Future encounters: learning from the past?
Historians may well be accused of adding a rather sombre note to a debate that takes the necessity (but not the inevitability) of space discovery and exploration for granted such as it is presented in this book. Among historians of the early Atlantic world, such as myself — let alone anthropologists, ethnologists, and political scientists — discovery and exploration have recently become unfashionable, if not altogether disreputable, subjects of study among historians. Even the term “discovery” and its apparently more correct substitute, “encounter” have fallen into disgrace, because such terms allegedly give only a European point of view. In fact, I have myself used the term “encounter” for this article simply to avoid the wrath of the scholarly community — although I still prefer the world “discovery,” which is at least explicit. Indeed, the notion of “encounter,” as applied to Christopher Columbus’s 1492 navigation and the so-called “meeting of the two worlds,” implies that “encounter” first took place between Europeans and American aboriginal peoples, as if other encounters between communities, ethnic groups, nations, peoples and cultures had not taken place prior to 1492 — a notion that is patently false.
KeywordsOuter Space Scarlet Fever Christian Church Future Encounter Past Encounter
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