The Uses of Butterflies



In this article, I examine the life and career of Henry Walter Bates, both for its intrinsic interest and in an effort to understand some of the scale-making activities through which Amazonia became a region. Bates, a distinguished entomologist who spent the years 1848–59 in the Amazon basin, returned to Britain to write the most famous of the 19th-century accounts of regional life. Examining Bates's intellectual and philosophical formations, his fieldwork experience in the context of a turbulent Amazonian politics, and his relationships with metropolitan and colonial natural scientific institutions, I offer a thick history of practice as a strategy for analyzing the complex productivities of Victorian traveling science. [Amazonia, collecting, colonialism, fieldwork, natural science, region, space]