Campus: Wilfrid Laurier
My research interest focuses on European trade and settlement in Guayana (the region now incorporating the lower Amazon, Cayenne, Surinam, Guayana, and south-eastern Venezuela), between 1550 and 1670, and the travel literature which evolved from it. I have edited two volumes for the Hakluyt Society: English and Irish Settlement on the River Amazon, 1550-1646 (1990) and Sir Walter Ralegh’s Discoverie of Guiana, 2006.
I am currently writing a general history of English settlement in the area in the late Elizabethan and early Stuart period. English and Irish activities in this area took on a distinctly different pattern from more well-known ventures on the North American Atlantic seaboard and the Caribbean islands. Although the organized companies backed by courtiers and gentry failed, lesser traders who recognized the profits to be made by trade in tropical commodities, valued the region’s low visibility on the margins of the Atlantic economy, and could move fluidly among the ventures established by other Europeans, established an enduring presence on the coast. I am also interested in how the native peoples and landscape of Guayana were projected in European texts.