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Shipwreck and salvage in the tropics: the case of HMS Thetis, 1830–1854

Driver, F. and Martins, Luciana (2006) Shipwreck and salvage in the tropics: the case of HMS Thetis, 1830–1854. Journal of Historical Geography 32 (3), pp. 539-562. ISSN 0305-7488.

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In 1830, the British frigate HMS Thetis was wrecked at Cabo Frio, on the Brazilian coast. A British naval force was subsequently despatched to undertake a major salvage operation which lasted for well over a year. The substantial textual and visual archive associated with the case of the Thetis raises wider questions about the entanglement of naval, scientific, artistic, financial and legal concerns in an age of British maritime expansion. If the loss of such a ship brought into question the capacity of the British to act at a distance, it also provided an opportunity to mend and strengthen the networks of power and knowledge. The sources of error exposed by the disaster were to be subject to investigation by numerous authorities, including hydrographers keen to refine their charts and sailing directions and Fellows of the Royal Society seeking to advance the claims of science, as well as the Admiralty itself, in the judicial setting of a court martial. We focus here especially on narratives of the wreck and the salvage of the Thetis, and the significance of their repeated tellings of the story after the event; and on the evidential and representational status of the visual images of the scene in sketches, maps, charts, diagrams, engravings and paintings.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Historical Geography. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Historical Geography 32(3), July 2006, DOI: 10.1016/j.jhg.2005.10.010
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Shipwreck, visual image, narrative, tropics, Royal Society, Thetis, Brazil
School: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Arts > History of Art
Research Centre: Birkbeck Knowledge Lab
Depositing User: Administrator
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2011 11:56
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2016 13:42

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