Traditionally, the secondary literature on nineteenth-century British ethnology-The predecessor to anthropology-has placed far too much emphasis on the armchair cogitations of researchers in Britain and not enough weight on the voyagers who collected their data in the field. This article reconsiders the history of British anthropology by expanding the discipline's scope beyond the armchair and examining the role of voyagers in the production of early nineteenth-century ethnological knowledge. At the core of this analysis is an investigation that seeks to understand how ethnographic observations were formed in the field. Using the voyage of the Adventure and Beagle to the Strait of Magellan between 1826 and 1830 as a case study, this paper focuses on the travel account of the commanding officer Phillip Parker King. During the voyage through South America, King recorded detailed descriptions of the cultural and physical attributes of "Patagonians"-To use his nineteenth-century descriptor.
- British ethnology
- Natural history
- Observational practices
- Phillip Parker King
- Voyage of the Adventure and Beagle