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Darwin: biography[]

Darwin, Britain and Peru[]

Charles Darwin, Peru, Ecuador and Britain.

Today Darwin, voted the fourth greatest Brit, is certainly one of the most famous world-wide along with Newton, Shakespeare, Princess Diana, two Queen Elizabeths and a few footballers. Over the previous few months prior to this day (October 20th) in 1835, Darwin’s ship, the Beagle, had made its way up from Tierra del Fuego to the Galapagos Islands. And it was during this period that the theory of evolution was beginning to take root. The Beagle, was refitted and resupplied in Callao (for its long voyage to Tahiti) and that gave Darwin the opportunity to explore inland. He found post-independence Peru is a state of decay and destitution caused by the “inter-caudillo” wars. (The British Consul in Lima advised <c> Palmerston, the British Foreign Minister, to support a confederation for Peru and Bolivia 1836-39.) Darwin’s ideas were seen as a challenge to the authority of the church (Darwin did not take part in church services <c> but did church work and, later in his life, supported the South American Missionary Society) and were misinterpreted by later modernisers and radicals who attacked “social-darwinism”, a late nineteenth century construct. The current debate regarding how cultures coalesce (see debate on immigration and integration) and which elements in competing cultures (Salsa or Morris-dancing!) will or should survive has echoes of Darwinism (see Dawkins, Richard: memes). Ideas, which perhaps had their origins in observations made in Peru and Ecuador, have now come back to haunt us<c>. Positivism, which is often associated with Darwinism (perhaps wrongly - see above) and the period of British influence in Peru (1821-1914 say), has been a long-time a-dying.

Note. This is a run-on from an article in Minka (October 20, 2007), focusing on the period when the Beagle was between Tierra del Fuego and the Galapagos (Embarked October 20, 1835) and on the Ecuador/Peru "connection" with Darwin. For a much fuller treatment of the topic Charles Darwin see

<c>=citation and/or footnote needed.