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Translating Nature
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Translating Nature
Cross-Cultural Histories of Early Modern Science

Edited by Jaime Marroquín Arredondo and Ralph Bauer

368 pages | 6 x 9 | 36 illus.
Cloth 2019 | ISBN 9780812250930 | $55.00s | Outside the Americas £44.00
Ebook editions are available from selected online vendors
A volume in the series Early Modern Americas

"Translating Nature is a literally wonderful book—including its thirty-five often startling and revealing illustrations, some from unique manuscripts rarely seen and more rarely discussed. And it is a great success at what it sets out to do: to educate us not only in the ways new knowledge was formed under the ambitious and novel circumstances of a globalized, polyglot,multicultural world in an age of print (and its detractors!), but also about the directions taken in recent decades by a new history of science, informed by multidisciplinary efforts starting in the 1970s to rewrite European imperial conquest and the "scientific revolution" from a decolonized point of view."—Modern Philology

"Translating Nature delivers a colorful and vivid picture of how early modern knowledge production was a collective enterprise, involving well known and, until recently, voiceless actors. The volume's tour the force is two-fold: to bring to the surface previously ignored 'native' knowledge and actors, and to reintroduce Catholic empires, namely the Spanish one, into the master narrative of the Scientific Revolution, whose main heroes have been Francis Bacon and the Protestant empires."—Journal of Early Modern History

"Translating Nature wields a powerful antidote against accounts of the Scientific Revolution that have disingenuously linked the rise of empiricism in the West with northern, Protestant Europe, ignoring the pivotal role that the first overseas empires, Spain and Portugal, played in Europe's discovery of natural and human worlds across the globe. Written by seasoned scholars of the early modern world, this collection of essays reveals a complex information network extending all the way from native informants who provided varied natural and ethnographic knowledge to Iberian institutions and scientists to scientific communities beyond the Pyrenees."—Nicolás Wey Gómez, California Institute of Technology

Translating Nature recasts the era of early modern science as an age not of discovery but of translation. As Iberian and Protestant empires expanded across the Americas, colonial travelers encountered, translated, and reinterpreted Amerindian traditions of knowledge—knowledge that was later translated by the British, reading from Spanish and Portuguese texts. Translations of natural and ethnographic knowledge therefore took place across multiple boundaries—linguistic, cultural, and geographical—and produced, through their transmissions, the discoveries that characterize the early modern era. In the process, however, the identities of many of the original bearers of knowledge were lost or hidden in translation.

The essays in Translating Nature explore the crucial role that the translation of philosophical and epistemological ideas played in European scientific exchanges with American Indians; the ethnographic practices and methods that facilitated appropriation of Amerindian knowledge; the ideas and practices used to record, organize, translate, and conceptualize Amerindian naturalist knowledge; and the persistent presence and influence of Amerindian and Iberian naturalist and medical knowledge in the development of early modern natural history. Contributors highlight the global nature of the history of science, the mobility of knowledge in the early modern era, and the foundational roles that Native Americans, Africans, and European Catholics played in this age of translation.

Contributors: Ralph Bauer, Daniela Bleichmar, William Eamon, Ruth Hill, Jaime Marroquín Arredondo, Sara Miglietti, Luis Millones Figueroa, Marcy Norton, Christopher Parsons, Juan Pimentel, Sarah Rivett, John Slater.

Jaime Marroquín Arredondo is Associate Professor of Spanish at Western Oregon University. He is author or editor of several titles, including Open Borders to a Revolution: Culture, Politics and Migration.

Ralph Bauer is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Maryland. He is author or editor of several books, including The Cultural Geography of Colonial American Literatures.

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