Depicting the Invisible: Welwitsch's Map of Travellers In Africa

Sara Albuquerque, Silvia Figueirôa

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2 Citations (Scopus)
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This paper addresses a nineteenth century African manuscript map which has hitherto remained ‘invisible’. This manuscript was produced by Friedrich Welwitsch (1806–1872), an Austrian botanist in the service of the Portuguese government, and held by the National Museum of Natural History and Science, University of Lisbon Museums/Museu Nacional de História Natural e da Ciência, Museus da Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal (MUHNAC). This historical document contains names of several travellers, many of them ‘invisible’ explorers, located in different parts of the African continent, depicting the relationships in both a visual and geographical way with notes and relevant historical observations. Welwitsch, as so many contemporary fellow botanists, was in contact with many scientists, exchanging not only correspondence but knowledge and collections. This map is a key document, a true hub of Welwitsch's network of knowledge in which the scientific networks, the types of actors, interactions, methodologies and practices of botany are revealed, providing insights into the botanical exchanges that contributed to the making of Welwitsch's African collections.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-129
Number of pages21
JournalEarth Sciences History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Africa
  • Botany
  • Friedrich Welwitsch
  • Iter Angolense
  • Manuscript map

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