In This Review

The Myth of Continents: A Critique of Metageography
The Myth of Continents: A Critique of Metageography
By Martin W. Lewis and Karen E. Wigen
University of California Press, 1997, 344 pp

The authors argue that conventional geographical taxonomies that divide the world into continents, nation-states, and even cultural-political spaces like the First World and Third World are overly simple-minded and reinforce a hierarchical, Eurocentric view of the world. While cartographic ethnocentrism is surely an established historical fact, this book tilts at windmills: most sensible people recognize that terms like "Asia," "Africa," or the "South" represent complex, heterogeneous categories, and yet continue to use them because they are a shorthand for what remain meaningful political, economic, and cultural distinctions.