The Brokered World
Go-Betweens and Global Intelligence, 1770–1820

Simon Schaffer, Lissa Roberts, Kapil Raj, James Delbourgo, editors

November, 560 pp., black and white illustrations, ISBN 978-0-88135-374-7, $69.96

The Brokered World


“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, v. xxv, 2-2010

“…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, March 2011, pages 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, February 2010

“…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, v. 7/1—March 2012

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements • Introduction

Chapter 1
Frontier Tales: Tokugawa Japan in Translation
Robert Liss

Chapter 2
The Asiatic Enlightenments of British Astronomy
Simon Schaffer

Chapter 3
Mapping Knowledge Go-betweens in Calcutta, 1770–1820 105
Kapil Raj

Chapter 4
Friendship and Knowledge: Correspondence and Communication in Northern Trans-Atlantic Natural History, 1780–1815 151
Margaret Meredith

Chapter 5
Full Steam Ahead: Entrepreneurial Engineers as Go-betweens During the Late Eighteenth Century
Lissa Roberts

Chapter 6
Spies, Dyes and Leaves: Agro-intermediaries, Luso-Brazilian Couriers, and the Worlds They Sowed
Neil Safier

Chapter 7
Fugitive Colours: Shamans’ Knowledge, Chemical Empire and Atlantic Revolutions
James Delbourgo

Chapter 8
Across Nations and Ages: The Creole Collector and the Many Lives of the Megatherium
Juan Pimentel

Chapter 9
Self Preservation: French Travels between Cuisine and Industrie 
Emma Spary

Chapter 10
Boundary-crossings, Cultural Encounters and Knowledge Spaces in Early Australia
David Turnbull

Chapter 11
Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Some Afterthoughts
Sanjay Subrahmanyam


Bibliography of Secondary Sources