Skip to main content

Distributed for Reaktion Books

Picturing Tropical Nature

Whether considered a sublime landscape, malignant wilderness, or the endangered site of environmental conflicts, the tropics are, Picturing Tropical Nature argues, largely a construct of American and European imaginations. 

Nancy Leys Stephan asserts that images of the tropics conveyed through drawings, paintings, photographs, literature, and travel writings are central to what Stepan calls the “tropicalization of nature,” or the often harmful misrepresentation of the tropics and its peoples. She here examines several aspects of such tropicalization as they emerge through the work of nineteenth- and twentieth-century scientists and artists, including Alexander von Humboldt, Alfred Russel Wallace, Louis Agassiz, Sir Patrick Manson, and Margaret Mee. From the earliest photographic attempts to represent tropical hybrid races to depictions of disease in new tropical medicines, Picturing Tropical Nature offers new insight into the convergence of the tropics with European and American science and art. 

“A brilliant and provocative book . . . the kind of book that carries forward a field in a single stride . . . undoubtedly the finest account of ‘tropicality’ we have.”—Social History of Medicine

288 pages | 89 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2001

Picturing History

Biological Sciences: Tropical Biology and Conservation

History: History of Ideas

Travel and Tourism: Tourism and History

Reaktion Books image

View all books from Reaktion Books

Table of Contents

1.  Going to the Tropics
2.  An Evolutionist’s Tropics
3.  Racial Degenerations
4.  Racial Transformations
5.  The New Tropical Pathology
6.  Appearances and Disappearances
7.  Tropical Modernism
Photographic Acknowledgements

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press