ahorbinski: A picture of Charles Darwin captioned "very gradual change" in the style of the Obama 'Hope' poster.  (Darwin is still the man.)
Bibliographic Data: Fan, Fa-Ti. British Naturalists in Qing China: Science, Empire, and Cultural Encounter. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004.

Main Argument: This book "attempts to explain how Western (especially British) naturalists in China and their Chinese 'associates' explored, studied, and represented China's natural world in both local and global contexts" (2), employing the concept of "contact zone" or "borderlands" to "denote the intersecting zone between the temporal and spatial trajectories of peoples of different geographic origins, cultures, and histories" (3).

Historiographical Engagement:  Empire theorists and historians, naturalists, historians of science

British naturalists in Qing China )

Critical assessment: I wish this book were longer and went into more detail, and that some of my favorite books on the same general topic, such as Hevia's English Lessons, had been around for him to reference and dialogue with when he was writing. That said, it's excellent, both for the dimensions it illuminates and for his insistence that reading the process of empire as entirely one-sided is incorrect.

Further reading: Marie Brennan, A Natural History of Dragons; James Hevia, The Imperial Security State

Meta notes: No man is an empire, entire of itself.

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Andrea J. Horbinski

August 2017

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