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Frontiers of ScienceImperialism and Natural Knowledge in the Gulf South Borderlands, 1500-1850$
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Cameron B. Strang

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469640471

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469640471.001.0001

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Knowledge, Weakness, and Narrative in the Late Eighteenth Century

Knowledge, Weakness, and Narrative in the Late Eighteenth Century

(p.75) 2 Knowledge, Weakness, and Narrative in the Late Eighteenth Century
Frontiers of Science

Cameron B. Strang

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter covers intellectual life among European, native, and African-descended peoples in the Gulf South from the 1760s to the 1790s. Spain had sovereignty from Florida to Louisiana during this period, yet Spaniards were also one of many groups in the region that were too weak to control the flow of information or reliably benefit from it. The chapter’s first two sections analyze how Spanish officials struggled to understand the region and use its resources to bolster imperial power. The three following cases concern, respectively, the trial of enslaved blacks accused of poisoning an overseer, the efforts of a Florida planter to control the circulation of botanical knowledge, and a mineralogical expedition in which a Hitchiti Indian shaped scientific knowledge through monster stories. All of these individuals packaged knowledge in narratives that reflected and perpetuated the crossing of cultural boundaries.

Keywords:   narrative, storytelling, scientific expeditions, botany, natural history, poison, African knowledge, slavery, Hitchiti Indians

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