1st Edition

Beyond Science and Empire Circulation of Knowledge in an Age of Global Empires, 1750–1945

    212 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Through ten case studies by international specialists, this book investigates the circulation and production of scientific knowledge between 1750 and 1945 in the fields of agriculture, astronomy, botany, cartography, medicine, statistics, and zoology.

    In this period, most of the world was under some form of imperial control, while science emerged as a discrete field of activity. What was the relationship between empire and science? Was science just an instrument for imperial domination? While such guiding questions place the book in the tradition of science and empire studies, it offers a fresh perspective in dialogue with global history and circulatory approaches. The book demonstrates, not by theoretical discourse but through detailed historical case studies, that the adoption of a global scale of analysis or an emphasis on circulatory processes does not entail analytical vagueness, diffusionism in disguise, or complacency with imperialism. The chapters show scientific knowledge emerging from the actions of little-known individuals moving across several Empires—European, Asian, and South American alike—in unanticipated places and institutions, and through complex processes of exchange, competition, collaboration, and circulation of knowledge.

    The book will interest scholars and undergraduate and graduate students concerned with the connections between the history of science, imperial history, and global history.

    1. Science and Empire: Past and Present Questions

    Matheus Alves Duarte da Silva, Thomás A. S. Haddad, and Kapil Raj

    Part 1: Knowledge Production on Imperial Landscapes

    2. Putting Ships to New Uses: "Floating Gardens" and the Circulation of Knowledge at Sea and on Land, 1790-1800

    Jordan Goodman

    3. Regional Knowledge in the Empire: Tobacco Cultivation during the Napoleonic Era

    Alexander van Wickeren

    4. Global Communication and Construction of Knowledge in French Naval Medicine: Pierre-François Kéraudren and the Health Department of French Navy, 1813-1845

    Daniel Dutra Coelho Braga

    5. Positioning the North: Making British Geographical Knowledge of Australia in the Mid-Nineteenth Century

    Johanna Skurnik

    6. Maps and the Man on the Spot: Bio-geographies, Knowledge, and Authority around and about the Zambezi

    Elizabeth Haines

    7. The Global Dimensions of the Rome Zoological Garden and Italian Colonialism in Africa

    Mauro Capocci and Daniele Cozzoli

    Part 2: Knowledge Production at Imperial Crossroads

    8. The Astronomical Observations of Bento Sanches Dorta in Rio de Janeiro, 1781-1787

    Heloisa Meireles Gesteira

    9. Auguste de Saint-Hilaire’s writings between European and Brazilian Audiences, 1816-1850

    Lorelai Kury

    10. Commercial Statistics of Late Qing China Between Global Interest and Local Irrelevance, 1860-1910

    Stacie A. Kent

    11. Plague and the Global Emergence of Microbiology, 1894-1920

    Shiori Nosaka and Matheus Alves Duarte da Silva


    Matheus Alves Duarte da Silva is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of St Andrews, working on the global history of medicine. He is the author of Quand la peste connectait le monde: production et circulation de savoirs microbiologiques entre Brésil, Inde et France (1894–1922) (2020).

    Thomás A. S. Haddad is an Associate Professor of History of Science at the University of São Paulo, Brazil, specializing on astral knowledge practices in early modern empires. He is the author of Maps of the Moon: Lunar Cartography from the Seventeenth Century to the Space Age (2019).

    Kapil Raj is a Distinguished Research Professor at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, whose research is focused on the role of intercultural encounters in the construction of modern science. He is the author of Relocating Modern Science: Circulation and the Construction of Knowledge in South Asia and Europe, 1650–1900 (2007).