Swedish Research Council grant for Bruce Buchan, RDHP/RCDH’s next visitor

The Rediscovering the Deep Human Past Program/Research Centre for Deep History team is very excited about the visit by Bruce Buchan, an intellectual historian, from Griffith University early next year. Bruce’s visit to the School of History was enabled by the generosity of the visiting fellowship scheme at the Research School of Social Sciences.

Bruce and colleague, Linda Andersson Burnett, from Linnaeus University, have recently been awarded funding by the Swedish Research Council to undertaken a new four year project “Collecting Mankind: Prehistory, Race and Instructions for ‘Scientific Travellers’, circa 1750-1850”.

This research project will be the first investigation of the emergence of the concept of race from a hitherto neglected transnational history of instructed scientific travel, collection, and museum displays of peoples deemed “prehistoric”. The project will explain why and how the amorphous Enlightenment concept of race hardened into categories of racial hierarchy at the same time as the notion of prehistory also began to take hold in European scientific thought before 1850.

As Bruce commented on receiving news of the grant, “The timing could not be better”, given next year’s 250th commemoration of James Cook’s colonial legacy in the Pacific. He noted that overnight the British Government has been called the largest receiver of stolen goods in the world and that calls for apologies, reparations and compensation for slavery and colonial atrocities were mounting.

The RDHP/RCDH team congratulate Bruce and Linda on this outstanding achievement and look forward to Bruce’s forthcoming visit.