Table of Contents
Jonathan DeCoster: “Have You Not Heard of Florida?” Jean Ribault, Thomas Stukeley, and the Dream of England's First Overseas Colony, pp. 397–422
English overseas colonialism is generally traced to the anti-Catholic and anti-Spanish ideologies of Richard Hakluyt, Humphrey Gilbert, and other exponents in the 1570s and 1580s. This article puts Florida at the forefront of English colonialism by taking seriously Thomas Stukeley's proposed colonisation expedition in 1563. The focus on the 1560s reveals how a dynastic rivalry with France, rather than a religious rivalry with Spain, gave birth to England's first colonial impulse. Jean Ribault, well known as the founder of French Florida, serves as the connecting link between Florida and England. His previously unappreciated role in European diplomacy unwittingly turned his fledgling colony into a pawn to be traded among France, Spain, and England. Furthermore, Queen Elizabeth's interest in joining the race for colonies may have been fuelled more by her desire to regain Calais from the French than to plant settlers in America. But while her motives may well have been cynical, the English public for the first time began to see itself as a colonising people. The end result was that Florida not only emerged as part of the fountainhead of English colonialism, but also came to play an important role in European politics.
Mahmood Kooria: Does the Pagan King Reply? Malayalam Documents on the Portuguese Arrival in India, pp. 423–442
This article is a response to Sebastian Prange's essay in Itinerario 41, no. 1 (2017): 151–173 wherein he presented a ‘virtually unknown manuscript’ on the Portuguese arrival in India as an Indian voice, unheard in the existing historiography. Prange had consulted the English translation of a Malayalam text by John Wye, that the former had assumed to be lost. However its original palm-leaf manuscript (ōla) is kept at the British Library. This ōla, entitled Kēraḷa Varttamānam, brings to light some remarkable omissions and a few discrepancies in Wye's translation. Closely reading different manuscripts in Malayalam, Arabic, and English I argue that this ōla is in fact a translation of a sixteenth-century Arabic text, Tuḥfat al-mujāhidīn, well known among scholars of its place and period. Taking it a step ahead, I argue that the very existence of this text points towards the cross-cultural and cross-linguistic interactions between the Arabic and Malayalam spheres of premodern Malabar. The ōla demonstrates one of the first instances of Malayalam literature's engagement with a secular and historical theme as the arrival of the Portuguese. In addition, Malayalam works such as Kēraḷōlpatti and Kēraḷa-paḻama are clear voices from Malabar on the Portuguese arrival and consequent episodes.
Rachel Winchcombe: Authenticating El Dorado: Frustrated Knowledge Production in Walter Ralegh's Discoverie of Guiana, pp. 443–465
This article takes a fresh approach to Walter Ralegh's published account of his voyage to Guiana, The Discoverie of the Large, Rich, and Bewtiful Empyre of Guiana (1596), using it as a case study through which to explore the fragility of sixteenth-century processes of knowledge production about new lands. The article revisits this famous account in order to scrutinise in more detail the types of evidence Ralegh used to support his claims that a rich and powerful empire lay ready to be conquered by the English in the Amazon. This new analysis of Ralegh's narrative highlights the continued centrality of reputational models of authority in early modern travel literature and examines the types of evidence that could be employed by writers to support their suppositions when witness testimony was lacking. Ralegh's narrative illustrates that systems of knowledge production centred on the New World were, at the end of the sixteenth century, still in a state of flux. New ideas about what constituted credible knowledge, from firsthand experience to the collection of material artefacts, competed with older frameworks of authentication and authority. By examining knowledge production in frustration, and by dissecting Ralegh's failure to present a believable vision of El Dorado, this article throws into starker relief the many pitfalls and difficulties that beset those who attempted to present new and credible knowledge about the New World.
Martin Crevier: The Making of a Timber Colony: British North America, the Navy Board, and Global Resource Extraction in the Age of Napoleon, pp. 466–488
This article recounts the worldwide search for timber undertaken by the Navy Board, the administrative body under the authority of the Admiralty responsible for the supply of naval stores and the construction and repair of ships during the Napoleonic Wars. The closure of the Baltic by France and its European allies is considered the main factor in making British North America a timber colony. Yet the process through which the forests of the Laurentian Plateau and the North Appalachians came to fuel the dockyards of England and Scotland is taken for granted. To acquire this commodity, through merchants, diplomats, and commissioned agents, the power of the British state reached globally, reshaped ecological relationships, and integrated new landscapes to the Imperial economy. Many alternatives to the Baltic were indeed considered and tentatively exploited. Only a mixture of contingency, political factors, and environmental constraints forced the Board to contract in Lower Canada and New Brunswick rather than in areas such as the Western Cape, the Brazilian coast, or Bombay's hinterland.
Lachlan Fleetwood: Bodies in High Places: Exploration, Altitude Sickness, and the Problem of Bodily Comparison in the Himalaya, 1800–1850, pp. 489–515
Motivated by both science and empire, European explorers increasingly ventured into the high Himalaya after 1800, where they encountered the insidious yet little understood effects of altitude sickness. They did not, however, do so alone. Tensions arising from the highly unpredictable distribution of symptoms were exacerbated by explorers’ dependence on pre-existing networks of labour and expertise, which forced them to measure their bodies against those of their Asian companions. This article examines altitude physiology in the early nineteenth century, largely overlooked by scholars in favour of the more systematic scientific studies of the later period. I consider engagement with indigenous explanations (resulting from poisonous miasmas from plants), the tropes travellers used in their accounts to avoid inverting hierarchies around bodily performance, and attempts to quantify symptoms and instrumentalise bodies by measuring pulses. I argue that high mountains became spaces of comparison, intensified by uncertainty over the scientific status of altitude sickness, and use this to bring into focus the practical, everyday aspects of relationships between explorers, guides, and porters. By considering comparisons at multiple scales, this article also historicises the formulation of high mountain medical topographies in the context of upland frontiers and imperial expansion.
Emmanuel Nwafor Mordi: Nigerian Forces Comforts Fund, 1940–1947: “The Responsibility of the Nigerian Government to Provide Funds for the Welfare of Its Soldiers”, pp. 516–542
This study seeks to make an original contribution to the historiography of Africa and the Second World War. It examines the efforts of the Nigerian government and the British Army towards the welfare and comforts of Nigerian soldiers during their overseas services from 1940 to 1947. Their deployments in East Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia had brought the issue of their morale maintenance, namely comforts and welfare, to the fore. Extant Nigerian studies of the Second World War have been concerned with Nigerian contributions to Allied victory in terms of diverse economic exertions and those guided by charity towards Europeans affected by the German blitzkrieg, particularly in Britain. Consequently, this paper explains the genesis, objectives, and policy directions of the Nigerian Forces Comforts Fund and its impact on Nigerian servicemen's comforts and welfare. The study posits the argument that constant disagreements and indeed struggles for supremacy between the military and the civil power adversely affected troops’ comforts and welfare. Delayed postwar repatriation of the idle and bored troops to West Africa, in breach of openly proclaimed wartime promises, bred anxiety and made them prone to mutiny. The end of demobilisation in 1947 left many disgruntled ex-servicemen applying for reenlistment.