Article ID: CBB373646855

James Petiver's ‘Kind Friends’ and ‘Curious Persons’ in the Atlantic World: Commerce, Colonialism and Collecting (2020)


In 1695, James Petiver concluded the first ‘century’ of his Musei Petiveriani by observing that he had received the specimens described within it from his ‘Kind Friends from divers parts of the World’ and ‘Curious Persons … Abroad’. This essay examines Petiver's network of such ‘Kind Friends’ and ‘Curious Persons’ in the Atlantic World. The composition of Petiver's network reflected many of the broader patterns of English commerce in the Atlantic at the turn of the eighteenth century. Moreover, England's growing overseas empire and its expanding commercial activity required a parallel expansion in maritime labour. Mariners were correspondingly central to Petiver's work as a naturalist and collector in the region. The importance of slavery and the slave trade to Atlantic economic and social structures meant that the naturalist relied on the institutions, infrastructures and individuals of the slave trade and plantation slavery. A social history of Petiver's Atlantic network reveals how the naturalist utilized the routes of commerce and colonialism to collect specimens, as well as to collect the correspondents who might provide them from West Africa, Spanish America, the Caribbean and mainland North America. It demonstrates the entangled histories of commerce, colonialism, collecting and the production of natural knowledge.

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Article Richard Coulton (2020) ‘What he hath gather'd together shall not be lost’: remembering James Petiver. Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science (pp. 189-211). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Schiebinger, Londa L.
Parrish, Susan Scott
Irving, Sarah
MacLeod, Roy M.
Mylander, Jennifer
Longair, Sarah
Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science
William and Mary Quarterly
Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences
Journal of the History of Ideas
University of North Carolina Press
Harvard University Press
Pickering & Chatto
Manchester University Press
Oxford University Press
Johns Hopkins University Press
Great Britain, colonies
Slavery and slaves
Natural history
Collectors and collecting
Science and society
Petiver, James
Sloane, Hans
Schomburgk, Robert Hermann
Vincent, Levinus
Vlockamer, Johann Georg
Plukenet, Leonard
Time Periods
17th century
18th century
19th century
20th century
20th century, early
Early modern
Great Britain
Atlantic world
London (England)
Atlantic Ocean
Royal Society of London
East India Company (English)

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