The Europeans see the Americans as savages


Now the Great Map of Mankind is unrolled at once; and there is no state or gradation of barbarism, and no mode of refinement which we have not at the same instant under our view. The very different Civility of Europe and of China; the barbarism of Persia and Abyssinia, the erratic manners of Tartary, and of Arabia. The Savage state of North America, and of New Zealand.1

These lines, which the philosopher Edmund Burke (1729–1797) wrote to William Robertson (1721–1793), the historiographer of America, one year after the American declaration of independence in 1776, reflect the European awareness of its own privileged position, the ethnic and cultural To be able to observe and understand the diversity of the world.

In the second half of the 15th century, Europe entered an age of discovery, in the course of which increasingly closer relationships with other parts of the world and their inhabitants developed. Geographical, geological and other discoveries were also part of this process, such as knowledge of the shape and structure of the earth or the location of resources. However, the discoveries also had an ethnic-anthropological aspect, because in the course of a constant interaction between the testimonies of travelers and the work of scholars at home, the diversity of peoples and forms of social organization influenced European thinking on questions of human society, culture, religion, Government and civilization.

The term "discovery" is problematic as it suggests that passive indigenous peoples were "found" by the Europeans. This asymmetrical view denies the indigenous peoples an autonomous existence before the arrival of the Europeans. Since the early 1990s, historians have increasingly replaced "discovery" with the term "encounter". This is viewed as more neutral and, unlike the subject-object relationship indicated in the term "discovery", implies an interaction. Unlike "conquest" and "expansion", the term "encounter" has no ideological connotation and is also compatible with a transcultural, global approach to history. Choosing a more neutral term does not change the fact that there was a process in the course of which Europeans invaded regions of the world that were previously unknown to them and "discovered" for themselves new animal and plant species and ecosystems, new peoples and societies. In the course of this process, the European perception of the "others" encountered at these encounters was shaped from the outset by a hierarchical perspective. "Diversity" in the sense of a deviation from European norms generally also included "inferiority". In European minds, the "other" was automatically equated with a lower rank in the hierarchy of civilization.

Since the term "encounter" refers to a mutual process, an examination of these encounters without considering the non-European perspective is incomplete. Nevertheless, this article should primarily focus on the European side of the encounter.

Encounters: with whom, where and when?

For a long period of time, for the Europeans the "others" were first the "barbarians" of the Greeks and Romans, then the Islamic Arabs and later the Mongols. The Ottoman Turks later took this place and for five centuries they became the epitome of "the other" for Christendom. In all of these cases the "others" were enemies of Christian Europe and a direct threat. In the early modern period, however, European encounters were the result of an expansion process in dynamic Western societies that developed capitalist economic forms and developed into nation states.

The first wave of expansion in the 15th and 16th centuries was essentially concentrated in three areas: first the Atlantic basin from the Atlantic islands and the coast of West Africa to the central regions of the American continent, then the northern seas, which stretch from the Baltic Sea to the White Sea Sea and the coasts of Siberia and extending westward to the North American coasts of Canada, Labrador, Hudson Bay and Baffin Island, and finally the eastern seas and northern Asia. The focus of the second wave of expansion in the 17th century was in the Pacific region with Australia, Tasmania, New Guinea, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, but also in the northern seas between Alaska and Siberia. During the third wave in the 19th century, Europeans penetrated into the interior of Africa (the "race" or "scramble" for Africa).

For the white Europeans, each of these successive waves of expansion brought encounters with new "others". Conversely, the inhabitants of other parts of the world came into the sphere of influence of a self-confident, fair-skinned "other" who had large ships and firearms and displayed an insatiable hunger for riches and souls. Taken together, these waves of expansion represent an age of global pillage from which the West in particular benefited. On the other hand, they also paved the way for an increasingly "transcultural" world.

In addition to Europe's growth in global power and the reallocation of global resources in its favor, these processes had two interrelated long-term effects. On the one hand, they gave new impetus to European debates on the essence of nature, man, society, religion, law, history and civilization and promoted the emergence of new sciences such as anthropology, comparative history, linguistics, biology and sociology. On the other hand, these processes produced an abundance of printed travel reports and historical writings, which led to the deeds of European adventurers, conquistadors and seafarers finding their way into national historical narratives. Travel reports like the multi-volume ones Relations sur les découvertes et les autres événements arrivés en Canada, et au nordet à l'ouest des États-Universities (1611–1672) and the Lettres édifiantes et curieuses (1702 and ff.) Of the Jesuits provided historians and philosophers with basic information and were sources of inspiration for literary works. They let educated Europeans take part in the exploration of new worlds and the experiences made there.2

The "discovery" of a "new" world by Christopher Columbus (1451–1506) [] initiated both a qualitative and a quantitative change. European encounters with other peoples had existed since ancient times, as evidenced by the writings of Herodotus (around 484 – around 425 BC), which were rediscovered and translated into Latin just a few decades before Columbus' first journey. In the 13th century there were some memorable diplomatic and religious missions, mostly carried out by Italians, to East Asia, the Mongol Empire and the court of the Great Khan. Portuguese and Italian sailors had made voyages beyond Gibraltar in the east and south Atlantic and explored the west coast of Africa in the 14th and 15th centuries. The trips made from the 1490s, however, had effects that went far beyond their economic and political significance. The arrival of the Spaniards in the "New World" was to change life in Europe and America also in material, cultural and intellectual terms and to establish an increasingly transatlantic and transcultural relationship between the continents, the so-called Columbian exchange led.3

Perhaps less dramatic in their consequences, but nevertheless of enormous economic importance were the Portuguese trips to India, which revitalized the exchange relations between the west and southern and eastern Asia. In both the West and the East, Europeans established contacts with other societies and cultures that differed from them. The inhabitants of the Caribbean and mainland North and South America were commonly viewed as "wild". However, in the form of the Aztec, Mayan and Inca empires, the Europeans also encountered civilizations that they regarded as "more advanced" and that gave rise to fundamental historical and ethnological questions. In contrast, Europeans found societies in the east whose age and complex structure they recognized and in which - in contrast to the indigenous peoples of the Americas - there were no willing trading partners or easily subjugated natives. The supposed "savagery" of the Native Americans and the perception of the empires found there as "semi-civilized" gave Europeans a justification for conquering them and introducing new political, economic and legal systems, new languages ​​and religions.

In the course of the following discoveries and conquests, Europeans came into contact with other indigenous peoples in America, South Africa, Indonesia, Oceania, and North and Central Asia in the 16th and 17th centuries. Europeans referred to these as "wild" societies consisting of hunters and fishermen or as "barbaric" societies of nomadic shepherds. From the middle of the 17th century, however, the work of Jesuit missionaries and the work of French, English and German orientalists led to the discovery of a new, culturally advanced "other": the literary tradition of the Arabs, the Brahmanist religious culture of India, and the Confucian philosophy of China , the civilizations of Baalbek and Palmyra in the Middle East and the Indo-Iranian-Avestan and ancient Indian language and literary traditions that led to the so-called "Oriental Renaissance" and the "Oriental Enlightenment".4

At the end of the 18th century, Europeans explored new regions in Africa. The early 19th century saw the consolidation of British rule in India. The colonization of Australia and New Zealand, the French campaigns to Tonkin, Vietnam and Cambodia in the 1850s, the British engagement in Afghanistan and the efforts of Great Britain to gain access to the markets of China as well as the imperialist enterprises began in the first half of the 19th century Germany, Belgium and Italy in West and East Africa. The conquest and settlement of the American West continued throughout the 19th century, until the official closure of the city in the 1890s Frontier was announced.

By the late nineteenth century, there was hardly a part of the world - with the exception of some regions of China, Japan, the Arctic and Antarctic - that Europeans had not expanded their economic, military power and culture to. The encounters resulting from European expansion set processes in motion that led to a world increasingly shaped by transcultural and transnational phenomena. These processes fundamentally changed the course of the earth's demographic and ecological history, for example through the mass exodus of Africans forced by the slave trade, through the colonization and transplantation of social, religious and legal ideas and practices, through the growing importance of overseas regions for European politics and diplomacy , through mass migrations of varying intensity from Europe to America and then from the rest of the world to Europe as well as through a considerable expansion of the range of goods available on European markets and the gradual development of a world economy. The consequences of these events have been discussed in numerous historical papers, which are briefly summarized below.

Who are they, where are they from and how do they live?

The discovery of America through Europe "not only opened a new source of wealth to the busy and commercial part of Europe, but an extensive field of speculation to the philosopher, who would trace the character of man under various degrees of refinement, and observe the movements of the human heart, or the operations of the human understanding, when untutored by science or untainted with corruption ".5

Europeans perceived America's newly discovered indigenous peoples as "savages". The term "wild" was applied to people and societies that were not only different in linguistic and religious terms. In ancient times and in the Middle Ages, people with a different language, religion or culture were called "barbarians". In the early modern period and as a result of the aforementioned encounters, however, the term "savages" was used for people whose ways of life allegedly did not meet the basic requirements of civilized societies, who lived according to the laws of nature or without any laws, education, religion or morality.

Two widely held opinions quickly emerged regarding the indigenous peoples of the Americas. According to one, they were living evidence of a lost golden age before the fall of man. They were seen as full-fledged fellow men who were able to acquire all the alleged achievements of European civilization, including Christian doctrine and, consequently, their salvation. As potential members of the Catholic Church and subjects of the Crown of Castile, the supporters of this opinion demanded that they should not be enslaved and should enjoy the same rights as all other Spanish subjects. It was the duty of the Spanish crown to establish a political order that would protect its American subjects from the predatory greed of the colonists.

The other prevailing attitude was that the Indians were merely semi-human beings or even "beasts" who lacked the basic requirements of civilized people. They would by no means be "good" but "bad savages": cruel, immoral, stupid, incapable of hard work, without any moral and political standards and with a tendency to inhuman practices such as sodomy, cannibalism and human sacrifice. They would clearly not be full-fledged people and would have to be controlled by a higher political authority that would bring them the advantages of the Christian-European order. While the attitudes described were undoubtedly influenced by the debates about the legality of rule in the conquered territories, the Indian peoples also raised important philosophical and belief-theoretical questions. Their mere existence on a land mass separated from Eurasia and Africa by a mighty ocean seemed difficult to reconcile with the biblical creation story and the repopulation of the earth after the Flood by the survivors of Noah's Ark. The fact that they were apparently unfamiliar with Christianity or any of the world's other monotheistic religions also cast doubts on other aspects of the biblical narrative and teaching.

In addition, some residents of the newly discovered areas were human in appearance, but apparently had no equivalent economic, political or religious structures. They were nomads, gatherers, hunters, fishermen or at best shepherds and simple farmers. They lived in small, often temporary built villages and kept only a few domesticated animals. They did not have any iron tools. They had no religion in the sense of the monotheistic religions of the Old World. In the eyes of Europeans, there was also a lack of rules and conventions for the order of sexual and family relationships in their coexistence. The inhabitants of the great Mesoamerican empires, with their more complex urban societies and state structures, were perceived as only slightly more advanced than the "savages" in technological and cultural terms and were often referred to as "barbarians" to distinguish them from the "savages". These European impressions and observations were recorded in a myriad of historical, legal, religious and philosophical writings. The number of these works increased rapidly in the course of the European expansion process in the New World and gave the educated European public the opportunity to become familiar with the phenomena found on the other side of the Atlantic. At least three main problems emerged in the wake of these discoveries. They related to the origins, nature, history and future of the Indian peoples.

The debates about the origins and character of the indigenous peoples of America have led to a variety of competing explanations over the centuries. According to a biblical, monogenistic view of mankind, they were descendants of Adam who had survived the Flood by emigrating and settling in non-flooded areas. Another, polygenic view assumed that they were the result of one or more acts of creation that took place separately from that described in the biblical creation story. Accordingly, God would have created different types of people according to the geomorphological differences in the various regions of the world. Diffusionism and evolutionism were two other theories that departed from traditional Christian teaching to explain the existence and origins of the indigenous people of America.

In connection with these considerations there was the question of the forms of society and history. European culture gradually developed a tendency to analyze other cultures and forms of social organization, which later gave rise to the scientific disciplines of ethnography, anthropology and historical sociology. The first contributions in this field came not from secular but from spiritual authors - the missionaries. They made it their task to understand other cultures and thereby established a connection between civilizational debates and the problem of evangelization. It is hardly surprising, then, that some of the most astute analyzes of Native American societies were written by men of the Church. One example is the Jesuit José de Acosta (1539–1600).6 Acosta's thoughts already went in a mature social-anthropological direction, because he renounced the clichés of the "good" or "noble savage" or of the "bad" or "ignoble savage". He examined notions of "barbarism" and "savagery" in more detail and gained a new understanding of the influence of nature, education and the environment on political life and the historical development of human societies. He discussed the problem of evangelizing people with fundamentally different cultures and languages, remarkably more modern than previous writings on the subject. Of particular importance is that Acosta made a connection between ethnology and history in his analysis of barbarism.

Acosta's comparative ethnology identified several types of barbarians and homines sylvestres feris similes ("Wild animal-like people of the forests"), which he attached to various forms of recognizable linguistic communication, political organization and religious practices - or the lack thereof. His ethnological descriptions also provided a clue for history. He was of the opinion that all human races had gone through a historical development with three successive stages of barbarism before they were fully civilized. In other words, the current state of America's inhabitants represented the primitive state of humanity. But were they able to reach higher levels of organization? Acosta's Christian providentialism left no room for the idea of ​​a hopeless persistence in a state of savagery; however, the Indians could only develop further under the guidance of religiously and politically superior Europeans.

Acosta also showed how Orthodox Christian diffusionism was compatible with history by advancing the theory that migration and the maintenance of nomadic ways of life were detrimental to civilization. Acosta claimed that the Indians were the descendants of Japhet and suggested that they came to America through an as yet unknown passage in Northeast Asia. According to this, the inhabitants of America had migrated further than any other peoples after the Flood and had lost a larger proportion of the previously acquired cultural achievements in the process. They could not have regained these achievements because of the lack of cities and sedentary agriculture - for Acosta and other Europeans basic prerequisites for a civilized society. In this regard, Acosta's ideas about the Indians were in perfect agreement with the theory of the "fall of man," which shaped the intellectual confrontation of early modern Europe with the indigenous peoples of America.7 Acosta's work is therefore an example of how the intellectual debate that resulted from considering indigenous societies promoted the emergence of ethnography and a better understanding of the history of human societies.

The development of historical sociology was one of the most lasting intellectual effects of European encounters with "wild" societies. Acosta's work had a lasting influence, especially on the Jesuit Joseph-François Lafitau (1681–1746), whose writings on the "wild inhabitants" of America8 advanced ethnological theory by pointing to the symbolic dimension of all cultural systems and drawing parallels between the "wild" societies of the time and the history of European peoples. What was particularly interesting was the idea that the trip to America for Europeans was not only a spatial but also a temporal one, as it was there that they encountered their own past. John Locke's (1632–1704) well-known statement "In the beginning all the world was America" ​​was one of the longest lasting phrases used in the intellectual conceptualization of encounter. Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle (1657–1757) elaborated on this idea by comparing myths, fables and oracles, which he saw as the main components of a primitive mentality typical of all people in an early stage of development.9David Hume (1711–1776) and Charles de Brosses (1709–1777) discussed how religious cult forms had developed from fetishism and idolatry to monotheism and rational deism. These considerations supported the thesis that the Indians are inferior, a view that was particularly evident in the 18th century in the writings of the French naturalist Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (1707–1788), the Dutch philosopher Cornelius de Pauw (1739– 1799) and the French writer Guillaume Thomas Raynal (1711–1796) played a prominent role.

In addition to the development of more complex relativistic theories about the "savages", in which the importance of environment, education and opportunity was emphasized, the clichés of the "good" or "noble" and the "bad" or "ignoble savage" (which are not necessarily had to exclude) present in the Western world of thought.

The notion of the "noble savage" contributed to the emergence of primitivist approaches that glorified the simple, original, and unspoiled life of civilized society. According to this view, the "wild" societies were polities in which unadulterated virtue, love of freedom, and pure, authentic customs prevailed. In its History of the American Indians (1775)10 James Adair (approx. 1709–1783) drew a positive picture of the Indian tribes living in the southern hinterland of North America and viewed them as free and equal members of a new American society. The positive stereotype of the virtuous and original "other" implicitly also included criticism of a European civilization that was perceived as corrupt and brutal. Notable examples of the use of the "noble savage" cliché are the descriptions that Louis Armand, Baron de Lahontan (1666 – around 1715) wrote of the North American Indians he visited in the late 17th century11 and - on a more sophisticated philosophical level - Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778)Discours sur l'inégalité12. In European literature, painting and theater, European society and its grievances were often viewed through the eyes of wise, sincere and attentive Mohawks, Hurons, Hottentots, Tahitians or even Incas, Mexicans, Persians and Chinese.

The negative stereotype of the "ignoble savage" was a predictable consequence of the constant clashes between the aggressively invading white settlers in North and South America, Australia, New Zealand and Africa and the nomadic hunter or shepherd societies of the indigenous peoples who acted as an obstacle to progress and the advancement of civilization were perceived. The competition for land and resources encouraged this aversion, which helped to perpetuate the image of the "ignoble savage". However, this was also supported by writings that allegedly proceeded more scientifically. So tried the French naturalist Buffon in his influential Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière13 to establish a connection between the external appearance and the social condition of the American "savage" and the assumed "novelty" of America and its natural history, the alleged "weakness" of its flora and fauna and the "childlike immaturity" of its human inhabitants and their social backwardness. He attributed these phenomena to the late settlement of the continent. The cliché of the "bad" or "ignoble savage" also influenced the perception of America in the 18th and 19th centuries.14

The "ignoble savage" also played an important role in historical and sociological thinking in eighteenth-century Europe, where attempts were made to develop a theory of civilization and historical progress and a hierarchy of human societies on the basis of "progress" Role. The most notable example of this is the Scottish four-step theory. This hierarchical way of thinking categorically ruled out that a desirable life could be achieved without the norms applicable in "civilized societies", without property, exchange relationships, money, trade and consumption of goods, without the protection of a "civil jurisprudence" and without the Christian worldview. She assumed that those societies that had gone through all historical stages of development up to a capitalist and urban form of civilization were materially and intellectually superior to the others. Backward societies could not develop independently, but only under the benevolent guidance of advanced societies.

Progress was understood as a linear historical path, the ultimate goal of which was "civilization". The happiness of man - a worldly kind of salvation - or the realization of the fateful or historical destiny of a people, according to this view, depends on the realization of a "civilized" way of life. The regular encounters between supposedly more or less developed societies seemed to confirm the idea of ​​a hierarchy of civilizational development. Although the European Enlightenment was also skeptical of the idea that European society was the height of human development, it ultimately paved the way for the positivist and evolutionist theories of the 19th century. Encounters with non-Europeans, who had a strongly Eurocentric aspect from the start, apparently confirmed the Europeans' ideas of their place in the hierarchy of civilizational development. In the 18th and 19th centuries, in the course of Eurocentric thinking, already existing ideas of the racial, cultural, scientific and technological superiority of the Europeans were further developed. The notion of the "white man's burden" not only justified the submission of non-European peoples, but presented it as the duty of Europeans to spread their superior culture.

From the late 17th century onwards, Europe had encounters with peoples in two other geographical regions: Sub-Saharan Africa and the Pacific. After the initial activities of the Portuguese on the Atlantic coast, the French and especially the British, who dominated trade with Africa in the 18th century, later became involved in sub-Saharan Africa. Inner Africa remained unknown for a long time and European-African encounters were initially limited to the coastal areas. Negative perspectives and generalizations determined the European perception. Africa was portrayed as a region marked by despotism and terrible, unchangeable, ubiquitous "savagery" - as an object of research that had to be penetrated more scientifically than historically. Two factors in particular contributed to this point of view: the black skin color of the people and the slave trade. Taken together, both led to the development of a negative image of the African peoples. For Europeans, the dark skin color represented a clear and unchangeable distinguishing feature and, together with other physical characteristics, reinforced European ideas of the fundamentally different and inferior African. From the late 17th century, the origin of black skin color became the subject of lively anatomical, physiological and medical debates that went beyond earlier attempts at explanation such as the "curse of Cain" and climatic factors.

The assumed connection between outward, "racial" characteristics and moral and intellectual traits (as discussed by Buffon and - with even more emphasis on racial aspects - by Hume and Edward Long (1734–1813)) did not come to mind until the late 18th century interpreted in terms of cause and effect, because only now have the monogenetic unity of humanity and the equality of all peoples been fundamentally called into question. Although some important travel reports from the late 17th century onwards painted a more nuanced picture of West Africa with its diverse political units and its ethnic and historical complexity, Europeans continued to perceive black Africans in terms of the old stereotypes: as uncivilized, barbaric, sluggish, unreliable, spiritual and material enslaved and free from those virtues, especially religious ones, that are essential for progress. Slavery apologists even claimed that Africans would inevitably fall victim to Arab slave traders and local despots and would therefore be better off under the care of European masters. Meanwhile, some travelers and authors drafted more complex and sometimes even positive portrayals of West African societies, such as: B. the French naturalist Michel Adanson (1727–1806) and the Scottish philosophers John Millar (1735–1801) and Lord Henry Kames (1696–1782).

The work of abolitionists such as Anthony Benezet (1713–1784) [] and by explorers such as Mungo Park (1771–1806) [] led towards the end of the 18th century to the development of a more balanced and knowledgeable image of Africa. Park's exploration of the Niger region in the 1790s brought new geographical and, above all, ethnological knowledge. His descriptions of the inhabitants of these areas and the traditional political structures in which they lived contradicted the common stereotype of the uncivilized African. The writings of the abolitionists mostly resorted to primitivist motifs in describing African peoples and portrayed them as innocent victims who had been torn from their simple and natural existence by greedy Europeans. In other areas that were gradually coming into the European field of vision, such as South Africa, the indigenous peoples became15 but until well into the 19th century they were regarded as the most underdeveloped representatives of the human species, as examples of extreme barbarism or even as "subhumans".

Neither the historiography of the Enlightenment nor Hegel's idealistic philosophy of history looked at Africa and so the continent remained a country of great contradictions in the eyes of Europeans in the 19th century. Inside lived legendary, so-called primitive ethnic groups such as the Congopygmies, whom the German botanist and ethnologist Georg Schweinfurth (1836–1925) first met in the early 1870s. On the other hand, in the south and east of the Horn of Africa there were tightly organized and militarily powerful peoples who presented a challenge to European expansion and even defeated weaker European powers, as the Italians found in Ethiopia. However, this could not fundamentally change the prevailing negative stereotypes of the socially and economically backward African continent, which was generally inferior to Europe. With the later development of physical anthropology and its fixation on the measurement, definition and classification of human races, the connection between external appearance, moral characteristics and the potential for civilization was strengthened in Western thought.

The period between the end of the Seven Years War (1763) and the outbreak of the French Revolution brought a wealth of new knowledge about the Pacific region thanks to navigators and scientists such as George Anson (1697–1762), John Byron (1723–1786), Samuel Wallis (1728 –1795) and Philip Carteret (1733–1796), Louis-Antoine de Bougainville (1729–1811) and Johann Reinhold Forster (1729–1798) and his son Georg (1754–1794). The three long journeys of James Cook (1728–1779) [] Between 1768 and 1779, typical scientific expeditions organized by the Royal Society were decisive in expanding European knowledge of Pacific sea routes, winds and island systems as well as of the flora, fauna and peoples of the Pacific region. They also paved the way for the British colonization of Australia, which would become Britain's second largest settlement colony, and for the discovery of the Terra Australis Incognita.

These encounters brought Europeans into contact with peoples who, in their opinion, had little or no contact with the outside world before.With the help of historical genetics, it has now been possible to trace the migration routes and the mixing of the ethnic groups that lived on the Australian land mass and in the Pacific region. However, 19th century Europeans believed that the Pacific Islanders and Australian Aborigines lived in complete isolation. The view that these peoples were isolated from European culture and European influences seemed to the Europeans only too conclusive, since they perceived the inhabitants of the Pacific Islands as extremely primitive and, apart from their external appearance, hardly as human. It was generally assumed that the adoption of European culture was a basic requirement for civilization.

Despite many similarities, the points of view in the various European countries were not identical. French explorers often interpreted what they saw in a sentimental and idealizing way. The British were also enchanted by life in Tahiti, but were less inclined to view the local society as original, unspoiled and joyful. They noticed that there was definitely inequality, oppression and conflict. Although attentive explorers like Johann Reinhold and Georg Forster Describing Tahiti and Tonga as paradises, they also commented on more fundamental problems, such as "The Causes of the Difference in the Races of Men in the South Seas, their Origin and Migration"16 and considered the possible consequences of European invasion. The following encounters with the less hospitable Maoris of New Zealand and the Australian Aborigines seemed to confirm the originally ambivalent attitude of the Europeans towards the hitherto unknown natives. The assassination of James Cook on his third voyage in 1779 only added to these fears.

The encounters with the peoples of the Pacific and in particular with the inhabitants of Tahiti fired the imagination of Europeans lastingly,17 as well as direct contact with Tahitians such as Aoutourou and Omai (approx. 1753 - approx. 1780)