myrrh, one imagines) from the two Asian delegates who bring up the rear (figure 1). They deliver their wares to a lavishly attired, splendidly coiffed, daintily gesturing woman, who sits—stage left—surrounded by objects that...

  5. CHAPTER ONE PRINTING THE WORLD: Processed Books and Exotic Stereotypes
    (pp. 25-82)

    On 19 May 1664, Europe’s exotic world expanded dramatically. This was not the date that saw a particularly far-reaching exploratory voyage launched from a European port (although surely several would have been dispatched at that time). Nor was this the moment when an exceptionally rich vessel returned from the Indies, to be unloaded at the warehouses of Amsterdam, London, Seville, or La Rochelle (again, not an unlikely scenario). Rather, this was the day on which the States of Holland granted the Amsterdam publisher Jacob van Meurs (circa 1618–1680) an exclusive, fifteen-year privilege to publish a large-format book on China...

  6. CHAPTER TWO SEEING THE WORLD: Visuality and Exoticism
    (pp. 83-162)

    By the turn of the eighteenth century, Europeans enjoyed an unprecedented ability to view the world. Habits of travel had not so drastically changed—overseas voyages were still the unhappy lot of sailors and soldiers, by and large, made to staff the dangerous and commonly fatal expeditions of conquest and trade abroad. Yet to see the world in mimetic form—to view it in the wide range of devices dedicated to the replication of the exotic world—had become remarkably easy by this time, especially in the abundantly produced and widely circulated sources of Dutch geography. These sources delivered the...

  7. CHAPTER THREE EXOTIC BODIES: Sex and Violence Abroad
    (pp. 163-226)

    Looking at and “seeing” exotica was a common enough pastime in early modern Europe, yet the object of European interest was by no means restricted to the mundane and scattered things of the world, to the disparate material objects and natural wonders that could readily be collected, replicated, and circulated within Europe. The exotic body itself also commanded considerable attention, in both word and vivid image, its very flesh exposed and examined, its sundry parts pricked and prodded in myriad and revealing ways. This took place largely by proxy, in widely available descriptive accounts—books, prints, maps, and paintings, most...

  8. Plates
    (pp. None)
  9. CHAPTER FOUR EXOTIC PLEASURES: Geography, Material Arts, and the “Agreeable” World
    (pp. 227-324)

    It is a curious fact that, over the course of the early modern period, exotic place names came to stand for exotic goods. That is—to put this more precisely and technically—geographic nomenclature associated with several of the lately encountered foreign spaces of the early modern world became appropriated by Europeans as a linguistic means to identify a range of material objects, particularly the sorts of consumable luxury items lately flooding the fashionable courts and better households of Europe. This did not apply to all exotic lands or to most exotic goods. Yet over the course of the early...

    (pp. 325-336)

    The pleasures of Europe’s exotic world flourished around 1700, and its delights endured well into the eighteenth century. The use of the word itself—exotic—and its meaning also expanded over this period. Along with its traditional and customary deployment in natural history to designate non-native species, and its technical use in certain other fields of inquiry to describe things foreign or extrinsic to (“outside of”) a defined indigenousness, the wordexoticcame to indicate by the mid-eighteenth century things that had not onlyforeignbut alsodelightfulattributes—things that possessed alien and perhaps curious qualities, yet also things...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 337-374)
    (pp. 375-394)
    (pp. 395-398)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 399-412)