Barcelona: An Urban History of Science and Modernity, 1888-1929: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Barcelona: An Urban History of Science and Modernity, 1888-1929

1st Edition

By Oliver Hochadel, Agustí Nieto-Galan


258 pages

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Paperback: 9780815366744
pub: 2017-10-23
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pub: 2016-04-26
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The four decades between the two Universal Exhibitions of 1888 and 1929 were formative in the creation of modern Barcelona. Architecture and art blossomed in the work of Antoni Gaudi­ and many others. At the same time, social unrest tore the city apart. Topics such as art nouveau and anarchism have attracted the attention of numerous historians. Yet the crucial role of science, technology and medicine in the cultural makeup of the city has been largely ignored. The ten articles of this book recover the richness and complexity of the scientific culture of end of the century Barcelona. The authors explore a broad range of topics: zoological gardens, natural history museums, amusement parks, new medical specialities, the scientific practices of anarchists and spiritists, the medical geography of the urban underworld, early mass media, domestic electricity and astronomical observatories. They pay attention to the agenda of the bourgeois elites but also to hitherto neglected actors: users of electric technologies and radio amateurs, patients in clinics and dispensaries, collectors and visitors of museums, working class audiences of public talks and female mediums. Science, technology and medicine served to exert social control but also to voice social critique. Barcelona: An urban history of science and modernity (1888-1929) shows that the city around 1900 was both a creator and facilitator of knowledge but also a space substantially transformed by the appropriation of this knowledge by its unruly citizens.


"This book is very appropriate for a study of the role of science in this period of Barcelona’s history. It is much more than a collective volume; it is an impressive academic collaborative effort. At the same time, it is generally a very accessible, easy read and very rich and diverse in the topics addressed, in the sources and approaches used, and in its analyses of Barcelona’s history. (…) This book is a major contribution to existing scholarly works in several areas: General History of Barcelona, History of Science in Barcelona and the relation between Urban Studies and History of Science. The contributions suggest a great amount of work behind them and clearly show how science was practised, taught, popularized, used and even sold in this period in Barcelona."

- Miquel Carandell Baruzzi, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona – Centre d’Historia de la Ciencia CEHIC in Metascience, 2017

"all the ten chapters share –despite the diverse historiographical traditions of the authors and the particularities of each case study - similar historical sensibilities, a high level of historiographical sophistication, and rich and innovative historical sources. This coherence of the volume is the consequence of true teamwork and academic and editorial excellence."

- Stefan Pohl Valero, Universidad del Rosario

Table of Contents

Introduction, Oliver Hochadel and Agustí Nieto-Galan. Part I Control - Elite Cultures. Civic nature: The transformation of the Parc de la Ciutadella into a space for popular science, Oliver Hochadel and Laura Valls; Reconstructing the Martorell. Donors and spaces in the quest for hegemony within the natural history museum, Ferran Aragon and José Pardo-Tomás; Laboratory medicine and surgical enterprise in the medical landscape of the Eixample district, Alfons Zarzoso and Àlvar Martínez-Vidal; Technological fun: the politics and geographies of amusement parks, Jaume Sastre-Juan and Jaume Valentines-Álvarez. Part II Resistance - Counter-Hegemonies. The Rose of Fire: Anarchist culture, urban spaces, and management of scientific knowledge in a divided city, Álvaro Girón Sierra and Jorge Molero-Mesa; The city of spirits: Spiritism, feminism and the secularization of urban spaces, Mònica Balltondre and Andrea Graus; Anatomy of the urban underworld: A medical geography of the Barrio Chino, Alfons Zarzoso and José Pardo-Tomás. Part III Networks - Experts and Amateurs. The sky above the city: Observatories, amateurs and urban astronomy, Antoni Roca-Rosell and Pedro Ruiz-Castell; The city in waves: Radio Barcelona and urban everyday life, Carlos Tabernero and Meritxell Guzmán; The city of electric light: Experts and users at the 1929 International Exhibition and beyond, Jordi Ferran and Agustí Nieto-Galan. Index.

About the Authors

Oliver Hochadel is a Tenured Historian of Science at the Institució Milà i Fontanals, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientí­ficas (IMF-CSIC), Barcelona. His research focuses on the relationship between science and its publics. Book publications include El mito de Atapuerca. Orí­genes, ciencia, divulgación (2013), Playing with Fire. Histories of the Lightning Rod (edited with Peter Heering and David Rhees, 2009) and Öffentliche Wissenschaft. Elektrizität in der deutschen Aufklärung (2003).

Agustí­ Nieto-Galan is Associate Professor of the History of Science, Director of the Centre d’História de la Ciència (CEHIC) at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and ICREA-Acadèmia fellow (2009). He has written widely on the history of chemistry and natural dyestuffs, and on the history of science popularization (eighteenth to twentieth centuries). He is currently working on several aspects of science popularization and urban history of science in Europe. His book Science in the Public Sphere was published in March 2016.

About the Series

Science, Technology and Culture, 1700-1945

Science, Technology and Culture, 1700-1945 focuses on the social, cultural, industrial and economic contexts of science and technology from the ‘scientific revolution’ up to the Second World War. Publishing lively, original, innovative research across a broad spectrum of subjects and genres by an international list of authors, the series has a global compass that concerns the development of modern science in all regions of the world. Subjects may range from close studies of particular sciences and problems to cultural and social histories of science, technology and biomedicine; accounts of scientific travel and exploration; transnational histories of scientific and technological change; monographs examining instruments, their makers and users; the material and visual cultures of science; contextual studies of institutions and of individual scientists, engineers and popularizers of science; and well-edited volumes of essays on themes in the field.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Modern / 19th Century
HISTORY / Modern / 20th Century