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DISCRIMINATING EVIDENCE: CLOSENESS AND DISTANCE IN NATURAL AND CIVIL HISTORIES OF THE CARIBBEAN

  • Miles Ogborn (a1)
Abstract

Enlightenment ideas of the “the Great Map of Mankind” established relationships between historical and geographical distance which provided the problematic for eighteenth-century natural and civil histories. This raised issues of evidence for writing such histories that were particularly acute in the Caribbean, where natural history was—via the movement and transplantation of plants, animals and peoples—always a matter of “civil” history; and where the question of what (or who) was “civil” (or civilized) was addressed via discussions of the boundary between humanity and nature. It is shown that how these questions were asked provoked the use of an array of evidence that varied in its management of the relationships of proximity and distance: including travellers’ tales, eyewitness observations, classical authors and philosophical speculation. The epistemological disjunctures that this evidence brought with it meant that the questions that were opened up could not be closed down.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Kay Dian Kriz , “Curiosities, Commodities, and Transplanted Bodies in Hans Sloane's ‘Natural History of Jamaica’”, William and Mary Quarterly, 57 (2000), 3578, 48

Charles W. J. Withers , Placing the Enlightenment: Thinking Geographically about the Age of Reason (Chicago, 2007)

Sylvia Sebastiani , The Scottish Enlightenment: Race, Gender, and the Limits of Progress (Basingstoke, 2013)

Kapil Raj , “Refashioning Civilities, Engineering Trust: William Jones, Indian Intermediaries and the Production of Reliable Legal Knowledge in Late Eighteenth-Century Bengal”, Studies in History, 17 (2001), 175209

Mark Salber Phillips , On Historical Distance (New Haven, 2013)

Miles Ogborn , “Talking Plants: Botany and Speech in Eighteenth-Century Jamaica”, History of Science, 51 (2013), 251–82

Beth Fowkes Tobin , “Imperial Designs: Botanical Illustration and the British Botanic Empire”, Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, 25 (1996), 265–92

Griffith Hughes , The Natural History of Barbados (London, 1750)

Kathleen S. Murphy , “Translating the Vernacular: Indigenous and African Knowledge in the Eighteenth-Century British Atlantic”, Atlantic Studies, 8 (2011), 2948

Neil Safier , Measuring the New World: Enlightenment Science and South America (Chicago, 2008)

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Modern Intellectual History
  • ISSN: 1479-2443
  • EISSN: 1479-2451
  • URL: /core/journals/modern-intellectual-history
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