Article ID: CBB218856947

Globalizing the Savage: From Stadial Theory to a Theory of Luxury in Late-18th-Century Swedish Discussions of Africa (2019)


This article examines the effects of globalization on changing notions of the ‘savage’. We compare discussions taking place in different contexts in the late 18th century concerning two Swedish scholars and travellers to Africa: Anders Sparrman (1748–1820), a naturalist and Linnaean disciple, and Carl Bernhard Wadström (1746–99), an engineer and economist. Both moved in Swedish Swedenborgian circles, and both became involved in the British abolitionist movement. Nevertheless, their images of African ‘Others’ diverged in crucial respects, reflecting differences in their ideological outlooks, institutional affiliations, and understandings of how the world was changing. More specifically, we argue that the perception of global change brought about by a new economic framework of production and consumption provides a key for reading and comparing Wadström’s and Sparrman’s texts. Comparing their divergent uses of ‘savagery’, the article also highlights the versatility of the savage as a tool for presenting distant parts of the world to a domestic audience.

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Article Bruce Buchan; Linda Andersson Burnett (2019) Knowing Savagery: Humanity in the Circuits of Colonial Knowledge. History of the Human Sciences (pp. 3-7). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Dyrssen, David
Tilley, Helen
Rönnbäck, Klas
Wibeck, Victoria
Gradmann, Christoph
Asdal, Kristin
Science in Context
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Slavery and Abolition: A Journal of Slave and Post-Slave Studies
Public Understanding of Science
Minerva: A Review of Science, Learning and Policy
Journal of Global History
Pickering & Chatto
Cambridge University Press
Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study
Duke University Press
Cornell University Press
The University of Chicago Press
Globalization; internationalization
Public health
Cross-cultural interaction; cultural influence
AIDS (disease)
Scientific expeditions
Sparrman, Anders
Linnaeus, Carolus
Wadström, Carl Bernhard
Thunberg, Carl Peter
Polanco, Juan Alfonso de
Time Periods
18th century
19th century
20th century
20th century, early
21st century
20th century, late
United States
Scandinavia; Nordic countries
Uppsala Universitet
Jesuits (Society of Jesus)

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