How can you know about somewhere you’ve never been? This predicament is at the heart of David Lambert’s superb new book, Mastering the Niger: James MacQueen’s African Geography and the Struggle over Atlantic Slavery. In 1841 the Scottish geographer and proslavery propagandist James MacQueen published A New Map of Africa. MacQueen had never visited the continent.
The London Zoological Society was founded in 1826 by Sir Stamford Raffles and Sir Humphrey Davy, emerging at a time when interest in collecting and displaying human and nonhuman fragments of the natural world was intensifying.
In his 2013 book, The Enlightenment: And Why It Still Matters, Anthony Pagden devoted a chapter to the European ‘discovery’ of ‘man in nature’, partly through their study of the individual men whom French and British explorers brought back from their voyages to the South Pacific.
Amelia Bonea has presented a timely book that combines the mechanisms of technology and news making in critically meaningful ways to present the production of printed news as contingent, variable and even accidental.
The greatest indictment of the hard-driving slave system in the 18th-century British Caribbean was that the enslaved population never achieved natural population increase (except briefly in Barbados but only by 1810). Abolitionists seized on the failure of slave populations to thrive as a sign that slavery was immoral.