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Journal Article

The Colonial World as Geological Metaphor: Strata(gems) of Empire in Victorian Canada

Suzanne Zeller
Osiris
Vol. 15, Nature and Empire: Science and the Colonial Enterprise (2000), pp. 85-107
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/301942
Page Count: 23
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The Colonial World as Geological Metaphor: Strata(gems) of Empire in Victorian Canada
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Abstract

This essay highlights the experience of British North America during the Victorian age as a case study in the complex relationship between science and empire. It analyzes the development of geology as a Victorian (and highly imperialistic) science in colonial Canada, in three chronological phases. During each, the study of geology helped to structure an imperial-colonial dialogue that reflected changing mutual perceptions and relationships. As colonists undertook geological exploration and interpretation, they modified imperial institutions to suit their goals. They also absorbed the means by which to colonize other peoples and regions. In this sense, the quintessential Victorian science exerted powerful cultural influences, transforming new landscapes into readable texts that redefined the future.

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