Circulating Seditious Knowledge: The “Daring Absurdities, Studied Misrepresentations, and Abominable Falsehoods” of William Macintosh

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The author examines the writing, editing, anonymous publication, and translation of a late-eighteenth-century text of travel and political sedition: Travels in Europe, Asia, and Africa (1782). Written by William Macintosh, a Scots-born Caribbean plantation owner turned political commentator, Travels was considered by contemporaries to be incendiary—precipitating British governmental action against the East India Company, inspiring revolutionary spirit in France, informing politicians in the United States during the drafting of the Constitution, and instructing natural philosophers in Germany on questions of race and civilization. The author argues that the international spatial mobility of Macintosh’s book was facilitated by geographically distinct acts of editing, translation, and reproduction. The complex publication history of Travels—across editions in English, German, and French—is used to demonstrate that Macintosh’s work was differently staged for different linguistic audiences. The author concludes by reflecting more broadly on the importance of mediation to the mobility of knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMobilities of knowledge
EditorsHeike Jöns, Peter Meusburger, Michael Heffernan
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-44654-7
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-44653-0
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

NameKnowledge and Space


  • authorship
  • editing
  • translation
  • book history
  • geographies of knowledge

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