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“None of them could say they ever had seen them, but only had it from others”: encounters with animals in Eighteenth-century natural histories of Greenland

Parish, H. (2020) “None of them could say they ever had seen them, but only had it from others”: encounters with animals in Eighteenth-century natural histories of Greenland. Animals, 10 (11). 2024. ISSN 2076-2615

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To link to this item DOI: 10.3390/ani10112024

Abstract/Summary

The pages of early modern natural histories expose the plasticity of the natural world, and the variegated nature of the encounter between human and animal in this period. Descriptions of the flora and fauna reflect this kind of negotiated encounter between the world that is seen, that which is heard about, and that which is constructed from the language of the sacred text of scripture. The natural histories of Greenland that form the basis of this analysis exemplify the complexity of human-animal encounters in this period, and the intersections that existed between natural and unnatural, written authority and personal testimony, and culture, belief, and ethnography in natural histories. They invite a more nuanced understanding of the ways in which animals and people interact in the making of culture, and demonstrate the contribution made by such texts to the study of animal encounters, cultures, and concepts. This article explores the intersection between natural history and the work of Christian mission in the eighteenth century, and the connections between personal encounter, ethnography, history, and oral and written tradition. The analysis demonstrates that European natural histories continued to be anthropocentric in content and tone, the product of what was believed, as much as what was seen.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Early Modern Research Centre (EMRC)
Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > History
ID Code:93793
Publisher:MDPI

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