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This afterword considers the contribution of the essays in Archipelagic American Studies toward a definition of the archipelagic imaginary. It addresses questions of representation, suggesting that the relational flows of the archipelago become a corollary to the idea of multidirectional meaning. It traces overlaps and points of differentiation with more traditional forms of area studies and “continentalism,” suggesting that the archipelagic is beholden less to bounded terrestrial forms than to the contours of planetary space. Consideration is given to the impact of ecology and environmental forces on archipelagic thinking, as well as to links between the archipelagic imaginary and Internet cultures. This archipelagic method is thus extended beyond the specific domain of the sea to encompass broader social and technological relations in the contemporary world, with the afterword considering how conceptions of the archipelagic effectively subject normative structures to a process of inversion.

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