Imperial power, both formal and informal, and research in the natural sciences were closely dependent in the nineteenth century. This book examines a portion of the mass-produced juvenile literature, focusing on the cluster of ideas connected with Britain's role in the maintenance of order and the spread of civilization. It discusses the political economy of Western ecological systems, and the consequences of their extension to the colonial periphery, particularly in forms of forest conservation. Progress and consumerism were major constituents of the consensus that helped stabilise the late Victorian society, but consumerism only works if it can deliver the goods. From 1842 onwards, almost all major episodes of coordinated popular resistance to colonial rule in India were preceded by phases of vigorous resistance to colonial forest control. By the late 1840s, a limited number of professional positions were available for geologists in British imperial service, but imperial geology had a longer pedigree. Modern imperialism or 'municipal imperialism' offers a broader framework for understanding the origins, long duration and persistent support for overseas expansion which transcended the rise and fall of cabinets or international realignments in the 1800s. Although medical scientists began to discern and control the microbiological causes of tropical ills after the mid-nineteenth century, the claims for climatic causation did not undergo a corresponding decline. Arthur Pearson's Pearson's Magazine was patriotic, militaristic and devoted to royalty. The book explores how science emerged as an important feature of the development policies of the Colonial Office (CO) of the colonial empire.
The book shows how people have come to approach the writing of imperial histories in the early twenty-first century. It explores the social and political contexts that informed the genesis and development of the Studies in Imperialism series, and the conceptual links it has sought to forge between empire and metropolitan culture. The book provides an insightful account of John MacKenzie's 'Orientalism': the problems of 'power' and 'agency'. The 'MacKenziean moment' needs to be read historically, as a product of the 'delayed arrival of decolonising sensibilities', where contemporary popular phenomena and new types of scholarship integrated Britain and its empire. Sexuality made early appearances in the Series through the publication of 'Empire and Sexuality'. MacKenzie's 'Empire of Nature', 'Imperialism and the Natural World', and 'Museums and Empire' convey the impact of his scholarship in the themes of exploration, environment and empire. The historical geographies of British colonialism have enjoyed a prominent place in the Series, and the book explores the ways in which different 'spatial imaginations' have been made possible. Discussions on colonial policing during the depression years, and on immigrant welfare during and after decolonisation, take their cue from MacKenzie's European Empires and the People. The later nineteenth century witnessed the interaction of many diasporas, which in turn produced new modes of communication. By dealing with the idea of the 'Third British Empire' and the role of the Indian press during and after the British Raj, the book repositions British imperial histories within a broader set of global transformations.
The study of imperial history has entered a new phase. In the era of decolonisation, the search was on for explanations of imperialism as an aberrant phenomenon, a fever in human affairs with a complex epidemiology requiring close aetiological scrutiny. In Britain, historical studies were dominated by a school of 'Little Englander' historians who believed that imperialism had no significance for domestic history. The history of the natural sciences helps to confirm that the imperial connection was far from being simply a diffusionist process. Imperial explorations served to create the social and political contexts of the development of geological ideas in the nineteenth century. The imperial state called forth new disciplines, developed old ones, and served to institutionalise and professionalise them. But this activity took place within, and was conditioned by, specific cultural configurations. In coping with the natural world, the effectiveness of colonial corporist strategies should never be overestimated.
This chapter concerns with the political economy of Western ecological systems, and the consequences of their extension to the colonial periphery, particularly in forms of forest conservation. It focuses upon the political economy of colonial forest and soil controls the societal response to other major forms of ecological intervention also deserves a more thorough examination. The chapter also focuses on the forms of colonial ecological control, particularly 'conservation' structures and the circumstances of resistance. The ecological controls originated in colonial India, particularly those developed in the name of forest conservation, have evoked similar patterns of response in most of the other territories in which they have been applied. The objectives of the continental systems of ecological control were strictly related to naval timber requirements and the other lesser raw material needs of the imperial despotisms.
A study of the evolution of colonial science is perhaps as relevant and instructive as the study of colonialism itself. Colonisation primarily meant exploration and exploitation. Natural resources were the star attraction and this brought the practitioners of natural history into the limelight. Lord Wellesley recorded the illustration and improvement of Natural History of India which embraces an object so extensive as the description of the principal part of the Animal Kingdom is worthy of the munificence and liberality of the English East India Company. The economic value of the geological investigations proved of immediate concern to the Company, with the coalfields of India looming large. Pre-British India had nothing like a scientific society, not to say a journal, which could provide some sort of a platform for scientific workers.
British imperial geology in the nineteenth century
Robert A. Stafford
Geology, like geography, constituted an exploratory science in the nineteenth century. The trajectory of Joseph Jukes's own career exemplifies the possibilities which empire offered for nineteenth-century British geologists. By the late 1840s, a limited number of professional positions were available for geologists in British imperial service. This development owed much to the precedent established by the foundation of the Geological Survey of Great Britain in 1835, but imperial geology had a longer pedigree. The emphasis on mapping gave geology a uniquely territorial dimension which accorded well with the interests of both landed property and imperialism. The increasing flow of colonial specimens into the Museum of Practical Geology provided a rough index of the pace of British overseas expansion. For more than a century, the Empire constituted a natural hinterland for British geology. Surveying the colonies and exploring beyond the imperial borders greatly expanded the horizons of British geology.
The coincidence of geographical reform following the Franco-Prussian War has been interpreted by historians of French imperialism to imply that the growth of geographical activity was essentially a nationalistic response to the defeat by the Germans. The geographical societies were very much the product of a nineteenth-century European society in transition from an aristocratic to a bourgeois leadership, and from a tradition of amateur to professional science. There were several reasons for changes in the geographical societies as they had existed in the early and middle nineteenth century. The commercial geographical societies were similar to the traditional societies in that their work, at least initially, concentrated on exploration and publication. The Societe de geographie was under pressure both to professionalise and demonstrate the economic usefulness of geography to the business community in the early 1870s.
This chapter examines the resurgence of concern about the tropical climate, the range and forms of its expression, the significance that contemporaries drew from it, and the forces that led to its eventual demise. It focuses on the Anglo-American scene, the subject preoccupied all the major colonial powers and the debate it engendered was truly pan-Western in scope. Even though much of this debate was carried out in medical journals and other specialised publications, its influence ranged far beyond the conventional boundaries of tropical medicine and climatology, filtering into the world at large. The climatic debate acted on and reacted to the beliefs and behaviour of Europeans residing in the tropics. It provided commentary on the political choices and constraints of Western imperialism itself. Dr Charles Edward Woodruff applied the scientific authority of modern physics to traditional anxieties about the tropical climate, giving new force to their credibility.
Pearson's Weekly, the Daily Express, and the Tariff Reform campaign were all passing passions, yet in each we can discern two enduring themes: a love of empire and a flair for publicity. Set up in 1900 the Daily Express proclaimed of itself that 'Our policy is patriotic; our policy is the British Empire', and later it was to be Pearson's social imperialism that led him to found the Tariff Reform League with Joseph Chamberlain and be its Chairman until 1905. However, in placing Pearson's publications within the cultural context of a hegemonic crisis, the author's concern is with the science content of his magazines: Pearson's Weekly, started in 1891, and Pearson's Magazine, first published in 1896. In both cases, within that shrinking science content there is a dramatic reduction in the coverage given to technology.
The state and the development of the natural resources of the Colonial Empire, 1887–1923
This chapter discusses the work of the Imperial Institute before 1923. It argues that it can be seen as an early attempt to establish the kind of applied research organisation usually said to have been pioneered in Britain during the First World War. The chapter considers how science emerged as an important feature of the development policies of the Colonial Office (CO). This grew out of the policy of 'constructive imperialism' and the support given by the permanent staff and political heads of the CO to scientific work. The evolution of the relationship between the Institute and the CO is discussed and this is followed by a review of the technical assistance work done by the Institute. The chapter also considers the problems faced by the Institute in the wake of the new wartime initiatives in research and the issue of centralised colonial research.