It has been suggested that the attitudes and assumptions of explorers constitute a kind of “unofficial symbolic imperialism,” helping to define the cultural terms on which unequal political relations between colonizer and colonized could subsequently be established. The fact that British explorers of Africa… received official sanction and support is, according to this view, but one aspect of their contribution to imperial history; another is their role in the popularization of myths and fantasies about the non‐European world. For geographical exploration did not merely overcome distance; it helped created “imagination
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The coincidental British participation in exploration, and the discovery of exotic peoples and geographical landscapes, created an interest among literate British for colonization.