“Hereticks for believing the Antipodes”: Scottish colonial identities in the Darien, 1698-1700




Chassé, Patrick

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New Caledonia (1698-1700) was Scotland’s largest independent colonial venture. The scheme’s collapse crippled the country financially and was an important factor in the Anglo-Scottish Union of 1707. This project explores the identity of Scottish settlers who attempted to colonize the Darien region of modern Panama. Colonial identity is assessed by reconstructing the Scottish dialogue about the natural world, the aboriginal population, and the commonwealth. I contend that the ideology of improvement that shaped Scottish perceptions of utility and fertility in the Darien became a powerful moral discourse used to critique the colonists. This paper also chronicles Scottish aspirations to found an empire of trade and civility, uncovering the fundamental problems created by the idealization of the Tule as eager subjects of this new empire. Finally, I argue that Caledonia’s food shortages not only threatened the colonial government’s legitimacy, they also exposed divergent ideals of the commonwealth among the settlers.



Darien, New Caledonia, Scotland, Colonial, Identity, Improvement, Empire, Tule, Panama, Food, Civility