Circulation and Locality in Early Modern Science

Friday, October 19, 2007–Saturday, October 20, 2007
All Day

William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
2520 Cimarron Street

—a conference organized by Mary Terrall, University of California, Los Angeles, and Kapil Raj, École des hautes études en sciences sociales

Many recent studies in science studies, history of science and colonial history have shown how local conditions and contingencies enter into the production of knowledge, and how place (nation, city, institution, laboratory, ecosystem, colony, ocean, farm) matters. This work has tended to problematize the process by which local knowledge gains status as canonical or universal, taken to be true for all times and places. This conference tries to push considerations of locality to include negotiations and practices that travel (one way or the other) to distant locations, to be put to different uses, and perhaps to be interpreted differently. It means looking at colonial contexts, and intercultural encounters, but also provincial settings and the relations between province and capital. It means examining how knowledge from the metropole was taken or sent to other venues, how it interacted with local people and conditions, and perhaps how it then moved on to other settings. Knowledge moves in all different directions, as do objects: the instruments, specimens, drawings, books, and letters carried knowledge from one place to the other, and from one sort of user to another. One of the main issues for the conference then is to reconsider simple models of metropolitan center and remote colonial periphery by investigating how experiences of travel, encounter and exchange changed both the knowledge at issue and its bearer. Examined is the relation of metropolitan or stay-at-home savants and their distant correspondents, as well as the negotiations of the travelers with the complex of indigenous interlocutors: savants, merchants, assistants, translators, artists, etc.

Kapil Raj, École des hautes études en sciences sociales
Session Chair
Mary Terrall, University of California, Los Angeles

Nicholas Dew, McGill University
“Circulating Measurement in the Early Enlightenment World”

Jan Golinski, University of New Hampshire
“Nation, Ocean, and Atmosphere: British Knowledge of Climate in the Eighteenth Century”

Session Chair
Pamela Smith, Columbia University

Martha Few, University of Arizona
“Circulating Smallpox Knowledges: José Flores, Maya Indians, and Designing the “Real Expedición Marítima de la Vacuna,” 1780–1806″

Mary Terrall, University of California, Los Angeles
“Following Insects Around: Tools and Techniques of Natural History in Reaumur’s World”

Jakob Vogel, Centre Marc Bloch, Berlin
“Locality and Circulation in the Habsburg Empire: The Disputes around the Medical Salt of Karlsbad, 1763–1784”

Session Chair
Sanjay Subrahmanyam, University of California, Los Angeles

Kapil Raj, École des hautes études en sciences sociales
“Putting Circulation in Order: Court Culture in 18th-Century Calcutta”

Catarina Madeira Santos, École des hautes études en sciences sociales
“Administrative Knowledges in a Colonial Context (Eighteenth-Century Angola)”

Jane H. Murphy, Colorado College
“Locating the Sciences in Eighteenth-Century Egypt”

Session Chair
Kapil Raj, École des hautes études en sciences sociales

Avner Ben-Zaken, Harvard Society of Fellows
“Objects in Motion: Science, Networks, and Trust across the Mediterranean”

Carla Nappi, Montana State University
“Recipe: Forms of Circulation and Scents of Place in Chinese-Arabic Medical Exchange”

Final Commentary and Discussion
Moderator: Theodore Porter, Univeristy of California, Los Angeles