2 min read
Even a cursory glance at the map included in "The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe" is enough to guess both the time period and the perspective the book is written from. It's a map made by a colonizer, someone who sees Africa as an opportunity and its people as a bountiful resource ready to be plundered. The fact that one of the countries is called "Negroland" really drives home how little they cared for the cultural identity of these people, how they reduced them to commodities and nothing more. There's a chilling moment in "Robinson Crusoe" where the titular character, after being saved by the Portugese captain, is approached with a proposition by some planters and merchants. Having heard his story about encountering the people of Guinea, they want to sail there and enslave the inhabitants. They ask Crusoe to come along and manage the trading. Bear in mind that these are people who offered Crusoe and Xury aid, who showed nothing but kindness. But this doesn't deter Crusoe. He has no qualms with enslaving the people who helped him, his only concern being that it's a big risk to just take a voyage when he's already got a good thing going. This essentially sums up Crusoe's attitude throughout the novel: indifferent. Apathetic. It's not that he hates these people, he just doesn't care about them. He doesn't see them as human beings worth empathizing with or considering. It's attitudes like these that enabled atrocities like imperialism, and hangs over the novel and this map like an ugly cloud.