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Edward Goodall’s ‘Sketches in British Guiana’: art, anthropography and colonialism in 19th century Amazonia

Dudley, Ian A (2017) Edward Goodall’s ‘Sketches in British Guiana’: art, anthropography and colonialism in 19th century Amazonia. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

This thesis examines sketched portraits of Amerindian peoples created by the English artist Edward Goodall during the 1841-1844 Boundary Survey of British Guiana, now Guyana, which was carried out by the German scientific explorer, Robert Schomburgk. The portraits formed part of a larger body of over 250 drawn and watercolour works labelled as Sketches in British Guiana, and carried out by Goodall in his role as official expedition illustrator. These sketches captured a wide range of geographical subjects, from botany, topography and zoology, to hydrography, geology and historical scenes of the expedition itself, in addition to the ethnographic representations upon which this thesis focuses, and which dominate the body in terms of their numbers and interest. The sketches were carried out in relation to the cartographic and geographical mapping and documenting of the Guayana territory and its peoples by Schomburgk as he moved across the disputed border regions between British Guiana and its neighbouring colonial states, Brazil, Venezuela and Surinam. Focusing on the works as a manifestation of the different subjective forces and ideologies at play within this colonial enterprise, I argue the portraits and Sketches more generally, exemplify art’s cooption as a tool of colonial reconnaissance, expansion and domination during the mid-nineteenth century, playing a key role in visualising the geographical colonization that Schomburgk’s Boundary Survey represented, capturing disputed inhabitants and their locales as they were inscribed onto British colonial maps, and substantiating British imperial claims over them. In essence, through Goodall’s work, Schomburgk sought to cultivate and performatively demonstrate knowledge of and control over Amerindians through their representation, which paralleled the way the Guayana landscape was brought into British guardianship, all under the aegis of Christian humanitarianism, scientific advance and national-imperial prestige.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: F History United States, Canada, Latin America > F1201 Latin America (General)
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > ND Painting
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Philosophy and Art History, School of
Depositing User: Ian Dudley
Date Deposited: 01 Aug 2017 09:52
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2017 09:58
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/20121

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