Author: Michael Mann, Ineke Phaf-Rheinberger.
Mann, Michael and Phaf-Rheinberger, Ineke. 2014. Beyond the Line. Berlin: Neofelis.
The title of this book refers to the imaginary "Line" drawn between North and South, a division established by the Peace Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis (1559). This is an early modern and Euro-centric construction, according to which the southern oceanic world has long been taken as symbol of expansionist philosophies and practices. An obvious motivation for changing this "Line" division is the growing influence of the "Global South" in the contemporary economic and political setting. However, another motivation for changing opinions with regard to the "Line" is equally important. We observe an emergent consciousness of the pivotal role of the oceanic world for human life. This requires the reformulation of former views and raises numerous questions. A diversity of connections comes to the mind, which demands the composition of a catalogue of case studies with an oceanic horizon. Through this operation, different problems are being linked together. How does one trace records about pirates of non-European descent in the Indian Ocean? What role do the oceans play as mediators for labor migration, not only of the Black Atlantic, but also of people moving from Asia to Africa, and vice versa? What is known about workers on the oceans and their routes? Which problems do historians encounter with their research on fishing? When considering oceans as "contact zones," what criteria is used to analyze their influence? Is it possible to study nationalisms, taking into account these transoceanic relationships? And, how do artists address these questions in their use of the media? Against the background of this catalogue of oceanic questions, "old" stories are told anew. Sometimes, their cultural stereotypes are recycled to criticize political and social situations. Or, in other cases, they are adopted for elaborating alternative options. In this sense, the book's contributions concentrate on countries, such as India, Kenya, Angola, or Brazil, and cover different academic fields. A variety of objects and situations are explored, which have been, and still are, determinant for the construction of cultural narratives in view of the modified relationship with the geographically southern oceanic regions.