The Brokered World: Go-Betweens and Global Intelligence, 1770–1820
This book offers detailed consideration of forms of knowledge production and circulation at a key moment in the development of global scientific, commercial, and political systems. In particular, it focuses on the roles of intermediaries such as brokers and spies, messengers and translators, missionaries and entrepreneurs, in linking different parts of these ever more densely entangled systems.
The period 1770-1820 was decisive for the reformation of imperial projects in the wake of military catastrophe and politico-economic crisis, both in the Atlantic and the Asian/pacific spheres, economic and political worlds dominated by complex trade systems and volent contest. The conjuncture also saw the overhaul of networks and institutions of natural knowledge, whether commercial, voluntary or organs of state. Both the industrial and the second scientific revolutions have been dated to this moment. New and decisive relations were forger between different cultures' knowledge carriers. The book's chapters consider knowledge movements of the epoch that escape simple models of metropolitan centre and remote colonial periphery. The question the immutable character of mediators and agents in knowledge communication. Instead, they explore how experiences of travel, assimilation and expropriation changed both the bearers of knowledge and the knowledges communicated. A range of such enterprises was in play here, including anatomy, chemistry and natural history; chronology, philology and jurisprudent; astronomy, survey science and engineering. The book's aim is to help make a better account of the worldly interaction between the kinds of knowledge communicated, the agents of communication and the paths they traveled.
“The editors of this important work intend both to move the history of science in fresh directions and to use it as a tool for exploring historical and geographical interconnections. They take the view that intellectual ‘movements’ and innovations, in science as well as other aspects of history, arose from the movements of people, who both traveled in space and engaged in efforts to cross boundaries of language and culture in attempts at mutual understanding . . . ” —Nuncius, 2010, 2 (xxv)
“ . . . This volume is a hybrid of two historiographical trends, in which agents of cultural transmission are joined with a global history of science to reveal the importance of these agents, not just in translating and interpreting knowledge, but also in shaping ideas during the Enlightenment and the ‘second scientific revolution’ . . . ” —History Workshop Journal, 2011 (March), 267–272
“This collection considers forms of knowledge production and circulation during the half century between 1770 and 1820, a key period in the development of global scientific, commercial, and political systems. In particular, it focuses on the roles played by intermediaries—brokers and spies, messengers and translators, missionaries and entrepreneurs—in linking different parts of these ever more densely entangled systems . . .” —Research Book News, 2010 (February)
“ . . . Eine Stärke liegt indessen in der breiten Materialbasis: Die Beiträge greifen auf gedruckte Quellen und unpublizierte Archivalien zurück; sie sind großzügig mit Karten und Abbildungen ausgestattet. Zusätzlich zu der für jeden Beitrag einzeln ausgewiesenen Literatur sind eine ausführliche Bibliographie und—für Sammelbände nicht selbstverständlich—ein umfangreiches Register enthalten. Nur wenige Bände sind so kohärent wie dieser. Den Beiträgen ist nicht nur eine große thematische und konzeptionelle Affinität, sondern auch ein offenkundig anregender Austausch ihrer Verfasser/innen im Vorfeld der Publikation anzumerken. Dies hat—last but not least—zu dem vielleicht erfreulichsten Ergebnis beigetragen: Sie lesen sich ganz ausgezeichnet. Insgesamt also ein empfehlenswerter Band, der seinen stolzen Preis durchaus wert ist." —H-Soz-u-Kult, 2011
“‘Beneath the rhetoric of discovery, encounter and invention lurks the go-between’s world,’ writes Lissa Roberts (p. 234) in this fascinating collection of essays on the largely ignored roles of go-betweens in the domains of knowledge and science across the world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries . . . The volume benefits from the fact that all of the contributors have been in conversation with each other for some time . . . ” —Journal of Global History, 2012 (March), 7/1