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(p.273) Conclusion
The Indies of the Setting Sun
Ricardo Padrón
University of Chicago Press

The Spanish attempt to map East and Southeast Asia as the transpacific west does not seem to have survived the sixteenth century. Although Spanish officialdom continued to map the Philippines as a place "to the west" of Spanish America until the nineteenth century, few if any Spaniards continued to think of the rest of the region as somehow Spanish. What is to be gained, therefore, by tracing the history of so short-lived a geopolitical imaginary? First, it reminds us that all worldmaking projects are historically contingent. Second, it reminds us that America was never invented, once and for all, as an island separate from Asia, and that the process of invention on the page and on the ground remained open to connection with other regions, including transpacific Asia. Third, it teaches us to read early modern geopolitical texts in terms of the metageographical plurality that has always informed western worldmaking.

Keywords:   invention of America, Pacific Century, metageography, historical contingency

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