Transcultural aspects of exploring and mapping South West Africa between 1850 and 1914
AbstractThis article examines the hybrid nature of the exploration of South West Africa in the second half of the 19 th century and in the early colonial period with the help of two case studies based on printed as well as archival source material. Both examples concentrate on the northern parts of what is today’s Namibia, since they eluded the mapping process and thus colonial control for a long time. The early exploration and mapping of the Cunene River in the 1850s and 1860s reveals different aspects of European and African spatial knowledge, miscommunication and contested resources. By the turn of the century, modes of travel writing changed in the course of scientific professionalization so that descriptions of transcultural encounters gave way to more academic topics. However, as Franz Seiner’s journey to the Caprivi Strip in the early years of the 20 th century demonstrates, modes of mapping remained similar and still yielded insights into geographical knowledge-making as a process involving interaction between Africans and Europeans.
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