Masters of All They Surveyed

Exploration, Geography, and a British El Dorado

D. Graham Burnett

Masters of All They Surveyed
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D. Graham Burnett

314 pages | 18 color plates, 33 halftones | 6-1/2 x 9-1/4 | © 2000
Cloth $67.00 ISBN: 9780226081205 Published September 2000
Paper $40.00 ISBN: 9780226081212 Published September 2001
Chronicling the British pursuit of the legendary El Dorado, Masters of All They Surveyed tells the fascinating story of geography, cartography, and scientific exploration in Britain's unique South American colony, Guyana. How did nineteenth-century Europeans turn areas they called terra incognita into bounded colonial territories? How did a tender-footed gentleman, predisposed to seasickness (and unable to swim), make his way up churning rivers into thick jungle, arid savanna, and forbidding mountain ranges, survive for the better part of a decade, and emerge with a map? What did that map mean?

In answering these questions, D. Graham Burnett brings to light the work of several such explorers, particularly Sir Robert H. Schomburgk, the man who claimed to be the first to reach the site of Ralegh's El Dorado. Commissioned by the Royal Geographical Society and later by the British Crown, Schomburgk explored and mapped regions in modern Brazil, Venezuela, and Guyana, always in close contact with Amerindian communities. Drawing heavily on the maps, reports, and letters that Schomburgk sent back to England, and especially on the luxuriant images of survey landmarks in his Twelve Views in the Interior of Guiana (reproduced in color in this book), Burnett shows how a vast network of traverse surveys, illustrations, and travel narratives not only laid out the official boundaries of British Guiana but also marked out a symbolic landscape that fired the British imperial imagination.

Engagingly written and beautifully illustrated, Masters of All They Surveyed will interest anyone who wants to understand the histories of colonialism and science.
Contents
Preface
1. Geography, Exploration, Colonial Territory: An Introduction
Point of Departure
The Lay of the Scholarly Land
A Sketch of the Route
The Destination: A Little Background on British Guiana
2. Myths and Maps: Making Explorers and Empires
Mythical Empire and Interior Exploration 1: Finding El Dorado
Mythical Empire and Interior Exploration 2: Reaching El Dorado
Remapping and the Making of Explorers
Remapping and the Making of Territory
The Other Mythical Empire: Mahanarva
Epilogue: The Ambivalence of Myth and Metalepsis
3. Traversing Terra Incognita: Getting There and Making Maps
Elusive Incognitae
Local Reorientation and Disorientation
Mapping Terra Incognita: The Traverse and Its Weaknesses
Fixed Points 1: The Humboldtian Tradition
Fixed Points 2: Discipline and Navigation
Fixed Points 3: Landmark, Image, Enclosure
4. Marks on the Land: Landmarks, Aesthetics, and the Image of the Colony
Views in Context: Writing the Journey
Views and Strategies of Imperial Visibility
Pictorial Conventions and Landmark Depictions
Schomburgk, Bentley, and the Aesthetic Saturation of Sites
Aesthetic Circuits
From Landmark to Icon
Epilogue: Widespread Views
5. Marks of Passage: Landmarks and the Practice of Geographical Exploration
Re-viewed
Tracks of Passage
Landmarks and Methexis
Amerindian Negotiations
Icarian Anxieties: The Fall as Landmark
Pictorial Conventions and Exploratory Subversions
Epilogue: Place and Erasure
6. Boundaries: The Beginnings of the Ends
Disputed Boundaries/Disputed Man
Delimination, Demarcation, "Deconstruction"?
Consummatio, Landmarks, and the "Natural" Boundary
Traversing the Boundary: The Surpassing Problem
Narrative Part 1: Northwest
Narrative Part 2: Southwest
Narrative Part 3: East
Epilogue: The Wake of the Boundary
7. Conclusion: History, Geography, Nation
Up to This Point
And Over the Line
Epigram
Bibliography
Index
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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