The New Worlds of Thomas Robert Malthus is a sweeping global and intellectual history that radically recasts our understanding of Malthus's Essay on the Principle of Population, the most famous book on population ever written or ever likely to be. Malthus's Essay is also persistently misunderstood. First published anonymously in 1798, the Essay systematically argues that population growth tends to outpace its means of subsistence unless kept in check by factors such as disease, famine, or war, or else by lowering the birth rate through such means as sexual abstinence.
Challenging the widely held notion that Malthus's Essay was a product of the British and European context in which it was written, Alison Bashford and Joyce Chaplin demonstrate that it was the new world, as well as the old, that fundamentally shaped Malthus's ideas. They explore what the Atlantic and Pacific new worlds—from the Americas and the Caribbean to New Zealand and Tahiti—meant to Malthus, and how he treated them in his Essay. Bashford and Chaplin reveal how Malthus, long vilified as the scourge of the English poor, drew from his principle of population to conclude that the extermination of native populations by European settlers was unjust.
Elegantly written and forcefully argued, The New Worlds of Thomas Robert Malthus relocates Malthus's Essay from the British economic and social context that has dominated its reputation to the colonial and global history that inspired its genesis.
Alison Bashford is the Vere Harmsworth Professor of Imperial and Naval History at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Jesus College. Her books include Global Population: History, Geopolitics, and Life on Earth. Joyce E. Chaplin is the James Duncan Phillips Professor of Early American History at Harvard University. Her books include The First Scientific American: Benjamin Franklin and the Pursuit of Genius.
"In their important and persuasive new book, Bashford and Chaplin argue that, far from being an uncaring figure with tunnel vision, Malthus, properly understood, anticipates some of the most pressing international circumstances of our time. . . . [A] provocative and profound work."--Mark S. Micale, Times Literary Supplement
"Penetrating reappraisal of the philosopher's Essay on the Principle of Population."--Barb Kiser, Nature
"A towering publication of prime intellect if ever there was one."--David Marx Book Reviews
"Overall, an interesting, articulate work that effectively argues for placing Malthus in the context of world history."--Choice
"A richly contextualized and deeply researched portrait of Thomas Robert Malthus and his famously bleak analysis of the limits to population growth. This Malthus is steeped in the travel literature on the new worlds of the Americas and the Pacific, entangled in the West Indies sugar and slave trades, and in the thrall of theories of human development highly prejudicial to indigenous peoples under threat by European settlers. His Essay must now be read with new eyes."--Lorraine Daston, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
"This remarkable new book puts Malthus's original arguments about population growth and scarce resources back in their historical contexts of global ecologies and worldwide experiences of colonial and economic change. An indispensable guide to the structure of the environmental crisis and its long-term genealogy."--Simon Schaffer, coeditor of The Brokered World: Go-Betweens and Global Intelligence, 1770-1820
Table of Contents:
Part I: Population and the New World
1 Population, Empire, and America 17
2 Writing the Essay 54
Part II: New Worlds in the Essay, c. 1803
3 New Holland 91
4 The Americas 116
5 The South Sea 146
Part III: Malthus and the New World, 1803– 1834
6 Slavery and Abolition 171
7 Colonization and Emigration 201
8 The Essay in New Worlds 237