Masters of All They Surveyed: Exploration, Geography, and a British el Dorado

Masters of All They Surveyed: Exploration, Geography, and a British el Dorado

by D. Graham Burnett
     
 

ISBN-10: 0226081206

ISBN-13: 9780226081205

Pub. Date: 09/28/2000

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Chronicling the British pursuit of the legendary El Dorado, Masters of All They Surveyed tells the fascinating story of geography, cartography, and scientific exploration in Britain's unique South American colony, Guyana. How did nineteenth-century Europeans turn areas they called terra incognita into bounded colonial territories? How did a tenderfooted gentleman,…  See more details below

Overview

Chronicling the British pursuit of the legendary El Dorado, Masters of All They Surveyed tells the fascinating story of geography, cartography, and scientific exploration in Britain's unique South American colony, Guyana. How did nineteenth-century Europeans turn areas they called terra incognita into bounded colonial territories? How did a tenderfooted gentleman, predisposed to seasickness (and unable to swim), make his way up churning rivers into thick jungle, arid savanna, and forbidding mountain ranges, survive for the better part of a decade, and emerge with a map? What did that map mean?

In answering these questions, D. Graham Burnett brings to light the work of several such explorers, particularly Sir Robert H. Schomburgk, the man who claimed to be the first to reach the site of Ralegh's El Dorado. Commissioned by the Royal Geographical Society, and later by the British Crown, Schomburgk explored and mapped regions in modern Brazil, Venezuela, and Guyana, always in close contact with Amerindian communities. Drawing heavily on the maps, reports, and letters that Schomburgk sent back to England, and especially on the luxuriant images of survey landmarks in his Twelve Views in the Interior of Guiana (reproduced in color in this book), Burnett shows how a vast network of traverse surveys, illustrations, and travel narratives not only laid out the official boundaries of British Guiana but also marked out a symbolic landscape that fired the British imperial imagination.

Engagingly written and beautifully illustrated, Masters of All They Surveyed will interest anyone who wants to understand the histories of colonialism and science.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226081205
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
09/28/2000
Edition description:
1
Pages:
314
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.10(d)

Related Subjects

Table of Contents

Prefacexi
1Geography, Exploration, Colonial Territory: An Introduction1
Point of Departure1
The Lay of the Scholarly Land5
A Sketch of the Route13
The Destination: A Little Background on British Guiana17
2Myths and Maps: Making Explorers and Empires25
Mythical Empire and Interior Exploration 1: Finding El Dorado25
Mythical Empire and Interior Exploration 2: Reaching El Dorado33
Remapping and the Making of Explorers37
Remapping and the Making of Territory46
The Other Mythical Empire: Mahanarva54
Epilogue: The Ambivalence of Myth and Metalepsis60
3Traversing Terra Incognita: Getting There and Making Maps67
Elusive Incognitae67
Local Reorientation and Disorientation71
Mapping Terra Incognita: The Traverse and Its Weaknesses84
Fixed Points 1The Humboldtian Tradition92
Fixed Points 2Discipline and Navigation99
Fixed Points 3Landmark, Image, Enclosure109
4Marks on the Land: Landmarks, Aesthetics, and the Image of the Colony119
Views in Context: Writing the Journey119
Views and Strategies of Imperial Visibility126
Pictorial Conventions and Landmark Depictions131
Schomburgk, Bentley, and the Aesthetic Saturation of Sites133
Aesthetic Circuits145
From Landmark to Icon148
Epilogue: Widespread Views161
5Marks of Passage: Landmarks and the Practice of Geographical Exploration167
Re-viewed167
Tracks of Passage169
Landmarks and Methexis174
Amerindian Negotiations181
Icarian Anxieties: The Fall as Landmark189
Pictorial Conventions and Exploratory Subversions194
Epilogue: Place and Erasure197
6Boundaries: The Beginnings of the Ends199
Disputed Boundaries/Disputed Man199
Delimitation, Demarcation, "Deconstruction"?202
Consummatio, Landmarks, and the "Natural" Boundary208
Traversing the Boundary: The Surpassing Problem214
Narrative Part 1Northwest216
Narrative Part 2Southwest228
Narrative Part 3East242
Epilogue: The Wake of the Boundary253
7Conclusion: History, Geography, Nation255
Up to This Point255
And Over the Line257
Epigram265
Bibliography267
Index285

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