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
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)"
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.