1st Edition

Science and Empire in the Atlantic World

Edited By James Delbourgo, Nicholas Dew Copyright 2008
    384 Pages
    by Routledge

    384 Pages
    by Routledge

    Science and Empire in the Atlantic World is the first book in the growing field of Atlantic Studies to examine the production of scientific knowledge in the Atlantic world from a comparative and international perspective. Rather than focusing on a specific scientific field or single national context, this collection captures the multiplicity of practices, people, languages, and agendas that characterized the traffic in knowledge around the Atlantic world, linking this knowledge to the social processes fundamental to colonialism, such as travel, trade, ethnography, and slavery.

    Table of Contents

    Introduction: The Far Side of the Ocean

    James Delbourgo and Nicholas Dew (McGill University)

    Part One: Networks and Circulations

    1. Controlling Knowledge: Navigation, Cartography, and Secrecy in the

    Early Modern Spanish Atlantic

    Alison Sandman (James Madison University)

    2. The Geography of Precision in the French Atlantic World

    Nicholas Dew (McGill University)

    3. Circulations: Benjamin Franklin’s Atlantic as Medium and Message

    Joyce E. Chaplin (Harvard University)

    Part Two: Writing the American Book of Nature

    4. A New World of Secrets: Occult Philosophy in the Sixteenth-Century Atlantic

    Ralph Bauer (University of Maryland)

    5. Tropical Empiricism: Making Medical Knowledge in Colonial Brazil

    Júnia Ferreira Furtado (Federal University of Minas Gerais)

    6. American Climate and the Civilization of Nature

    Jan Golinski (University of New Hampshire)

    Part Three: Itineraries of Collection

    7. Empiricism and Identities in the Spanish Atlantic World

    Antonio Barrera (Colgate University)

    8. Fruitless Botany: Joseph de Jussieu’s South American Odyssey

    Neil Safier (University of Pennsylvania)

    9. Atlantic Competitions: Botany in the Eighteenth-Century Spanish Empire

    Daniela Bleichmar (University of Southern California)

    Part Four: Contested Powers

    10. The Electric Machine in the American Garden

    James Delbourgo (McGill University)

    11. Diasporic African Sources of Enlightenment Knowledge

    Susan Scott Parrish (University of Michigan)

    12. Mesmerism in Saint Domingue:

    Occult Knowledge and Voodoo on the Eve of the Haitian Revolution

    François Regourd (University of Paris – Nanterre)

    Afterword: Science, Capitalism and the State

    Margaret C. Jacob (UCLA)


    James Delbourgo is Assistant Professor of History and Chair of History and Philosophy of Science at McGill University. He is the author of A Most Amazing Scene of Wonders: Electricity and Enlightenment in Early America.

    Nicholas Dew is Assistant Professor of History at McGill University, where he teaches early modern European history and history of science. He is the author of Orientalism in Louis XIV’s France.

    "It is a pleasure to welcome this collection of new essays on the changing role of science in the Atlantic World....The editors have sought to recover stories of navigation, conquest, and settlement that earlier historians have sought to simplify; and in this, they have admirably succeeded....This book will be a useful addition to the libraries of all who study science and empire." – Roy McLeod, Isis, the Journal of the History of Science Society

    ‘Dew and Delbourgo have managed to square the circle of edited collections: bringing together a diverse set of essays to target an important historiographical issue.’ – British Journal for the History of Science

    'Science and Empire in the Atlantic World is one of those rare collections that offers not just new answers but changes the very questions for research. Its collaborative and comprehensive portrayal of many Atlantics and the multiple forms of knowledge they generated will ensure that neither the history of science nor Atlantic history will ever look the same again.' – David Armitage, co-editor of The British Atlantic World, 1500-1800

    'This superb collection of essays teaches us that the origins of early modern science and the Atlantic expansion cannot be rent asunder. This book puts the periphery-center paradigm on its head.' – Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, author of Nature, Empire, And Nation: Explorations of the History of Science in the Iberian World

    'Science and Empire in the Atlantic World sets a new basis for research and teaching in the intellectual history of the interactions of Europe, Africa, and the Americas. It deserves the attention of every scholar of the cultural history of Imperialism.' – Richard Drayton, author of Nature's Government: Science, Imperial Britain, and the "Improvement" of the World

    'In this impressive and cleverly-organized group of essays, historians of the sciences explore the systems of negotiation, exploration, and circulation that developed in the Americas and Atlantic networks in the three centuries after European invasion and settlement. The result is a startling reorientation of familiar maps of knowledge, technique, and power. The richly documented studies make for indispensable reading.' –Simon Schaffer, co-editor of The Sciences in Enlightened Europe

    "This volume serves as an excellent introduction to the application of recent work in the history of science to the world of the colonial Atlantic Empires as sites of knowledge gathering." - Jordan Kellman, International Journal of Maritime History, December 2010 (Volume XXII, No. 2)

    '...the editors' introduction presents and excellent overview of the historiography and state of research on the production and dissemination of natural knowledge, theoretical and practical, in the early modern Atlantic world.' - Victor D. Boantza, The University of Sydney

    'This collection is a work of high scholarly order and should be read by all those interested in the relations between the sciences, geography and politics, and culture in the early modern Atlantic realm and beyond.' - Victor D. Boantza, The University of Sydney