Africa, Asia, and Australia: The New World Wide Geographies Second Series Book 2
This geography textbook reflects the imperialist assumptions that underlay the teaching of geography in Great Britain in the mid-20th century. The text covers Africa, Asia and Australia, three regions with long histories of European colonisation. The eurocentrism of the text is evident in the way in which the text describes Africa as the ‘continent of mystery’ and ‘a land of mystery and romance’ (8) noting that ‘It is only during the last hundred years that Africa has really been opened up by European explorers’ (7). A history of Africa is not provided but rather a history of British exploration and European settlement. The section ‘Africa To-Day’ emphasises the European role in ‘the opening up of Africa’ and notes the territories controlled by France, Belgium, Portugal and Britain. The physical traits of Africans are outlined in crude terms. This underlying eurocentrism and imperialism is equally evident in the section on Australia where the First Australians are written out of the history of the continent entirely. One photograph shows some First Australian boys, but otherwise the native inhabitants are not mentioned. By contrast, the Maori of New Zealand are described. However, such imperialist and racialist overtones do not characterise the entire text. Elsewhere, the advancement of civilisation in Asia is highlighted: ‘The Chinese were civilised long before Christ as born, and when our ancestors were still savages they were a cultured people’ (191). Likewise in Chapter 10, ‘Asia: The Cradle of Civilisation’, it is noted that mankind probably spread from Asia and that ‘Asia was the birth place of all the great religions of the world…. it was the Chinese who first learnt how to print, and it was they who invented paper and gunpowder’ (111). The difference in the approach to Asia is a notable and interesting feature. The text is heavily illustrated with black and white maps and photographs.
Jasper H. Stembridge
Reprinted 1952, 1953 (corrected)
Place of Publication:
Oxford University Press
Date of Publication:
320 pp., ill.
Geography, Textbook, British Empire, Imperialism, Eurocentrism, Africa, Asia, Australia, Representations of Nations and Nationalities
Schoolbook Collection - SPD