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Osiris. 2000;15:135-51.

Acclimatizing the world: a history of the paradigmatic colonial science.

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  • Department of History, University of California, Santa Barbara 93106-9410, USA.


This paper examines the institutions, personages, and the theories that informed acclimatization activities in nineteenth-century France, England, and the two colonies of Algeria and Australia. Treating acclimatization as a scientific concept and activity the essay begins with the conditions of its emergence in Enlightenment France. Subsequent sections trace the growth of the acclimatization movement and its translation to the British context, and consider reasons for its decline in the last third of the nineteenth century. Efforts are made to show why many perceived acclimatization to be the paradigmatic colonial science with applications as diverse as agriculture, settlement schemes, field sports, and human health. Emphasis falls on the French and British cultural spheres, as these were the dual epicenters of both modern colonialism and organized acclimatization activity.

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