Eponymy, encounters, and local knowledge in Russian place naming in the Pacific Islands, 1804-1830

Bronwen Douglas, Elena Govor

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    This history of Russian place naming in the Pacific Islands from 1804 to 1830 systematically juxtaposes, correlates, and compares toponyms inscribed in varied genres of Russian texts: Map, atlas, journal, narrative, and hydrographic treatise. Its empirical core comprises place names bestowed or recorded by naval officers and naturalists in eastern and northern Pacific archipelagoes during expeditions led by the Baltic German circumnavigators Krusenstern (1803-6), Kotzebue (1815-18), Bellingshausen (1819-21), and Lütke (1826-9). We address the interplay of personality, precedent, circumstance, and embodied encounters in motivating voyagers' toponymic choices and their material expressions. We consider diverse textual movements from located experience, to specific inscription, to synthesis. Russian toponyms constituted part of the vast stock of historical raw material from which Krusenstern later created the authoritative pioneer Atlas de l'Oceán pacifique (1824-7). This toponymic focus is scaffolding for a dual ethnohistorical inquiry: Into the implications for Russian toponymy of Indigenous agency during situated encounters with people and places; and into the relative significance of loca'l knowledge conveyed to Russian voyagers by Indigenous interlocutors, and its presence or absence in particular sets of toponyms or different genres of text.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)709-740
    JournalThe Historical Journal
    Volume62
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2019

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