Cultures of Colonial Compilation: Collecting and Mapping Knowledge in Southern Africa, 1850-1910
Who compiled authoritative knowledge about colonial spaces in southern Africa, and what did their networks of correspondents and informants look like? How, and to what degree, did that same curated knowledge in turn define the territory both within and beyond its borders?
This project focuses on a few important individual ‘compilers’ within the major settler colonies and republics that preceded South Africa during the six decades prior to its formation in 1910. These compilers produced maps and books dealing with geography, geology, law, history, ethnography, and related topics that they hoped would become authoritative both locally and globally. In the process, these compilers networked amongst themselves and with others in European and American scientific and political circles, sometimes creating cycles of reinforcement for their work and further elevating their stature. In understanding these compilers, we can better understand broader scientific discourse in the age of empire, as well as the ways such individuals could bend perceptions of colonial spaces (intentionally or not) through their communications and publications.
1) “An Agent in Pretoria? Fred Jeppe, the Cartography of the Transvaal, and Imperial Knowledge before 1900,” The Cartographic Journal 55, no. 2 (2018): 111-20.
2) Colonial Survey and Native Landscapes in Rural South Africa, 1850-1913: The Politics of Space in the Cape and Transvaal. African Social Studies Series 33. Leiden: Brill, 2015
3) “The Returns of the King: The Case of Mphephu and Western Venda, 1899-1904,” Journal of Southern African Studies 39, no. 2 (2013): 271-91.