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date: 26 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Like any human construct, Europe had to be imagined into being. It emerged gradually as an idea, a place, a people, and a culture, from its first appearance in ancient texts through its triumphalist self-assertion as Queen of Continents in the early modern era. This chapter opens with a chronological survey of ancient, medieval, and early modern understandings of Europe, and then turns to the difficulties posed by the blurry margins where Europe set itself apart from others. Oceans set clear boundaries around three sides of Europe, but establishing the eastern limits, especially in the region we now call Russia, raised persistent challenges. In a final section, the chapter explores some views from outside, from those who occupied grey zones of potential membership in the European club and from places definitively categorized as non-European.

Keywords: Europe, cartography, personification, myth of the continents, Ptolemy, boundaries, conceptions of Europe, moral and political geographies

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