First published in 1990, Deconstructing America breaks new ground by locating the European discovery of America within the study of representations of Otherness. Peter Mason acknowledges that America was part of the European imagination before its discovery, but challenges the claim that the European vision of America is merely a distorted view of some extra-European reality. He relates the way in which Europe tended to see the inhabitants of South America as monstrous figures to a longstanding European tradition on the ‘Plinian’ human races, and goes on to point out that the existence of similar representations among contemporary Amerindian peoples calls into question the extent to which ethnocentrism is an exclusively European idea. Drawing on anthropological, literary and philosophical studies, he shows how European representations of America constitute a cultural monologue which tells more about the Old World than the New. This book will be a stimulating reading for all those working in the fields of symbolic and cultural anthropology, semiotics, cultural studies, Latin America, structuralism and deconstruction.

chapter |12 pages

Otherwise: a sort of introduction

chapter Chapter one|28 pages

Imaginary worlds

chapter Chapter two|30 pages

Popular culture and the internal other

chapter Chapter three|26 pages

The monstrous human races

chapter Chapter four|22 pages

The monstrous human races of America

chapter Chapter five|18 pages

A monstrous idiom: articulation

chapter Chapter six|16 pages

A monstrous idiom: punctuation

chapter Chapter seven|16 pages

Eurocentrism and ethnocentrism

chapter Chapter eight|19 pages

The elementary structures of alterity