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In the wake of expanding commercial voyages, many people in early modern Europe became curious about the plants and minerals around them and began to compile catalogs of them. Drawing on cultural, social and environmental history, as well as the histories of science and medicine, this book argues that, amidst a growing reaction against exotic imports -- whether medieval spices like cinnamon or new American arrivals like chocolate and tobacco -- learned physicians began to urge their readers to discover their own "indigenous" natural worlds. In response, compilers of local inventories created numerous ways of itemizing nature, from local floras and regional mineralogies to efforts to write the natural histories of entire territories. Tracing the fate of such efforts, the book provides new insight into the historical trajectory of such key concepts as indigeneity and local knowledge.Read more
- Examines a series of sources - local floras, regional mineralogies - that have rarely, if ever, been studied before
- Sheds light on the origins of modern science in early modern Europe
- Explains how it was that many aspects of the neoteric world (rise of environmental science, inventory of planet's species) came to be
Reviews & endorsements
"Cooper has produced a succinct and judicious study that contributes much to our understanding of the development of natural history and environmentalism in Europe. It is a powerful reminder of how patriotism and suspicions about the global economy of the day created a movement to study indigenous expressions of nature. But it also shows how such attempts, when entered into dialogue with studies of the larger natural world, led to the appropriation and silencing of the knowledge of local people. It deserves to be widely read."
-Harold J. Cook, Professor and Director, the Welcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at University College LondonSee more reviews
"Finally a book that explains the rich cultural history of the 'indigenous.' Cooper's book is smart, highly readable, and a treasure trove of information for understanding how Early Modern Europeans viewed nature in their own backyard."
-Londa Schiebinger, John L. Hinds Professor of History of Science, Stanford University, and author of Plants and Empire
"Alix Cooper[...]adds a wealth of interesting and significant detail by looking at less well known authors and their works, revealing how the lessons of earlier scholarship can be extended to cover other parts of Europe, and other thinkers. The result is a valuable addition to the literature on the development of early modern natural history."
-John Henry, University of Edinburgh, American Historical Review
"Cooper's study deserves to be widely read."
-Christopher Cumo, Canadian Journal of History
"Cooper's study is invaluable, well informed, and, in making a case for the role of German territories and of learned local physicians in the pursuit of natural history, imaginative and challenging in its focus. It brings to light important sources that would otherwise remain obscure and makes a convincing case for their relevance among the practices of natural knowledge in the early modern era."
-Bruce T. Moran, Journal of Interdisciplinary History
"This is a highly stimulating history of the indigenous and local in early modern Europe." -Fredrik Albritton Jonsson, Journal of Modern History
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- Date Published: January 2010
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9780521124010
- length: 236 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 152 x 14 mm
- weight: 0.35kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
List of illustrations
1. Home and the world: debating indigenous nature
2. Field and garden: the making of local flora
3. From rocks to riches: the quest for natural wealth
4. The nature of the territory
5. Problems of local knowledge
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