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Flora Tasmaniae: Tasmanian naturalists and imperial botany, 1829-1860


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Cave, EC 2012 , 'Flora Tasmaniae: Tasmanian naturalists and imperial botany, 1829-1860', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This thesis examines the practices of botanical collectors in nineteenthcentury
Van Diemen’s Land, their involvement in the Flora Tasmaniae and their
contribution to broader scientific debates. When Joseph Hooker wrote his
introductory essay on the Australian flora for Flora Tasmaniae in 1859, it was the
first published case study supporting Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection.
Much of Hooker’s evidence for his essay was based on plant material collected by
self-trained resident naturalists of Van Diemen's Land, including Robert
Lawrence, Ronald Gunn and William Archer. In recent years Darwin, Hooker and
their contemporaries have been thoroughly examined, but as yet there has been
little concentration upon the colonial collectors who contributed to their research.
Instead of a centre-periphery study, this thesis provides a periphery-centre
focus, exploring the role of the colonial naturalists, their contribution to the
development of scientific knowledge, and the realities of operating as naturalists
in the Antipodes. This thesis argues that resident colonial collectors in Van
Diemen's Land made a significant contribution to botanical science during a time
of taxonomic and classificatory flux.
By using correspondence, journals, plant specimens and collecting notes
this thesis examines one facet of a larger imperial movement. Analysis of these
sources demonstrates the nuances of the colonial scientific experience, how
knowledge was gained, how contacts and friendships were made and sustained,
and what sort of work self-trained enthusiasts undertook. Numerous men and
women contributed to a broad discussion on the native flora and fauna, including landed gentlemen, medical men, public servants and convicted criminals. As the
Flora grew from their efforts, colonists questioned the source of power in the
scientific world. This thesis discusses these changing tensions, and how those
with a deeper local understanding balanced their colonial knowledge with the
views of those in the metropole.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Cave, EC
Keywords: botany-Tasmania, Tasmania-history, naturalists, Ronald Gunn, William Archer
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