21.144 geographical models: the Netherlands

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Mon, 2 Jul 2007 06:50:18 +0100

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 21, No. 144.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Mon, 02 Jul 2007 06:45:57 +0100
         From: "Hunsucker, R.L." <R.L.Hunsucker_at_uva.nl>
         Subject: RE: 21.136 geographical models?


Very interesting topic to think about.

> > [ . . . ]
> Does anyone here know of others?

I've seen no reponse yet to this query, and may be speaking
slightly out of turn (as non-native here), but one that occurs to
me is the commonplace that Holland's centuries-long battle
with the waters has (but actually: to what extent?) determined
ways of thinking and acting (cooperation, compromise,
consensus, teleration) that were most obvious in the early
modern period, but still operative today. How far can you take
this -- also into the intellectual, literary and artistic spheres ?

As I say, this is a sort of commonplace, also here, a kind of
cliche. See, for example the paper by Ad van Iterson, "The
development of national governance principles in the Netherlands"
(Maastricht : NIBOR, 1997), available at :
-- but also, for a more critical view, dating to the same year :
"Dutch nation-building: a struggle against the water?", by Hans
Knippenberg in _GeoJournal_ 43.1, p.27-40. See, too, Sako
Musterd & Ben de Pater, "Eclectic and pragmatic: the colours
of Dutch social and cultural geography", _Social & cultural
geography_ 4.4 (2003), p.549-563.

- Laval Hunsucker


From: Humanist Discussion Group on behalf of=20
Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard=20
McCarty <willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>)
Sent: Wed 6/27/2007 7:40 AM
To: humanist_at_Princeton.EDU
Subject: 21.136 geographical models?

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 21, No. 136.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                       Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

           Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2007 08:33:12 +0100
           From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
           Subject: geographical models?

In Humanist 21.113 I referred to Edouard Glissant's geographical
metaphor in Poetics of Relation (Michigan, 1997) but did not quote
what he says. Forgive me for the repetition, but now I'd like to turn
the reference into a question. Here is what he says:

>The Caribbean, as far as I am concerned, may be held up as one of
>the places in the world where Relation presents itself most visibly,
>one of the explosive regions where it seems to be gathering
>strength. This has always been a place of encounter and connivance
>and, at the same time, a passageway toward the American continent.
>Compared to the Mediterranean, which is an inner sea surrounded by
>lands, a sea that concentrates (in Greek, Hebrew, and Latin
>antiquity and later in the emergence of Islam, imposing the thought
>of the One), the Caribbean is, in contrast, a sea that explodes the
>scattered lands into an arc. A sea that diffracts. Without
>necessarily inferring any advantage whatsoever to their situation,
>the reality of archipelagos in the Caribbean or the Pacific provides
>a natural illustration of the thought of Relation. (p. 33)

I became interested in the effects of native geography on how one
constructs one's various worlds when I encountered the mathematician
David Hilbert's imperial metaphor of the relation of disciplines in
his 1917 lecture, "Axiomatic Thought" (in William Ewald, ed., From
Kant to Hilbert: A Source Book in the Foundations of
Mathematics. Volume II. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996.):

>Just as in the life of nations the individual nation can only thrive
>when all neighbouring nations are in good health; and just as the
>interest of states demands, not only that order prevail within every
>individual state, but also that the relationships of the states among
>themselves be in good order; so it is in the life of the sciences. In
>due recognition of this fact the most important bearers of mathematical
>thought have always evinced great interest in the laws and the structure
>of the neighbouring sciences; above all for the benefit of mathematics
>itself they have always cultivated the relations to the neighbouring
>sciences, especially to the great empires of physics and epistemology.

In an article in Literary and Linguistic Computing (21.1, 2006) I
pointed to some Australian examples, much closer to the Caribbean
than the European. Does anyone here know of others? Are there British
examples that differ significantly from the continental European, as
one suspects they would? Any Canadian ones other than Northrop Frye's
speculations on the relationship been geographically determined
demography and his people's genius for communication?


Dr Willard McCarty | Reader in Humanities Computing | Centre for
Computing in the Humanities | King's College London |
http://staff.cch.kcl.ac.uk/~wmccarty/. Et sic in infinitum (Fludd 1617, p.=
Received on Mon Jul 02 2007 - 02:08:32 EDT

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