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The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume V: Historiography$
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Robin Winks

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205661

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205661.001.0001

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Exploration and Empire

Exploration and Empire

(p.290) 18 Exploration and Empire
The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume V: Historiography

Robert A. Stafford

Oxford University Press

As British exploration boomed during the 1850s and 1860s under the aegis of the Royal Geographical Society’s (RGS) President Sir Roderick Murchison, explorers’ narratives (especially David Livingstone’s) sold in unprecedented numbers. The third volume of the Cambridge History of the British Empire implied that Britain’s exploration of the Niger, Nile, and Zambezi rivers justified subsequent annexation of their drainages. The 1990s have seen both the continuation of established trends and new developments. Population growth and environmental degradation can only increase interest in what were once blank spots on the map and the process by which they were incorporated into Europe’s economy and consciousness. Historians, therefore, will no doubt continue to work in the areas of study recently mapped out — regional, environmental, biographical, cultural, spatial, artistic, and organizational. Exploration has always been a complex cultural activity; its history remains so, influenced by changing trends, but continuously deepening our understanding of the motivations and consequences of those most unusual men and women compelled to go where others had not.

Keywords:   British exploration, British Empire, Royal Geographical Society, economy, Britain, history

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