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Palgrave Macmillan

Science, Voyages, and Encounters in Oceania, 1511-1850

ISBN 9781137305886
Publication Date March 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Series Palgrave Studies in Pacific History

Spanning four centuries and vast space, this book combines the global history of ideas with particular histories of encounters between European voyagers and Indigenous people in Oceania (Island Southeast Asia, New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands). Douglas shows how prevailing concepts of human difference, or race, influenced travellers' approaches to encounters. Yet their presuppositions were often challenged or transformed by the appearance, conduct, and lifestyle of local inhabitants. The book's original theory and method reveal traces of Indigenous agency in voyagers' representations which in turn provided key evidence for the natural history of man and the science of race. In keeping with recent trends in colonial historiography, Douglas diverts historical attention from imperial centres to so-called peripheries, discredits the outmoded stereotype that Europeans necessarily dominated non-Europeans, and takes local agency seriously.

Bronwen Douglas was Senior Fellow at The Australian National University for 16 years and is an Adjunct Associate Professor in retirement. An historian of the interplay of ideas of human difference or race and practical encounters in Oceania, she is author of Across the Great Divide (1998) and co-editor with Chris Ballard of Foreign Bodies: Oceania and the Science of Race 1750-1940 (2008).

Introduction: Indigenous Presence to the Science of Race
1. Before Races: Barbarity, Civility, and Salvation in the Mar del Sur
2. Towards Races: Ambivalent Encounters in the South Seas
3. Seeing Races: Confronting 'Savages' in Terra Australis
4. Meeting Agency: Islanders, Voyagers, and Races in the Mer du Sud
5. Races in the Field: Encounters and Taxonomy in the Grand Océan
6. Raciology in Action: Phrenology, Polygenism, and Agency in Océanie
Conclusion: Race in 1850/Oceania in 1850


'Bronwen Douglas has produced a volume rich in images and accounts about a crucial period of European expansion into the Pacific Ocean. Her emphasis on 'race' as a European metropolitan as well as a Pacific concept adds to our understanding of the developing histories about Pacific worlds. Douglas' book figures as an important read not only for Pacific experts but needs to be placed alongside similar historical developments in the Atlantic and the Indian oceans.' - Rainer F. Buschmann, California State University Channel Islands, Camarillo, USA; International Journal of Maritime History
'This book is an outstanding achievement in terms of theoretical innovation and mastery of a wealth of historical detail.' - Paul Turnbull, University of Tasmania, Australia; The Journal of Pacific History 'Bronwen Douglas' book is a well-researched and considered examination of the history and language of race that continues her previous work regarding encounters, Oceania, science and race. ... It is an impressive piece of research and analysis.' - Amanda Lourie, Deakin University, Australia; Journal of Australian Studies
'...this book is an important contribution to our understanding of the history of racial thought in Oceania and the nature of encounters between European explorers and the region's inhabitants.' - Tristan Mostert, Leiden University, The Netherlands, Itinerario 'This study is [...] crucial to an understanding not only of mobility and the concept of race but also the history and contemporary politics of Oceania.' - Nicole Starbuck, University of Adelaide, Australia, Transfers
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