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‘Canaanising Madagascar’: Africa in English imperial imagination, 1635–1650

  • Edmond J. Smith

Africa has often been seen as a barrier between oceanic systems, and a dividing line within English imperial activity – with colonialism a key strategy to the west and trading favoured to the east of the continent. This article will consider English plans for colonisation on the islands of Madagascar and Assada on the east African coast and question how these can help us understand how the English thought about Africa as a geographical and imagined space within England’s developing imperial activities. This, in turn, will support an argument that English activities overseas operated within an environment where information was carefully controlled, created and disseminated to support the aims of the commercial community.

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Edmond J. Smith is completing his PhD at the University of Cambridge (2015) with research in early modern history specialising in the economic and social history of seventeenth century England, with particular focus on commercial communities and empire. He has published articles in the European Review of History and International Journal of Maritime History. He would like to thank Richard Blakemore, Alison Games, and William O’Reilly for their comments on this article, from its first presentation through to publication.

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