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On Ignored Global “Scientific Revolutions”

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image of Journal of Early Modern History

The categories that structure the study of early modern science are organized around the epistemological liberal regime of facts, objectivity, skepticism, print culture, the public sphere, and the Republic of Letters. The regime of early-modern science in the global Spanish Monarchy is not well known because it was forged in a very different system, one of rewards and legislation in which most activities were transacted through one-on-one epistolary correspondence and intimate transference of information in translation workshops. This global system, nevertheless, engendered ceaseless technical and scientific innovations. I study three cases: the extraction and transformation of silver ores in several spaces; the production of ships and new botanical resources that reorganized global dockyards; and the creation of local translation workshops to facilitate the circulation of knowledge within the global empire. “European” science, the “West,” and instrumental reason have always been global co-creations. However, colonial and postcolonial Manichean dichotomous historiographical categories have made this truism hard to see.

Affiliations: 1: University of Texas-Austin


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