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Appears in Collections:History and Politics eTheses
Title: The Nature of British Mapping of West Africa, 1749 - 1841
Author(s): Outram-Leman, Sven Daniel
Supervisor(s): Steyn, Phia
Adderley, Paul
Keywords: Cartography, West Africa, Empire, Pre-Colonial History, Contact, Natural History, Maps, Mapping,
Issue Date: 1-May-2017
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: By focusing on the “nature” of mapping, this thesis falls under the category of critical cartography closely associated with the work of Brian Harley in the 1980s and early 1990s. As such the purpose of this research is to highlight the historical context of British maps, map-making and map-reading in relation to West Africa between 1749 and 1841. I argue that maps lie near the heart of Britain’s interactions with West Africa though their appearance, construction and use evolved dramatically during this period. By beginning this study with a prominent French example (Jean Baptiste Bourguignon d’Anville’s 1749 “Afrique”) I show how British map-makers adapted cartography from France for their own purposes before circumstances encouraged the development of new materials. Because of the limited opportunities to make enquiries in the region and the relatively few people involved in affecting change to the map’s content, this thesis highlights the episodes and manufactured narratives which feature in the chronology of evolving cartographies. This study concludes with the failure of the 1841 Niger Expedition, when Britain’s humanitarian agenda saw the attempted establishment of a model farm on banks of the Niger River and the negotiation of anti-slave trade treaties with nearby Africans. The cartography and geographical knowledge which supported this scheme is in stark contrast with what existed in the mid-eighteenth century. More than simply illustrating geographical and ethnographical information though, these maps helped inform Britons about themselves and I argue that much of what occurs here features prominently in national discourses about identity, civilization and the justification of British efforts to improve Africa.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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