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Published on Tuesday, February 25, by Luigia Parlati. Over the last few decades the renewal of the history of the sciences has been marked by an opening towards non-European spaces, especially the Iberian Americas, and by the study of the relations between knowledges and power.
We now have at our disposal a growing body of work on the imperial sciences, the contribution of the colonies to the advancement of knowledge, more particularly the natural sciences, and on the Enlightenment and the links between sciences, revolutions and independence in the colonial territories. However it is the opposite hypothesis that we seek to explore, highlighting both the modalities by which the legacy of the imperial, colonial Enlightenment was passed on and transformed, and the processes which meant that late 19th century Ibero-American societies, including Brazil and the Spanish colonies in the Caribbean, were ready to take full advantage of the new scientistic paradigm with a rapidity that ought to strike us as surprising.
Similarly, there has been a considerable expansion of research interest in the part played by sciences and knowledges in the consolidation processes underway in the nation-states, beginning in the last third of the 19th century, a period which coincides with the affirmation of the positivist paradigm and the integration of Latin America in world economic flows. However, scholars of Latin America are only just beginning to take an interest in the intermediary period stretching from the Enlightenment to scientism.
In view of the fact that knowledge in any society is the product of the society in question, the prime objective will be to identify the concrete actors, be they individual or collective, in the political, social, cultural and material history of knowledges in the Iberian Americas: what were the concrete contributions of the administrators, politicians and soldiers, scientists and jurists, essayists or pamphleteers, but also of businessmen and entrepreneurs, to the production, circulation and spread of scientific and technical knowledges?
What were the networks, the instances of sociability in which they discussed and shared their knowledges, and what were the criteria by which theywere considered usefulfor economic development and government?
What were the social milieus in which the interflow of scientific and technical knowledges with public action was concretized?
What systems of circulation exile, study tour, diplomacy, scientific or administrative correspondence, publications, and so on linked these milieus to national spaces and the Euro-American space? What were the various connections and exchanges with the scientific community in Europe and the United States?
What was the role of the public sphere, of opinion and the circulation of the printed word in the socialisation of knowledges—whether on the subject of public hygiene, the steam engine or the metric system—and what were the effects of this socialisation on expectations about the role and function of the state? Lastly, what was the impact of the emergence of these new knowledgesand techniques on social, political and religious forms of authority?
How did the authorities obtain information on population, production and commercial activity or the territory? How did they reuse and bring up to date knowledges accumulated during the imperial period, and how did public statistics come into being? How was the question of the efficacy of the administration dealt with, and how was the latter connected to state involvement in economic activity?
The relevant spectrum of knowledges is extremely broad, ranging from the scientific disciplines to the practical knowledges used in mining activities or the earliest railways, in plantations or the nascent banks, and including knowledges of governance such as the law in all its forms civil, public and international, commercial , or again political economy, administrative law and administrative science.
What was the importance attached to the institutionalisation of these knowledges and what were the private or state agents of this institutionalisation? How did such knowledges circulate in the Iberian Americas and the Euro-American space, and which were the actors in this process?
How, too, were they translated, in concrete terms, from the intellectual sphere into government action or their economic application?
The questions can be addressed in many different ways, through case studies favouring an approach to the relations between knowledges, government and state building that is at once contextualised, localised and transnational. Accepted papers will be published in a collective volume after review by an independent editorial committee.
Submissions: Authors are invited to submit a one-page maximum outline of their proposed paper presenting original and unpublished research, taking care to mention the primary sources used in the case-study.
Requests for assistance with travel costs will be examined on a case-by-case basis. Argument Over the last few decades the renewal of the history of the sciences has been marked by an opening towards non-European spaces, especially the Iberian Americas, and by the study of the relations between knowledges and power.
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