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Global Knowledge on the Move: Itineraries, Amerindian Narratives, and Deep Histories of Science

Neil Safier
Isis
Vol. 101, No. 1 (March 2010), pp. 133-145
DOI: 10.1086/652693
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/652693
Page Count: 13
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If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support
Global Knowledge on the Move: Itineraries, Amerindian
Narratives, and Deep Histories of Science
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Abstract

ABSTRACT Since Bruno Latour's discussion of a Sakhalin island map used by La Pérouse as part of a global network of “immutable mobiles,” the commensurability of European and non-European knowledge has become an important issue for historians of science. But recent studies have challenged these dichotomous categories as reductive and inadequate for understanding the fluid nature of identities, their relational origins, and their historically constituted character. Itineraries of knowledge transfer, traced in the wake of objects and individuals, offer a powerful heuristic alternative, bypassing artificial epistemological divides and avoiding the limited scale of national or monolingual frames. Approaches that place undue emphasis either on the omnipotence of the imperial center or the centrality of the colonial periphery see only half the picture. Instead, practices of knowledge collection, codification, elaboration, and dissemination—in European, indigenous, and mixed or hybrid contexts—can be better understood by following their moveable parts, with a keen sensitivity toward non-normative epistemologies and more profound temporal frameworks.

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