Lu Li-Ru (PhD) is a Professor of English at National Sun Yat-sen University, Taiwan. Her research foci include English and American nature writing, early American literature, and 19th-century Taiwan studies. She is the author of Uncovering New Ground for American Nature Writing. In 2018 and 2022, her journal articles were published in SARE: Southeast Asian Review of English. She is also the author of book chapters in the edited collections Writing the Environment in Nineteenth-Century American Literature, Southeast Asian Ecocriticism, Life Mapping as Cultural Legacy, and in the forthcoming book titled Critical Plant Studies in Taiwan. E-mail: luliru@faculty.nsysu.edu.tw


Human-Nonhuman Engagements: Multispecies Ethnographic Representations of Marine Animals in Joseph Beal Steere and Cuthbert Collingwood

Abstract: For most 19th-century Western travelers, Formosa (now Taiwan) was little-known. To explore this terra incognita, plenty of Western explorers and natural scientists visited Formosa after the opening of the ports of Ta-kau and Keelung for trade in 1860. These travelers made observations, collected specimens, and documented the mostly unknown landscapes and species, including marine animals, of Formosa. Mostly written in the form of travel journals, the works of these Western travelers were pioneering writings that delineated Formosa’s flora and fauna and recorded the natural history of Formosa in the 19th century. This paper focuses on the works of two Western travelers in this period: Joseph Beal Steere (1842-1940) and Cuthbert Collingwood (1826-1908). The paper looks at Steere’s and Collingwood’s accounts of Formosan marine animals to argue that they pioneered the genre of “multispecies ethnography,” as shown in Steere’s Letters from Formosa (1873) and Collingwood’s Rambles of a Naturalist (1868). The paper addresses the following questions: How did Steere and Collingwood represent Formosan oceanic animals and their multispecies environments in their works? How did Steere and Collingwood represent the entanglements of humans and nonhumans in their delineations of Formosan oceanic species? How did Steere’s and Collingwood’s accounts of Formosa’s marine animals present lively interspecies relationships and express proto-ecological sensibilities that would make them pioneers of the genre of multispecies ethnography?
Keywords: marine animals, 19th-century Formosa, multispecies ethnographies, Cuthbert Collingwood, Joseph Beal Steere