James Cook's voyages of exploration are a turning point not only in the history of the British Empire, but also in the history of science and exploration of the Pacific. The last decades have seen a wide-ranging scholarly interest in Cook's voyages, focusing on their impact on European and Polynesian societies, their scientific results, and their protagonists, such as Cook himself or the nobleman Joseph Banks who took part in Cook's first voyage of exploration. This book examines the hitherto underestimated role of the German scholar Johann Reinhold Forster who, together with his son Georg Forster, accompanied Cook on his second voyage of exploration (1772–1775) as a principal naturalist.
For a long time, the German traveler has remained a rather shadowy figure of Cook's voyages of exploration and has only attracted scholarly attention occasionally. Focusing on the making of knowledge onboard the ship and the islands where it made landfall, the study provides a historical reappraisal of Forster's scientific performance as a leading naturalist of his time. By examining Forster's Resolution Journal, Anne Mariss takes a microhistorical approach toward the making of natural history knowledge during the expedition to the Pacific. Mariss unveils the difficulties the traveling naturalists encountered while collecting, describing, classifying, and painting the natural world. Her study brings to light the contribution of the various actors who were involved in this undertaking, such as the scientific assistants, sailors, officers, and the local actors of the Pacific world.
Chapter 1: James Cook’s Voyages of Exploration in the Pacific
Chapter 2: Natural History on Long-Distance Voyages in the Eighteenth Century
Chapter 3: Everyday Natural History on Board Cook’s Ships of Exploration
Chapter 4: Collaboration and Conflicts: Sailors and Experimental Gentlemen
Chapter 5: Competing Curiosities: The Collecting of Artefacts
Chapter 6: Bioprospecting and the Knowledge of Local Informants
Chapter 7: Naming and Classifying: Global Naming Practices
Chapter 8: Collecting and Preserving: The Material Precariousness of Natural Objects
Chapter 9: Natural History Avatars: The Drawing of Objects
Anne Mariss is assistant professor of early modern history at the University of Regensburg.
"This book is an essential complement to earlier edited works by, and on, the Forsters, and a final note by this reviewer would call attention to the remarkable number of helpful endnotes, in some cases citing works published only in the last year."
– Cook's Log
"This fascinating and meticulously researched book reminds us of the collaborative, multinational, and cross-cultural nature of maritime exploration and information gathering in the eighteenth-century Pacific Ocean. Remaining sensitive and attuned to the inherent imbalances of power in the process, Anne Mariss sheds new light on the local informants and ordinary sailors involved in Cook's voyages of exploration. And by focusing on Johann Reinhold Forster, the book offers an engaging and refreshing addition to the Anglophone scholarship on the subject, emphasising the continental European roots of the enterprise. This book will make a significant contribution to our understanding and appreciation of the Forsters, the father-and-son scientific team that embarked on Cook's second voyage, as well as European exploration in the Pacific more generally. The product of extensive research, Johann Reinhold Forster and the Making of Natural History on Cook's Second Voyage will appeal to scholars and students with interests in maritime history, the history of exploration, the history of science and Pacific history."
– John McAleer, University of Southampton