John McAleer
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The land in amber
in Representing Africa
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This chapter presents examples to illustrate what Dorothy Hammond and Alta Jablow have identified as the viewing of Africa as a 'land in amber' and a place of spiritual refreshment. Southern and eastern African landscapes were increasingly identified as arenas for hunting towards the end of the nineteenth century. The landscape of Africa was perceived as uncorrupted by the taint of human involvement. Henry Butler's ambivalent attitude to the change that he experienced within the space of a few months' travel was replicated in others' opinions of Africa, its landscapes and peoples. Links between hunting and imperial power are clearly much more complicated than a simple inverse proportional relationship, but the effects of exploration and empire had major and lasting consequences for the landscapes and fauna of southern Africa. Free from the hierarchies, restraints and social customs of Britain, the wide-open spaces of empire promised what was denied in Europe.

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Representing Africa

Landscape, exploration and empire in southern Africa, 1780–1870


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