SCOTTISH MEDICAL ETHNOGRAPHY: COLONIAL TRAVEL, STADIAL THEORY AND THE NATURAL HISTORY OF RACE, c.1770–1805

BRUCE BUCHAN
2019 Modern Intellectual History  
AbstractThis paper will present a comparative analysis of the ethnographic writings of three colonial travellers trained in medicine at the University of Edinburgh: William Anderson (1750–78), Archibald Menzies (1754–1842) and Robert Brown (1773–1858). Each travelled widely beyond Scotland, enabling them to make a series of observations of non-European peoples in a wide variety of colonial contexts. William Anderson, Archibald Menzies and Robert Brown in particular travelled extensively in the
more » ... acific with (respectively) James Cook on his second and third voyages (1771–8), with George Vancouver (1791–5) and with Matthew Flinders (1801–3). Together, their surviving writings from these momentous expeditions illustrate a growing interest in natural-historical explanations for diversity among human populations. Race emerged as a key concept in this quest, but it remained entangled with assumptions about the stadial historical progress or "civilization" of humanity. A comparative examination of their ethnographic writings thus presents a unique opportunity to study the complex interplay between concepts of race, savagery and civilization in the varied colonial contexts of the Scottish Enlightenment.
doi:10.1017/s1479244319000076 fatcat:awpo7oqfprblte5kyqon4cvorm