By Beth Fowkes Tobin

With its regulate of sugar plantations within the Caribbean and tea, cotton, and indigo creation in India, Britain within the eighteenth and 19th centuries ruled the worldwide economic climate of tropical agriculture. In Colonizing Nature, Beth Fowkes Tobin indicates how dominion over "the tropics" as either a area and an idea grew to become principal to the best way Britons imagined their function within the world.

Tobin examines georgic poetry, panorama portraiture, normal historical past writing, and botanical prints produced through Britons within the Caribbean, the South Pacific, and India to discover how every one performed a very important position in constructing the assumption that the tropics have been concurrently paradisiacal and short of British intervention and administration. Her examine examines how slave backyard pix denied the horticultural services of the slaves, how the East India corporation employed such artists as William Hodges to color and thereby Anglicize the panorama and gardens of British-controlled India, and the way writers from Captain James cook dinner to Sir James E. Smith depicted tropical lands and plants.

Just as mastery of tropical nature, and particularly its capability for agricultural productiveness, turned key innovations within the formation of British imperial identification, Colonizing Nature means that highbrow and visible mastery of the tropics—through the production of artwork and literature—accompanied fabric appropriations of land, exertions, and normal assets. Tobin convincingly argues that the depictions of tropical vegetation, gardens, and landscapes that circulated within the British mind's eye supply a key to knowing the forces that formed the British Empire.

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Extra resources for Colonizing Nature: The Tropics in British Arts and Letters, 1760-1820

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The peasant-farmer’s virtue lies in his toil and sweat while the poetfarmer’s virtue lies in his intellectual mastery of nature. The poet-farmer differentiates himself from the peasant-farmer’s hard work and innocent pleasures by imagining his own relationship to nature in a very different way. While the peasant pursues his daily life of direct cultivation of the farmland, the poet-farmer says, “For my own part my chiefest prayer would be” to have the muses “teach me to know . . the causes of things” (:, ), to understand such things as the movement of the stars, the tides of the oceans, the variations in the patterns of daylight and nighttime.

Arcadia, the magical land of ease, where leisured nymphs and swains frolic and dally, belongs to the realm of pastoral poetry. Banks’s pastoral vision—Tahiti as the Garden of Eden—blinded him to the reality that Tahitians labored to produce breadfruit. 6 It is my intention to argue that some of the most powerful and influential of those representations can be found in English georgic poetry. ”7 In “Summer” the poet’s imagination leaves the bucolic English countryside to roam over the earth, describing nature’s animal and vegetable productions.

The third and fourth chapters focus on the visual representation of the subtropical landscape of the northern provinces and states of the Indian subcontinent. Chapter  examines the genre of the garden conversation piece, which traditionally in England was used to depict estate owners and their families seated informally in their parklike gardens. This chapter analyzes conversation pieces produced in India by British artists for their patrons, the officials of the British East India Company. To explain the popularity and significance of the garden conversation piece for India’s colonial elite, I focus on Johann Zoffany’s portrait of Warren Hastings and his wife on the grounds of their garden house.

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