The Codification of Natural History: From Observation to Inspection

  • Aaron James Henry


This chapter focuses on how the social vision of the HBC naturalist formed some of the preconditions of district-inspection. The chapter argues that the categories that had made up the Linnaean system of classification became the categories through which the district was inspected. This argument is developed by first examining the journals of HBC employees and naturalists, Peter Fidler and David Thompson, to show how the eighteenth-century observational registers provided the categories that would structure the district report. The chapter then demonstrates how the company mobilized the district report to rationalize the company’s rule over the newly leased “Indian Lands” in 1821. Through this study, I argue that although the district report initially emerged to rationalize the company’s costs of administration, it soon became a more encompassing practice that was used to individualize and document indigenous hunters.


Journals Observational conduct District-inspection Records Naturalists 

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aaron James Henry
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Political EconomyCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada

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