Skip to content Skip to navigation

“Experts, Informants, Environments: Global Nature Studies in a Digital Age”

Tuesday, April 17, 2018, 12:00-1:20 PM
Building 160, Room 433A

What does it mean to create a universal knowledge of nature in an increasingly global age? This paper considers how naturalists aspired to study global nature from 1500 to 1900. During this period, Europeans sought to write a global natural history that categorized the plants and animals they encountered into one unified system of collection and classification. Non-Europeans, such as Ottomans and Mexica, however, had different stories to tell about their own quest in nature. Encounters between European and non-Europeans led these naturalists to cast aside their individual subjecthood while expanding—and challenging—their own perceptions of nature. Using digital tools, this paper proposes new approaches to restoring the centrality of local knowledge to insights abstracted from it. The paper considers geography, networks, and language as lenses through which to both grapple with the globality of this enterprise of knowledge creation and to consider nature studies within and beyond published natural histories. In particular, it seeks to understand how quests for universal knowledge overlapped among different knowledge cultures.

For those who cannot physically join us at Stanford, please feel free to join us virtually via Zoom video conferencing, meeting ID 137-865-411.

Mackenzie Cooley, Anna Toledano, Duygu Yıldırım, and Dhara Yu are among the researchers in the Natural Things project. Visit the People page to learn more about us.

presented with CESTA