Producing and using the historical relation of Ceylon: Robert Knox, the East India Company and the Royal Society

Winterbottom, Anna (2009) Producing and using the historical relation of Ceylon: Robert Knox, the East India Company and the Royal Society. British Journal for the History of Science, 42 (4). pp. 515-538. ISSN 0007-0874

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Abstract

Robert Knox's An Historical Relation of the Island of Ceylon was produced, published and enlarged through the collaboration of the author with scholars including Robert Hooke and financial support from members of the East India Company. The Relation should be seen in the context of a number of texts collected, translated or commissioned by the East India Company in cooperation with the Royal Society during the late seventeenth century that informed and shaped both European expansion and natural philosophy. As well as circulating between European intellectual centres, often reorientated in the process of translation, these texts served as practical guides across settlements and trading posts abroad. Comparing written accounts with experience led to annotations and borrowings that served as the basis for further writings. Company records and Knox's own unpublished works reveal how the Relation was used as the basis for bio-prospecting for naturally occurring drugs and food sources and in efforts at agricultural transplantation spanning the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. Through the reports of seamen like Knox, such experiments contributed to contemporary theories concerning the effects of latitude on plant life.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS History of Asia > DS499 Sri Lanka
Depositing User: Anna Winterbottom
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 21:05
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2012 15:20
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/29457
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