Representing Africa

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

Author: John McAleer

Southern Africa played a varied but vital role in Britain's maritime and imperial stories. The region was one of the most intricate pieces in the British imperial strategic jigsaw, and representations of southern African landscape and maritime spaces reflect its multifaceted position. This book examines the ways in which British travellers, explorers and artists viewed southern Africa in a period of evolving and expanding British interest in the region. Cape Town occupied in the visual and cultural understanding of British people in the 1760s. It is a representation of southern Africa. The book presents a study that examines and contextualises such representations of southern African landscapes, seascapes and settlements by British officials, travellers and artists. It interrogates how and why these descriptions and depictions came about, as well as the role they played in the British imagining and understanding of southern African spaces. The focus is on a period of evolving and expanding British interest and intervention in southern Africa, its impact on peoples and their environs, and the expression in contemporary landscape and seascape representation. British formal control at the Cape of Good Hope brought European aesthetic frameworks to bear on the viewing of landscapes. Exploration and imperialism were defining features of the British experience in southern Africa. Drawing on a wide range of archival sources, contemporary travelogues and visual images, the book posits landscape as a useful prism through which to view changing British attitudes towards Africa.

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