Swedish Naturalists in South Africa 1771–1851

The South African flora and fauna have been studied by a number of Swedish naturalists the last 250 years. Some of them, Sparrman and Thunberg in the 1770s and the Swedish South Africa Expedition in 1950–1951, have given major contributions to the knowledge of the biodiversity of South Africa. The first Swedish naturalist that stayed for a longer period and went further inland for studying the flora and fauna was Anders Sparrman, a student of the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus. Another Linnaean disciple, Carl Peter Thunberg, also made major investigations of the fauna and flora of the Western Cape province. In 1950–1951 a team of researchers from Lund University performed extensive research in the country. The aim of this project is to map these natural history travels and give an assessment of their collected specimens and their contribution to the exploration of the natural history of South Africa. These travelers did not only encounter never before described animal and plant species; they also encountered African people and other ways of living. A second aim of the project is to give a contribution to the history of South African cultural encounters seen from the eyes of Swedish travelers.

Project leader(s):
  • David Dunér (Department of Cultural Sciences, Lund University, Sweden)

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