Geography, Performance, Design

We do not see empty figures and outlines; we do not move in straight lines. Everywhere we are surrounded by dapple; the geometry of our embodied lives is curviform, meandering, bi-pedal. Our personal worlds are timed, inter-positional, and contingent. But nowhere in the language of cartography and design do these ordinary experiences appear. This, Dark Writing argues, is a serious omission because they are designs on the world: architects and colonizers use their lines to construct the places where we will live. But the rectilinear streets, squares, and public spaces produced in this way leave out people and the entire environmental history of their coming together. How, author Paul Carter asks, can we explain the omission of bodies from maps and plans? And how can we redraw the lines maps and plans use so that the qualitative world of shadows, footprints, comings and goings, and occasions—all essential qualities of places that incubate sociality—can be registered?

Writing Past Colonialism
Published in association with the Institute of Postcolonial Studies, University of Melbourne
October 2008 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3312-1 / $28.00 (PAPER)