Raphael Uchôa: "From the State of Nature to the State of Ruins"

  • Date: –15:00
  • Location: Engelska parken - The Rausing Room
  • Organiser: Department of History of Science and Ideas
  • Contact person: H. Otto Sibum
  • Seminarium

Office for History of Science

Raphael Uchôa, CESIMA, São Paulo & Uppsala University: "From the State of Nature to the State of Ruins: American Race and Savage Knowledge in the Eyes of Carl von Martius (1794-1868)"


Abstract
The focus of the present study is on the notions of ‘ruins’, ‘savage knowledge’ and ‘American race’ in the works of the Bavarian naturalist Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius (1794-1868). A somewhat neglected figure in the history of natural history, in the nineteenth century Martius was regarded by European, South and North American scholars as a leading figure in botany and ethnology. In this paper I discuss how Martius articulated: (1) the notion of American race, namely, a broad characterisation of the native peoples of the Americas rooted in a complex natural history which brought together seemingly disparate fields of knowledge, such as medicine, botany, theology, philology and mythology; (2) having ruins as guiding concept, which helped Martius make sense of the American natives; and (3) savage knowledge—a concept semantically aligned to the one of ruins, and which found in shamanic practice one of its principal modes of expression.