Instruments, Travel and Science: Itineraries of Precision from the Seventeenth to the Twentieth Century

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2002-09-13
  • Publisher: Routledge

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We are now accustomed to conceive of science as an instrumental activity, producing numbers, measurements and graphs by means of sophisticated devices. This book investigates the historical process that gave rise to this instrumental culture. The contributors trace the displacement of instruments across the globe, the spread of practices or precision and the circulation and appropriation of skills and knowledge. Through comparative and contextual approaches, the volume confronts the tension between the local and the global, examining the process of the universalization of science. Bringing together case studies ranging from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries, contributors discuss French, German and British initiatives, as well as the knowledge and techniques of travelers in countries such as India, Africa, South East Asia and the Americas. Students and researchers interested in the history of science in both Western and non-Western cultures will find this book a valuable and thought-provokingread.

Table of Contents

List of figures
Notes on contributors ix
Acknowledgements xi
Marie-Noelle Bourguet
Christian Licoppe
H. Otto Sibum
Golden means: assay instruments and the geography of precision in the Guinea trade
Simon Schaffer
The project for a map of Languedoc in eighteenth-century France at the contested intersection between astronomy and geography: the problem of co-ordination between philosophers, instruments and observations as a keystone of modernity
Christian Licoppe
The travels and trials of Mr Harrison's timekeeper
Jim Bennett
Landscape with numbers: natural history, travel and instruments in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries
Marie-Noelle Bourguet
Appropriating invention: the reception of the voltaic battery in Europe
Giuliano Pancaldi
When human travellers become instruments: the Indo-British exploration of Central Asia in the nineteenth century
Kapil Raj
The manufacture of species: Kew Gardens, the Empire, and the standardisation of taxonomic practices in late nineteenth-century botany
Christophe Bonneuil
Exploring the margins of precision
H. Otto Sibum
Travelling light
Richard Staley
Travelling knowledge: narratives, assemblage and encounters
David Turnbull
Index 295

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