Continents are generally defined as large masses of land, all of them are… but Europe and Asia. Africa is a clearly defined continent, so are the Americas, Antartica, but are Europe and Asia a Continent in a geographic sense or in a cultural/ethnic sense? The more I look at the concept of Asia for example, the more flawed I think it is. As you can see from the Wikipedia, Asia is really part of the same land mass as Europe so they should be one continent: Eurasia. Why do we then have two continents made of one land mass? Probably because in this case it is not geography that prevailed in the definition but a cultural construct in which Europeans who were drawing the maps decided that Europe ended wherever people did not look like Europeans or did not practice the same religion as the cartographers.

So where does Europe end and Asia begin? Either when European looking people meet non European looking people or Christians meet Muslims. But now that building FON I spend a lot of time in Asia I believe that if it is culture and not geography that defines continents then Asia should not be one continent but at least three. The first one should be the area that uses some Chinese characters or has significant Chinese populations and influence, including China, Japan and Korea and South East Asia. Secondly India which seems to be a cultural continent on its own, but could also include Nepal, Burma and maybe Thailand. And third the Muslim world that should include parts of what is seen as South East Asia, Pakistan, to Turkey and North Africa could all be part of this concept of cultural continent.

In terms of cultural proximities, if we did conceive of these three continents namely the Chinese world, the Muslim world and the Indian world we would see that some of these cultural continents have more in common with other continents than with their neighbors in Asia. Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong for example are in my view closer to Europe in their way of life than anywhere else in Asia. To me a Japanese has much more in common with a French than with a Pakistani even though Pakistan and Japan are both seen as Asian countries. Personally I have abandoned the concept of the geographic continent as pretty much useless in business, and I think more and more in cultural continents populated by different cultures who while diverse among themselves, say the Japanese and the Chinese, have more in common than other cultures who do not belong to the same continent, say the Chinese and the Iranians. That works better in many respects including more concretely for us at FON in understanding how to grow the FON Movement around the world. At FON we see Europe, North America which for us does not include Mexico, then Latin America, Africa, the Muslim World, the Indian world, Australia/New Zeland, and the Chinese/Japanese/Korean World. But this is how I see the world when I have to generalize and I am very willing to change my view which may also be affected by the same prejudice that I accused the original cartographers of having.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

No Comments

XL on September 12, 2006  · 

Andrey Golub on September 12, 2006  · 

Hadi Kabalan on September 12, 2006  · 

Hubert on September 13, 2006  · 

tech bee on September 14, 2006  · 

Galleguayo on September 14, 2006  · 

Martin Varsavsky on September 14, 2006  · 

JONPY on September 19, 2006  · 

Daniel Raven-Ellison on October 10, 2006  · 

Leave a Comment

Español / English


Subscribe to e-mail bulletin:
Recent Tweets