Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Human Taxonomies: Carl Linnaeus, Swedish Travel in Asia and the Classification of Man

  • Christina Skott

Abstract

This article looks at ways in which Swedish travel to Asia informed the classification of man in the work of Carl Linnaeus. In the tenth edition of his Systema Naturae (1758), Linnaeus made substantial changes to his earlier taxonomy of humans. Through two case studies, it is argued that these changes to a great extent were prompted by fresh Swedish eyewitness reports from China and Southeast Asia. The informants for the Homo asiaticus, a variety of Homo sapiens, and a proposed new species of humans, Homo nocturnus (or troglodytes), were all associated with the Swedish East India Company. The botanical contribution by men trained in the Linnaean method travelling on the company's ships has long been acknowledged. In contrast to the systematic collecting of botanical material, Swedish descriptions of Asia's human inhabitants were often inconclusive, reflecting the circumstances of the trade encounter. Linnaeus also relied on older observations made by countrymen, and his human taxonomies also highlight the role of travel literature in eighteenth-century anthropology.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Footnotes

Hide All
*

Christina Skott is a Fellow Commoner, Director of Studies in History, and College Lecturer at Magdalene College, Cambridge, and an Affiliated Lecturer at the Faculty of History, University of Cambridge. Her publications have examined various aspects of European knowledge of Southeast Asia in the long early modern era, in particular the ways in which interaction with the region shaped European science and anthropology in the eighteenth century. Her present research interests include nineteenth-century economic botany, ecology, and colonial agriculture in the Malay Peninsula.

Footnotes

References

Hide All
Braad, Christian Hindrik. Historiske Anmärkningar om Bengala; Dess invånare, och närvarande Tillstånd. Åhr 1754. Uppsala University Library, Uppsala, Sweden.
Braad, C. F. “Curriculum Vitae.” Royal Library, Stockholm, Sweden.
Braad Collection. Helsinki University Library, Helsinki, Finland.
Andersen, Jürgen, and Iversen, Volquard. Orientalische Reise-Beschreibungen; in der Bearbeitung von Adam Olearius; hrsg. von Dieter Lohmeier. Tübingen, 1980. (Reprint of the 1669 edition.)
Bernier, François. “Nouvelle division de la Terre, par les differentes especes ou races d'hommes qui l'habitent.Journal des Scavans 24 April (1684): 148–55.
Blumenbach, J. F.On the Natural Varieties of Mankind.” In The Anthropological Treatises of Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, edited and translated by Bendyshe, Thomas, 145276. London: Longman, Roberts, & Green, 1865.
Bondt, Jacobus de. “Historiæ naturalis & medicæ Indiæ Orientalis.” In Gulielmi Pisonis De Indiæ utriusque re naturali et medica, libri quatuordecim. Amsterdam: Elzevier, 1658.
Bref och Skrifvelser af och till Carl von Linné Afd. 1. D. 2, Skrifvelser och Bref till K. Svenska Vetenskaps-Akademien och dess Sekreterare. Stockholm: Ljus, 1908.
Brelin, Johan. Beskrifning öfver en Äfventyrlig Resa til och ifrån Ost-Indien, Södra America, och en del af Europa, åren 1755, 56, och 57. Uppsala: Kongl. Acad tryckeriet, 1758.
Buffon, Georges Louis Leclerc. Natural History, general and particular. Vol. 14. London: T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1812.
Burnet, James (Lord Monboddo). On the Origin and Progress of Language. Vol. 1. Edinburgh: A. Kincaid & W. Creech, 1773.
Campanius Holm, Thomas. Kort beskrifning om provincien Nya Swerige uti America. Stockholm: Wankijfs Änkia, 1702.
Ekeberg, Carl Gustaf. Kort berättelse om den chinesiska landt-hushåldningen. Stockholm: L. L. Grefing, 1757.
Ekeberg, Carl Gustaf. Capitaine Carl Gustaf Ekebergs Ostindiska Resa, Åren 1770 och 1771. Beskrefven uti Bref till Kongl. Svenska Vet. Academiens Secreterare. Stockholm: H. F. Ekeberg, 1773.
Fontana, Nicolas. “On the Nicobar Isles and the Fruit of the Mellori.” Asiatic Researches 3 (1799): 292309.
Forster, Johann Reinhold. Observations Made During a Voyage Round the World, edited by Thomas, Nicholas, Guest, Harriet, and Dettelbach, Michael, with a linguistics appendix by Rensch, Karl H.. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1996.
Gethe, C. J. Dagbok hållen på resan till Ostindien 1746–1749, edited by Ryden, B.. Uppsala: Svenska Linnésällskapet, 1975.
Grill, J. A. Inträdes-tal, om orsakerna, hvarföre Chinas natural-historia är så litet bekant: Hållet för Kongl. vetenskaps academien, den 29 september 1773. Stockholm: L. Salvius, 1773.
Kalm, Pehr, Resejournal över resan till Norra Amerika, published by Kerkkonen, Martti and Roos, John E.. Vol. 2. Helsingfors: Svenska Litteratursällskapet i Finland, 1970.
Kiöping, Nils Matson. Een kort beskriffning uppå trenne resor och peregrinationer, sampt konungarijket Japan. Wisingsborgh: Johan Kankel, 1667.
Linnaeus, Carolus. Systema Naturae: Sive, Regna Tria Naturæ Systematice Proposita Per Classes, Genera, & Species. Leiden: Theodorum Haak, Ex Typographia Joannis Wilhelmi de Groot, 1735.
Linnaeus, Carolus. Systema Naturæ: Per Regna Tria Naturae, Secundum Classes, Ordines, Genera, Species, Cum Charateribus, Differentiis, Synonymis, Locis. 2 vols. Stockholm: L. Salvius, 1758–59.
Linnaeus, Carolus. Amoenitates Academicae: Seu Dissertationes Variae, Physicae, Medicae, Botanicae Antehac Tabulis Aeneis. Volumen sextum. Holmiae: L. Salvius 1763.
Linné, Carl. Menniskans cousiner (Anthropomorpha): Efterskrift och noter av Telemak Fredbärj. Uppsala: Svenska Linnésällskapet, 1955.
Montesquieu. The Spirit of the Laws, translated and edited by Cohler, Anne M., Miller, Basia Carolyn, and Stone, Harold Samuel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
Nieuhof, Johan. Voyages and Travels to the East Indies 1653–1670. With an introduction by Anthony Reid. Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1988.
Osbeck, Pehr. Dagbok Öfwer en Ostindisk Resa Åren 1750, 1751, 1752. Stockholm: L. L. Grefing, 1757.
Osbeck, Pehr. A Voyage to China and the East Indies: Together with a Voyage to Suratte by Olof Toreen and Account of the Chinese Husbandry by Captain Charles Gustavus Eckeberg. 2 vols. London: Benjamin White, 1771.
Pliny. Natural History. Vol. 2. Cambridge, Mass.: Loeb Classical Library, 1965.
Reinius, I. I. Journal hållen på resan till Canton i China … ifrån dess begynnelse åhr 1745 till dess slut åhr 1748, edited by Lunelund, B.. Helsingfors: Svenska Litteratursällskapet i Finland, 1939.
Tärnström, Christopher. Christopher Tӓrnstrӧms Journal: En resa mellan Europa och Sydostasien, år 1746, kommenterad och bearbetad av Kristina Söderpalm. London: IK Foundation, 2005.
Toreen, O.A Voyage to Suratte, China.” In Osbeck, P., A Voyage to China and the East Indies, vol. 2, 153266.
Torén, Olof. “En Ostindisk resa till Suratte, China &c. Från 1750 April I. Till 1752 Jun. 26.” In Osbeck, Pehr, Dagbok Öfwer en Ostindisk Resa.
Visme, S. de. Untitled notice, Philosophical Transactions 59 (1769), 72.
Willman, Olof Eriksson. En kort beskrivning på en resa till Ostindien och Japan, edited by Bernström, John and Wretö, Tore. Stockholm: T. Fischer, 1992.
Willman, Olof Eriksson. The Journal of Olof Eriksson Willman: From His Voyage to the Dutch East Indies and Japan, 1648–1654, translated and edited by Blomberg, C.. Leiden: Global Oriental, 2014.
The Linnaean Correspondence: www.alvin-portal.org
Adas, M. Machines as the Measure of Men: Science, Technology, and Ideologies of Western Dominance. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989.
Arne, T. J.Svenska läkare och fältskärer i holländska Ostindiska kompaniets tjänst.Lychnos (1956): 132–45.
Beekman, E. M., ed. and trans. The Ambonese Curiosity Cabinet: Georgius Everhardus Rumphius. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999.
Bendyshe, T.The History of Anthropology.Memoirs of the Anthropological Society of London (1863–4): 335458.
Blunt, Wilfrid. Carl von Linné. Stockholm: Bonnier, 2002.
Bretschneider, E. History of European Botanical Discoveries in China. Vol 1. London: Sampson Low, Marston and Co., 1898.
Broberg, Gunnar. Homo sapiens L.: Studier i Carl von Linnés naturuppfattning och människolära. Lychnos-Bibliotek 28. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1975.
Broberg, Gunnar. “Homo sapiens: Linnaeus's Classification of Man.” In Linnaeus: The Man and His Work, edited by Frängsmyr, Tore et al. , 156–94. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983.
Broberg, Gunnar, and Christensen-Nuges, Charlotte. “Homo sapiens: 250 Years as an Animal and a Moral Being.Svenska Linnésällskapets Årsbok (2009): 730.
Demel, Walter. “Wie Die Chinesen gelb wurden: Beitrag zur Früehgeschichte der Rassentheorien.” Historische Zeitschrift 255 (1992): 625–66.
Demel, Walter. “Constructing Racial Theories on the East Asians as Transnational ‘Western’ Enterprise, 1750–1850.” In Race and Racism in Modern East Asia vol. 2, edited by Kowner, Rotem and Demel, Walter, 5576. Leiden: Brill, 2015.
Dietz, Bettina. “Contribution and Co-production: The Collaborative Culture of Linnaean Botany.” Annals of Science 69:4 (2012): 551–69.
Dietz, Bettina. “What Is a Botanical Author? Pehr Osbeck's Travelogue and the Culture of Collaborative Publishing in Linnaean Botany.” In Linnaeus: Natural History and the Circulation of Knowledge, edited by Hodacs, Hanna et al. , 137–60. Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2018.
Dufrenoy, M. L.A Precursor of a Modern Anthropology: François Bernier (1620–1688).” Isis 41:1 (1950): 27–9.
Forsstrand, Carl. “Carl Gustaf Ekeberg, hans färder till Ostindien och Kina: Naturvetenskapliga intressen och förbindelser med Linné.Svenska Linnésällskapets Årsbok (1928): 147–61.
Fox Maule, A., and Hansen, C.. “Linnés korrespondance med Pehr Osbeck 1750–1753.Svenska Linnésällskapets Årsskrift (1972–1974): 75145.
Frängsmyr, Tore. Ostindiska Kompaniet: Människorna, äventyret och den ekonomiska drömmen. Höganäs: Förlags AB Wiken, 1976.
Frängsmyr, Tore, ed. Science in Sweden: The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, 1739–1989. Canton, Mass.: Science History Publications, 1989.
Frängsmyr, Tore. Sökandet efter upplysningen: En essä om 1700-talets svenska kulturdebatt. Höganäs: Wiken, 1993.
Franks, Jeremy. “The Observant Braad: A Swedish Enquirer in Gujarat in the 1750s.” Moyen Orient & Océan Indien 10 (1997): 155–82.
Gerlings, Jonas. “On the Use and Abuse of Natural History: Linnaean Science in Kant's Königsberg.” In Linnaeus: Natural History and the Circulation of Knowledge, edited by Hodacs, Hanna, Nyberg, Kenneth, and van Damme, Stéphane, 137–60.
Granroth, Christina. European Knowledge of Southeast Asia: Travel and Scholarship in the Early Modern Era. PhD diss., University of Cambridge, 2003.
Gustafsson, Anders. “Pehr Kalm och den Nya världen.Svenska Linnésällskapets Årsskrift (2008): 71116.
Hellman, Lisa. “Using China at Home: Knowledge Production and Gender in the Swedish East India Company, 1730–1800.” Itinerario 38:1 (2014): 3555.
Hodacs, H., and Nyberg, K.. Naturalhistoria på resande fot: Om att forska, undervisa och göra karriär i 1700-talets Sverige. Lund: Nordic Academic Press, 2007.
Hodacs, Hanna, Nyberg, Kenneth, and van Damme, Stéphane, eds. Linnaeus: Natural History and the Circulation of Knowledge. Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2018.
Hodgen, Margaret T. Early Anthropology in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1964.
Iperen, J. van, “Beskrifning på en hvit neger ifrån öen Bali”. In Samling af rön och uptäkter gjorde i senare tider uti physik, medicin, chirurgie, naturalhistoria. Götheborg, 1781.
Johannisson, Ture, ed. Nils Matson Kiöpings resa: Parallelltexter ur andra och tredje upplagorna. Stockholm: Svenska bokförlaget/Nordstedt, 1961.
Keevak, M. Becoming Yellow: A Short History of Racial Thinking. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011.
Kjellberg, S. T. Svenska Ostindiska Compagnierna, 1731–1813. 2 vols. Malmö: Allhem, 1973–1975.
Koerner, Lisbet. “Carl Linnaeus in His Time and Place.” In Cultures of Natural History, edited by Jardine, N., Secord, J. A., and Spary, E. C., 145–62. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
Koerner, Lisbet. Linnaeus: Nature and Nation. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999.
Koninckx, C. The First and Second Charters of the Swedish East India Company (1731–1766): A Contribution to the Maritime, Economic and Social History of North-Western Europe in Its Relationships with the Far East. Kortrijk: Van Ghemmert, 1980.
Kowner, Rotem, and Skott, Christina. “East Asians in the Linnaean Taxonomy: Sources and Implications of a Racial Image.” In Race and Racism in Modern East Asia, vol. 2, edited by Kowner, Rotem and Demel, Walter, 2354. Leiden: Brill, 2015.
Liedman, Sven-Eric. “Utilitarianism and the Economy.” In Science in Sweden: The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, 1739–1989, edited by Frängsmyr, Tore, 2344. Canton, Mass.: History Publications, U.S.A, 1989.
Lindroth, Sten. Kungliga Svenska Vetenskapsakademiens historia 1739–1818, Vol. 1,2: Tiden intill Wargentins död 1783. Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1967.
Lindroth, Sten. “The Two Faces of Linnaeus.” In Linnaeus: The Man and His Work, edited by Frängsmyr, Tore, 162. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983.
Löwegren, Yngve. Naturaliekabinett i Sverige under 1700-talet: Ett bidrag till zoologiens historia. Lychnos-Bibliotek 13. Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1952.
Lundman, Bertil. “Linnés rasindelning av människan i Systema Naturae 1735 och 1758.Svenska Linnésällskapets Årsbok (1965): 8889.
Marshall, P. J., and Williams, Glyndwr. The Great Map of Mankind: British Perceptions of the World in the Age of Enlightenment. London: Dent, 1982.
Müller-Wille, Staffan, and Charmantier, Isabelle. “Natural History and Information Overload: The Case of Linnaeus.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (2012): 415.
Nauman, Eric. “Braad, Christopher Henric.” In Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, vol. 5. Stockholm: Bonnier, 1925.
Nyberg, Kenneth. Bilder av Mittens rike: Kontinuitet och förändring i svenska resenärers kinaskildringar, 1749–1912. Göteborg: Historiska Institutionen, Göteborgs Universitet, 2001.
Nyberg, Kenneth, and Manktelow, Mariette. “Linnés apostlar och tillkomsten av Species plantarum.Svenska Linnésällskapets Årsskrift (2002–2003): 930.
Nyberg, Kenneth. “Linnaeus' Apostles: Scientific Travel and the East India Trade.” Zoologica Scripta 38:1 (2009): 716.
Schiebinger, Londa L. Nature's Body: Sexual Politics and the Making of Modern Science. Boston: Beacon Press, 1993.
Selander, S. Linnélärjungar i främmande länder. Stockholm: Bonnier, 1960.
Sirén, O.Kina och den kinesiska tanken i Sverige på 1700-talet.Lychnos (1948–1949): 184.
Skott, Christina. “Linnaeus and the Troglodyte: Early European Encounters with the Malay World and the Natural History of Man.” Indonesia and the Malay World 42:123 (2014): 141–69.
Skuncke, Marie-Christine. “Carl Peter Thunbergs japanska resa i 1770- och 1780-talens medier.Sjuttonhundratal (2008): 4462.
Sloan, Phillip. “The Gaze of Natural History.” In Inventing Human Science: Eighteenth-Century Domains, edited by Fox, Christopher, Porter, Roy, and Wokler, Robert, 112–50. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.
Slotkin, J. S., ed. Readings in Early Anthropology. London: Methuen, 1965.
Söderpalm, K., ed. Ostindiska Compagniet: Affärer och föremål. Göteborg: Göteborgs Stadsmuseum, 2000.
Sörlin, Sverker. “Scientific Travel: The Linnaean Tradition.” In Science in Sweden: The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 1739–1989, edited by Frängsmyr, Tore, 96123. Canton, Mass.: Science History Publications, 1989.
Sörlin, Sverker. “Apostlarnas gärning: Vetenskap och offervilja i Linné-tidevarvet.Svenska Linnésällskapets Årsskrift (1990–91): 7589.
Sörlin, Sverker. “Ordering the World for Europe: Science as Intelligence and Information as Seen from the Northern Periphery.” Osiris, sec. ser., 15 (2000): 5169.
Sörlin, Sverker, and Fagerstedt, Otto. Linné och hans apostlar. Stockholm: Natur och Kultur, 2004.
Spencer, Frank. “Pithecos to Pithecanthropus: An Abbreviated Review of Changing Scientific Views on the Relationship of the Anthropoid Apes to Homo.” In Ape, Man, Apeman: Changing Views since 1600, edited by Corbey, Raymond and Theunissen, Bert, 1328. Leiden: Department of Prehistory, Leiden University, 1995.
Stearn, W. T.Carl Linnaeus's Acquaintance with Tropical Plants.” Taxon 37:3 (1988): 776–81.
Steenstrup, C.Scandinavians in Asian Waters in the 17th Century: On the Sources for the History of the Participation of Scandinavians in Early Dutch Ventures into Asia.” Acta Orientalia 43 (1982): 6983.
Tinland, Franck. 1968. L'Homme sauvage: Homo ferus et Homo sylvestris de l'animal à l'homme. Paris: Payot, 1968.

Keywords

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Human Taxonomies: Carl Linnaeus, Swedish Travel in Asia and the Classification of Man

  • Christina Skott

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.