erschienen in HiN XV, 28 (2014)
When it comes to footnotes, Alexander von Humboldt was ahead of his times even though his references leave much to be desired by today’s academic standards. This article examines the footnotes of Humboldt’s Essai politique sur l‘île de Cuba (1826). While it is not always easy to decipher his sometimes cryptic references, the undertaking is worthwhile: Humboldt’s footnotes do not only reveal his vast networks of knowledge. They also provide glimpses of ongoing, contemporary disputes among different scholars that involve Humboldt’s writings. They also present Humboldt’s reactions to such disputes. Exploring Humboldt’s footnotes consequently allows the reader to access both Humboldt the scholar and Humboldt the human being.