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Joseph Banks: science, culture and the remaking of the Indo-Pacific world

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In this presentation I assess the findings of a one-year AHRC -funded project on the career of Sir Joseph Banks, naturalist on Cook’s first voyage and president of the Royal Society from 1778 to 1820. Against a view of Banks as a ‘centre of calculation’ participants reconsidered Banks as a connecting agent among existing imperial and scientific networks mobilising plants around the world and transforming British enterprises in the Indo-Pacific world. Participants also explored Banks after Cook, in a period between c.1780 and 1820 that is rarely discussed in the literature. During this period Banks fitted into a variety of networks of men and women engaged with the sciences, acted as an information manager and broker, and managed a diverse collection of botanical and personal images and texts. Participants doubted that he followed a coherent agenda in these activities.

This talk is part of the Cabinet of Natural History series.

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