Impure and worldly geography
This thesis provides a theoretical and historical examination of the production of contested colonial-geographical knowledge. Following a critical examination of recent 'contextual' histories of geography, it is proposed that treating geographical knowledge as colonial discourse is a more fruitful line of inquiry, and the emergence of post-colonial and colonial discourse theory is discussed. This leads on to a consideration of post-structuralist theories of textuality, discourse, and reading, as the preliminary to an analysis of the archive of the regular published knowledge of the Royal Geographical Society from 1831 to 1873. The racialised representation of non-European societies and subjects denies to them any status as active subjects of knowledge or history. It is found that the sanctioned geographical knowledge produced by the R.G.S. in the mid-nineteenth century depends for its identity on the construction of certain geographical knowledges, meanings, and practices as improper and inadequate. It is argued that the writing of geographical discovery thus involved the discursive dispossession of non-European societies of authority over geographical knowledge and territory.