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Sir Roderick Murchison's life and work is investigated in this study as a bargain struck between science and the forces of imperialism in mid-Victorian Britain. It illuminates the broader, and still present, intimacy between science and government. More than any contemporary, Murchison (1792-1871) emerged as the eminent Victorian who "sold" science to the Imperial government, on the grounds of utility as much as prestige. By the end of his life the map of the world and its powers looked very different; and throughout this world there were two dozen "discoveries" named after Murchison himself. A giant of the imperial age, Murchison's career was tied intimately to the expansion of the political, economic and scientific realm of the British Empire. He was a founding father of geological science and geographical exploration, president of the Royal Geographical Society and Director-General of the Geological Survey. His identification of the Silurian system in geology--and subsequent prediction of the location of economic riches--is as notable as his patronage of David Livingstone and other figures of Victorian exploration.
Reviews & endorsements
"This work, carefully researched and precisely written, is a useful addition to the literature of the history of the British Empire. It will be equally useful to scientists and historians of science." The HistorianSee more reviews
"...a detailed exploration of the interactions of science and the forces of British imperialism... It deserves a place in all good geological libraries, and on the shelves of any geologist wanting a proper understanding of the context in which British and Commonwealth science still operates. " Nigel Woodcock, Geology
"...adds considerably to our understanding of Murchison and to our knowledge about the public role of science in the Victorian era." Joe D. Burchfield, American Historical Review
"...my admiration for the author's exhaustive research and for the clarity and skill with which he discusses Murchison's many undertakings." Leroy E. Page, Isis
"Stafford...argues his thesis convincingly and well, and Scientist of Empire will no doubt light the way for others to venture into the cultural history of science on a surer footing." Suzanne Zeller, Victorian Studies
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- Date Published: July 2002
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9780521528672
- length: 308 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 152 x 18 mm
- weight: 0.46kg
- contains: 7 colour illus.
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
List of illustrations
1. The King of Siluria
2. The antipodes
3. The Americans
4. The Middle East
5. The Indian empire and Central Asia
6. The Far East
8. The architect of imperial science
List of abbreviations used in the notes and bibliography
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