This collection of essays assesses the interrelationship between exploration, empire-building and science in the opening up of the Pacific Ocean by Europeans between the early 16th and mid-19th century.
It explores both the role of various sciences in enabling European imperial projects in the region, and how the exploration of the Pacific in turn shaped emergent scientific disciplines and their claims to authority within Europe. Drawing on a range of disciplines (from the history of science to geography, imperial history to literary criticism), this volume examines the place of science in cross-cultural encounters, the history of cartography in Oceania, shifting understandings of race and cultural difference in the Pacific, and the place of ships, books and instruments in the culture of science.
It reveals the exchanges and networks that connected British, French, Spanish and Russian scientific traditions, even in the midst of imperial competition, and the ways in which findings in diverse fields, from cartography to zoology, botany to anthropology, were disseminated and crafted into an increasingly coherent image of the Pacific, its resources, peoples, and histories.
This is a significant body of scholarship that offers many important insights for anthropologists and geographers, as well as for historians of science and European imperialism.