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04.-06.12.2019, Conference: „Alexander von Humboldt: Circulation of State Knowledge in Europe and Latin America“, Berlin

Conference, Dec 4-6, 2019, Berlin

Alexander von Humboldt: Circulation of State Knowledge in Europe and Latin America

Alexander von Humboldt Conference, Berlin (Program Flyer)
Alexander von Humboldt Conference, Berlin (Program Flyer)

Alexander von Humboldt’s journey through the American societies is often understood as the starting point of a new era in the transatlantic knowledge economies. Against this unidimensional perspective, this conference will embed the figure of von Humboldt within long-term developments that shaped institutions and scientific exchange between Europe and Latin America since the 18th century. It will discuss the circulation of experts and objects in the times of state reform in the different Empires, the role of state expertise and the newly founded scientific institutions for the economic development, the influence of international political shifts and of the Latin American independence. The conference presents the manifold forms of knowledge circulation, the different contexts of evolution and, finally, the entanglements of different fields of knowledge between Europe and Latin America in the 18th and 19th century.

The speakers are: Jorge Cañizares Esguerra (Austin), Nuria Valverde Pérez (Cuajimalpa), Gabe Paquette (Eugene, Oregon), José Enrique Covarrubias (Mexico City), Carlos Rodrigo Sanhueza Cerda (Santiago de Chile), Glenn Penny (Iowa City), Lina M. del Castillo (Austin), Darina Martykánová (Madrid), Lothar Schilling (Augsburg), Jakob Vogel (Berlin), Sandra Carreras (Berlin), Pierre Nobi (Paris), Alexander van Wickeren (Köln), Fabricio Prado (Williamsburg), Clément Thibaud (Paris), Ulrich Päßler (Berlin), Helge Wendt (Berlin).

Public Keynote Lecture on December, 4 at the IAI: Jorge Cañizares Esguerra (Austin)


Helge Wendt, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
Jakob Vogel, Centre Marc Bloch
Barbara Göbel, Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut – PK


December 4, 2019

Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut – PK
Potsdamer Str. 37
10785 Berlin

19:00 Welcome

Barbara Göbel, Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut – PK, Berlin
Keynote Lecture:
On Epistemological Colonialism: from Humboldt to the Present (and Back Again)
Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, University of Texas, Austin


December 5, 2019

Centre Marc Bloch
Friedrichstraße 191
10117 Berlin

09:00 Registration
09:30 Introduction

Introduction to the Conference
Jakob Vogel, Centre Marc Bloch, Berlin
Helge Wendt, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin
State Reform by Circulating Knowledge. Remarks on an Enlightened Concept and its Long-Term Effects
Lothar Schilling, University of Augsburg

10:30 Coffee Break
11:00 PANEL 1: State Experts and the Economic Development

Chair: Fidel José Tavárez Simon, Freie Universität Berlin

  • In Pursuit of (Public) Goods: Civil Servants, Knowledge and the Alternative Futures of the Spanish Empire
    Nuria Valverde Pérez, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Cuajimalpa,
  • Linkages between Political Economy and Statecraft in the Spanish and Luso-Brazilian Worlds (Jovellanos, Malaspina, Souza Coutinho and Silva Lisbon)
    Gabe Paquette, University of Oregon, Eugene
  • State Knowledge in the Times of Economic Liberalism. Alexander von Humboldt, Jean-Baptiste Boussingault and the „Latin American Mining Boom“ of the 1820s and 1830s
    Jakob Vogel, Sciences Po, Paris/Centre Marc Bloch, Berlin.

12:30 Lunch Break14:00 PANEL 2a: Creating Knowledge for the Independent Nation States

Chair: Birgit Aschmann, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

  • Networks of Knowledge and Revolution in Rio de la Plata and Brazil: the Emergence of the Banda Oriental (1777–1822)
    Fabrício Prado, William and Mary, Williamsburg
  • El nacimiento de las ciencias modernas en Cuba. El efecto Humboldt
    Eduardo Torres-Cuevas, Biblioteca Nacional de Cuba José Martí, Havana.

15:00 Coffee Break15:30 PANEL 2b: Creating Knowledge for the Independent Nation States

  • Humboldt and the Ilustrados of New Granada: From Natural Laws to Constitutional Invention
    Clément Thibaud, EHESS, Paris,
  • Broken Polity, Forgotten Science: Humboldt’s Scientific Network in the Shaping and Fragmenting of the Gran Colombian Republic, 1820–1830
    Lina M. del Castillo, University of Texas, Austin,
  • Harnessing Humboldt: German Science and State-Building in Central America in the Second Half of the 19th Century
    Glenn Penny, University of Iowa, Iowa-City.

17:00 End

December 6, 2019

Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
Boltzmannstr. 22
14195 Berlin

09:30 PANEL 3: The Atlantic World as a Crossroad of Experts

Chair: Sebastian Jobs, Freie Universität Berlin

  • Rediscovering America, Rediscovering Yellow Fever. Alexander von Humboldt’s Study of the Vómito Negro of Veracruz in the Context of the Circulation of Medical and State Knowledge in the Atlantic World (1790s–1820s)
    Pierre Nobi, Sciences Po, Paris,
  • From the Spanish to the Napoleonic Empire? Alexander von Humboldt, Agricultural Enlightenment and Tobacco Cultivation around 1800
    Alexander van Wickeren, Universität zu Köln,
  • Humboldt’s Knowledge about Land and People in the North-West Regions of New Spain
    José Enrique Covarubias, Universidad Naciona Autónoma de México, Mexico City.

11:00 Coffee Break
11:30 PANEL 4: Mobilizing New Resources for the Public Good

Chair: Lucía Lewowicz, Universidad de la República Oriental de Uruguay, Montevideo

  • Humboldt and the 19th-century American Energy Crisis
    Helge Wendt, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin,
  • The Invisible Hand of Nature? Humboldt’s Concept of Dynamic Equilibrium between Natural Research, Universal History and Political Economy
    Ulrich Päßler, Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Berlin.

12:30 Lunch Break14:00 PANEL 5: Networks of Persons and Objects between Europe and Latin America

Chair: Peter Birle, IAI – PK, Berlin

  • Transatlantic Careers: Foreign Engineers in Latin America, Latin American Engineers all around the World
    Darina Martykánová, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid,
  • On Humboldt’s Path? German-speaking Experts in South America
    Sandra Carreras, Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut – PK, Berlin,
  • A Cosmos under Construction. Alexander von Humboldt and the Mobility of Data and Instruments in the Global Circulation of Knowledge
    Carlos Rodrigo Sanhueza Cerda, Universidad de Chile.

15:30 Coffee Break
16:00 Final Discussion

Conference venue

Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut – PK, Potsdamer Straße 37, 10785 Berlin

Centre Marc Bloch, Friedrichstraße 191, 10117 Berlin

Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Boltzmannstraße 22, 14195 Berlin

Alexander von Humboldt Conference, Berlin

Contact and Information

Helge Wendt, MPIWG, E-Mail: hwendt@mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de
Diana von Römer, IAI-PK, E-Mail: roemer@iai.spk-berlin.de


Program Flyer (PDF)

You can view and download the program flyer here.

Alexander von Humboldt Conference, Berlin

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