What can we learn, in the event we apply the metaphor of documentary theatre to the study of the world’s continents?

The world’s continents are key players in the history of the world. They are central players, as well, in the world’s local and regional histories.

We often take for granted that each of the continents has some specified, particular, fixed characteristics.

How we view the world’s continents appears related to (a) where we live and (b) how each of us has come to view the world’s continents, in their respective roles as players – as characters or personas – in an ongoing, historical drama.

When we speak of characters, we are also speaking, in dramaturgical terms, of the casting of characters. We are dealing, that is, with the power dynamics involved with the assignment of specified roles for persons or things. Usually such a casting takes place within a hierarchical, power-based framework.

The historical drama to which I refer begins with our understanding of how the universe came to be formed.

In storytelling related to the role of the Earth’s continents in the history of the world, each continent performs as a character, as a persona, in what can be characterized as a form of a global documentary theatre.

As a conceptual framework which may assist a person in making sense of such a worldwide dramatic production, many useful overviews of documentary theatre are available.

For example, a Dec. 4, 2023 Walrus article is entitled: “How Quebec Fell in Love with Documentary Theatre: Would you watch a play about hydro electricity? How about the dairy industry?”

Such an article is a good place to start, in the event a person wants to get better acquainted with documentary theatre. A related conceptual framework concerns the metaphor of a global verbatim theatre.

Click here for previous posts about verbatim theatre >

Latin America as a character on the world’s stage

At this post, I will focus on how Latin America, in particular, has been viewed over the years from what I would describe as a dramaturgical perspective. Similar studies are available for other continents. For the current post I will focus on Latin America.

We begin with a blurb regarding The Idea of Latin America (2005), a study by Walter D. Mignolo.

A blurb for the above-noted study reads:

The Idea of Latin America is a geo-political manifesto which insists on the need to leave behind an idea which belonged to the nation-building mentality of nineteenth-century Europe.

— Charts the history of the concept of Latin America from its emergence in Europe in the second half of the nineteenth century through various permutations to the present day.

— Asks what is at stake in the survival of an idea which subdivides the Americas.

— Reinstates the indigenous peoples and migrations excluded by the image of a homogenous Latin America with defined borders.

— Insists on the pressing need to leave behind an idea which belonged to the nation-building mentality of nineteenth-century Europe.

Of related interest is an online article entitled:

The Invention of Latin America: A Transnational History of Anti-Imperialism, Democracy, and Race

The article, by Michel Gobat, appears in The American Historical Review, Volume 118, Issue 5, December 2013, Pages 1345–1375, https://doi.org/10.1093/ahr/118.5.1345

An excerpt, in the form of the opening paragraph, reads:

WITH THE PUBLICATION OF Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities in 1983, it has become commonplace among scholars to view nations no longer as things natural but as historical inventions.[1] Far less ink has been spilled concerning the formation of larger geopolitical entities such as continents. Many still take their origins for granted. Yet as some scholars have shown, the terms “Africa,” “America,” “Asia,” and “Europe” resulted from complex historical processes.[2] The concept of the continent emerged in ancient Greece and guided Europeans in their efforts to dominate other areas of the world, especially from the fourteenth century onward. Non-European societies certainly conceptualized their own geopolitical spaces, but the massive spread of European imperialism in the nineteenth century ensured that the European schema of dividing the world into continents would predominate by the twentieth century.[3]

This is an interesting topic. I became interested in how continents are perceived when I began to read about the history of South Africa.

Click here for previous posts about South Africa >

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