Otherness - Wor(l)ds          For The Future.
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Islands for Alterity

Islands become an experience and a tool for understanding the world through the eye of the Otherness.

Trans-ocean explorations started in XV sec. and boosted by America’s discovery, have irreversibly changed the face of the world while affecting our perception of the “Other”. Otherness could also specifically describe how a dominant group could define other groups with less power, usually a dominant majority.

From the perspective of a map, the process of “Enlightenment” has been unreservedly redefined. Since its fruition, the drawn boundaries of the globe are made in a way as fluid and easy, as drawing some lines on paper during a phone call.

With the same readiness, it has been eventually possible to erase the spirituality and identity of “other”, small, submitted cultures. When the necessity to represent the “new world” by this new, western-oriented perspective came up, it brought with it the geographical renaming of places the conquistadores were imposing on. Naming is political, too. These outsider-imposed names (exonyms) are not the names that the various people knew in their own language (autonyms). The name is attached to stories that help people make sense of their lives, while also helping to understand how people fought to protect their boundaries. The current islands’ names have long been erased due to the limitations affecting cartographic representations.

Islands, for instance, are the only places where natural borders imposed by the water help to preserve local cultures from eventually-imposed boundaries. These are often followed by invasions; while making a privileged space for developing small and autonomous communities.

Sometimes centres of activity, residing on margins, the islands keep a hold onto an evocative force, even when they supposed to be only imaginary, as the example brought by Utopia by Thomas More (1516) would call back. Islands concretely represent the Otherness in its purest essence, while the Otherness finds in the Islands a flourishing soil to grow, remaining limited while still protecting, at the same time, their natural conformity. Islands become an experience and a tool for understanding the world through the eye of the Otherness.

In this Imaginary Atlas, Otherness is embodying various types of islands’ representations, which you can use to imagine and build new community-structures for the future.