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ABSTRACTAnthropologists, linguists, cultural historians, and literary scholars have long emphasized the value of examining writing as a material practice and have often invoked the list as a paradigmatic example thereof. This Focus section explores how lists can open up fresh possibilities for research in the history of science. Drawing on examples from the early modern period, the contributors argue that attention to practices of list making reveals important relations between mercantile, administrative, and scientific attempts to organize the contents of the world. Early modern lists projected both spatial and temporal visions of nature: they inventoried objects in the process of exchange and collection; they projected possible trajectories for future endeavor; they publicized the social identities of scientific practitioners; and they became research tools that transformed understandings of the natural order.
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