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    Exploring tropical nature in British Guiana : RBG, Kew's collections revisited

    Albuquerque, Sara Manuela (2013) Exploring tropical nature in British Guiana : RBG, Kew's collections revisited. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    Abstract

    This thesis explores the collected materials associated with Everard im Thurn (1852-1932) gathered during the late nineteenth century in British Guiana, especially held by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, but also in the Pitt Rivers Museum (Oxford), the British Museum, the Royal Anthropological Institute and the Royal Geographical Society, using meticulous archival research and specific objects in the collection as a way into finding the histories and stories which contributed to the making of the collection. Thus, this thesis provides a historical reconstruction of the collection, which traces objects through time and space, discussing their changing meanings. The sources used here include not only materials from the archives, but also published works, the herbarium specimens, objects and raw materials themselves, photographs and secondary sources. This involves a methodological challenge of tracing the trajectories of particular objects and cross-referencing them with several sources. In addition, this thesis also contributes to the history of a neglected are of the British Empire, which was in fact neglected even in im Thurn’s time: British Guiana. This thesis seeks to locate im Thurn and his collection within an imperial framework, including collaboration with colleagues in British Guiana and Britain, in order to show the multi-faceted work and collection over time. Following a contextualization of the present work in terms of the academic literature and a brief biography of im Thurn, Chapter 1 sets up the methodological approach, including the chosen manner of understanding the collections: ‘object biographies’. Chapter 2 turns to specific objects, setting them in historical and contemporary context, using both archival sources and recent trip to Guyana, discussing aspects of im Thurn’s collecting practices, and seeking o restore the ‘cross-cultural histories’ which these objects represent. Chapter 3 uses the Colonial and Indian Exhibition of 1886 as a case study to demonstrate how British Guiana was represented in Britain at the time, and also how im Thurn sought to manoeuvre that representation. Hitherto unknown photographs held by Kew are considered in Chapter 4, including not only the ones taken by im Thurn, but also those taken by the Norton Brothers and George Samuel Jenman. Chapter 5 discusses the role of im Thurn’s wife, Hannah, in her husband’s work as well as her contribution towards the making of his collections. The thesis concludes with an overview of the Amerindian objects through time and space, as well as a summary of the thesis and its contribution.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Thesis
    Additional Information: Originally submitted to the Department of Cultures and Languages, School of Arts.
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2023 10:16
    Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 15:58
    URI: https://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/50419
    DOI: https://doi.org/10.18743/PUB.00050419

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