Colonial science and military service: The West India Regiments and circum-Atlantic networks of knowledge, c.1815-c.1900
September 2021 start. University of Warwick: PI Professor David Lambert and Dr James Poskett
This PhD project focuses on the role of the West India Regiments (WIR) in projects of circum-Atlantic colonial science, particularly exploration, botany and ethnology, in the nineteenth-century British Empire. Based at the University of Warwick in partnership with the Society and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the project sits at the interface of histories of science, empire and the military. The project also seeks to contribute to the ‘decolonisation’ of scholarly collections and academic knowledge. This is because the WIRs occupy a unique place in the history of British Empire in that they were a regular part of the British army but were almost entirely comprised of men of African descent.
The WIRs were first established in the 1790s and served across the Caribbean and later West Africa. Across and within these regions, their personnel participated in the collection, exchange, circulation and publication of colonial knowledge. Some of these practices were directly related to Britain’s military needs, while others were pursued privately in correspondence with metropolitan learned societies and organisations such as the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Royal Geographical Society. Ordinary soldiers too participated in the ‘hidden histories’ of circum-Atlantic colonial science. The project will draw extensively on the collections of both the Society and the Royal Botanic Gardens, as well as others including the National Army Museum and The National Archives, plus archives in Jamaica and Barbados, which were the principal headquarters of the 1st and 2nd West India Regiments respectively.
Research by Peter Martin
Hidden Histories of Exploration: Exhibiting Geographical Collections. Research by Lowri Jones
Instruments of scientific governance? Historical geographies of Halley Bay, 1956-present. Research by Alice Oates
Speculation, Synthesis and the British Culture of Exploration. Research by Natalie Cox
By placing a booking, you are permitting us to store and use your (and any other attendees) details in order to fulfil the booking.
We will not use your details for marketing purposes without your explicit consent.
You must be a member holding a valid Society membership to view the content you are trying to access. Please login to continue.
Join us today, Society membership is open to anyone with a passion for geography
Cookies on the RGS website