Geoscience Reference
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(Selous 1881, 1893a, 1893b; Tidrick 1990:48-87). Selous collected extensively for
natural history museums and gained widespread recognition for his scientific
services. Hunting not only provided useful knowledge; it was said to symbolise certain
national characteristics. Like Cecil Rhodes, Selous used the supposed superiority of
the white, Anglo-Saxon race as justification for colonisation in Africa. For men like
Selous and Peel the white hunter and adventurer represented a type of energetic,
pioneering Englishman upon which empire depended.
Such sentiments were thus reflected in Peel's Museum, which was laid out to
provide visitors with a tour of the geography of empire and its natural history, the
latter represented in naturalistic displays and straightforward hunting trophies.
Arguing that big-game hunting 'exercises all the faculties which go to make a man
most manly', Peel hoped that his trophies would inspire young men to go out and
'do good service to the Empire' (Peel 1906:4-6). The attempt of such hunters to
put displays of animals to the service of empire signals some of the ways in which
the natural world was constructed through forms of colonial imagination during the
Victorian and Edwardian eras.
The entangled historical geography of just one giraffe, as an animal and colonial
object with mutable meanings (Thomas 1991), provides a useful entry-point to this
chapter, which focuses on aspects of the geography of 'wildlife' in British colonial
Africa in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As part of a larger project
on the uses of photography within British colonialism (Ryan 1997), it pays
particular attention to how photography was used in parallel with practices of
hunting and taxidermy to capture and to reproduce 'wild' animals. It emphasises
how such practices were inter-related and bound up with broader discourses of
'nature', 'colonialism' and 'preservation'. In so doing it draws on recent work
elucidating the cultural geographies of nature and spaces of human—animal
relations (Anderson 1995; Philo 1995; Whatmore and Thorne 1998; Wilson 1992;
Wolch and Emel 1995). Such work points usefully to how human—animal relations
are mediated by a range of cultural practices and formed through a spectrum of
spatial settings and processes. Thus this chapter seeks to show how particular
practices of hunting and photography, enacted in colonial African territories,
constructed the 'wildness' of African animals—especially animals known as 'big-
game'—and landscape as part of an untouched world of pristine nature. Moreover,
such conceptualisations of wild nature as a space outside of human civilisation,
forged through discourses of hunting, photography and conservation, both reflected
and informed new kinds of colonial relations between Africans and Europeans,
humans and animals, and humans and the environment.
Capturing wildlife: photography and taxidermy
A number of writers on photography have noted how, in present-day Western
society, where taking photographs consists of 'loading', 'aiming' and 'shooting', the
camera has become a 'sublimation of the gun' (Sontag 1979:14-15). Yet few have
noted how this process of sublimation was well underway in the second half of the
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