Empirical Power, Imperial Science: Science, Empire, and the ‘Classification’ of the Late Eighteenth Century Pacific
Voogel, Justin Wyatt 1991-
The Pacific of the mid eighteenth century was far removed from what it would become by the first decade of the nineteenth. The transformation from an expansive, unknown blue desert to a clearly defined space crisscrossed by trade routes and dotted with burgeoning colonial settlements came as the result of four decades of survey and study carried out by the governments of Europe. At the fore of this expeditionary fervor, Great Britain sponsored five separate voyages of discovery that served to codify the Pacific Ocean under the precepts of European cartography and Linnaean classification with the aid of natural historians, botanic draughtsmen, gardeners, and astronomers. At a time when European powers found themselves at odds, if not outright war, these voyages and their discoveries became a focal point of cooperation as the far-flung regions of the globe were slowly given shape and meaning within a European context. Combining the resources of the Royal Navy with members and backing from the Royal Society, these endeavours sought to bring back to Europe a defined picture of the Pacific, from its coastlines to its flora and fauna and, of course, descriptions of the Polynesian societies they encountered. Covering the final decades of the long eighteenth century, these voyages formed quintessential examples of Enlightenment ideals, seeking out the unknown areas of the globe and sharing those discoveries with the world, and would ultimately be appropriated and used towards the national interest. This thesis, then, serves to highlight the move from empirical voyage of discovery to imperial scientific endeavour through the changing role of naval captains and natural historians and their understanding of their place in this larger endeavour.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
CommitteeCarlson, Keith; Clifford, Jim; Aitken, Alec
Copyright DateSeptember 2017
Sir Joseph Banks