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Processes of Spatialization in the Americas

Configurations and Narratives

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Edited By Gabriele Pisarz-Ramirez and Hannes Warnecke-Berger

Where do the Americas begin, and where do they end? What is the relationship between the spatial constructions of «area» and «continent»? How were the Americas imagined by different actors in different historical periods, and how were these imaginations – as continent, nation, region – guided by changing agendas and priorities? This interdisciplinary volume addresses competing and conflicting configurations and narratives of spatialization in the context of globalization processes from the 19th century to the present.

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Florida as a Hemispheric Region

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Abstract: The chapter investigates Florida as a “hemispheric region,” exploring how its peripheral position at the southeastern tip of the United States, its closeness to the Caribbean, and its tropicality framed it as a space essentially different from the rest of the United States. Florida in the early 19th century was considered an unstable land: regarded as largely uncultivable, on watery ground, and home to unruly populations, its perceived “disorder” and transitional character made it a space of projection for speculations about the nation’s expansionist ventures. I focus on two particularities of Florida’s topography that highlight its instability and tropicality, the reef and the swamp, and explore their representation in texts by three US American authors: James F. Cooper (Jack Tier), John James Audubon (Ornithological Biographies), and Joshua Giddings (The Exiles of Florida). I argue that all three authors depict Florida as a hemispheric region, and that reefs and swamps become significant symbols in the texts to negotiate issues of nationhood, expansionism, and slavery. The construction of Florida in these texts, however, was guided by the authors’ different agendas and the role they attributed to the peninsula in the expanding nation.

1Introduction

Talking about the southernmost parts of the United States, literary critic Vera Kutzinski has pointed out that they “in cultural terms […] are really rimlands of the Caribbean, and have ever been so since slaves were traded between the two areas, well before the Louisiana Purchase in 1803” (61). Discussing William Faulkner’s Absalom,...

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