Tools for Historians of Science Drift 25, Rm. 103 Organized Session
24 Jul 2019 09:00 AM - 11:45 AM(Europe/Amsterdam)
20190724T0900 20190724T1145 Europe/Amsterdam Mastering Natural Knowledge in the Portuguese Empire: Transforming Bodies, Exploring Nature, Governing Space

Quite unlike other European empires, Portugal's was marked by the persistence of a manuscript culture well into the age of print, by the decentralization of its imperial investigative institutions, and by colonial medical challenges that gave metropolitan physicians particular influence over imperial political and economic affairs. This panel explores these dimensions of Portugal's empire and their consequences for medicine and natural history at the height of European colonialism. The focus on disparate scientific protagonists, chronologies, and colonial spaces, allows each paper to explore how natural knowledge came to be perceived as a solution to the difficult problem of colonial government at a time of fierce inter-imperial competition – from the 1750's to the early twentieth century. If it was unquestionable to naturalists, physicians, as well as to both colonial and metropolitan administrators that the effective government of empire entailed reaping the formidable natural fecundity of Portuguese colonies, this goal remained enduringly elusive. Through an examination of visual and material culture, natural and anthropological collections, labor regimes and power structures, this panel reflects on the importance of natural landscape, built space, travel, and material circulations for the production of knowledge. Rather than choosing between object-centered or human-centered histories, we consider the crucial role of both subjects and objects to knowledge making in the context of Portugal's imperial desiderata. From the Brazilian sertão, to the Angolan hinterlands , São Tomé's cocoa plantations, and the Lisbon National Museum, we explore how natural knowledge was concomitantly used to transform bodies, explore nature, and govern space.

 

Drift 25, Rm. 103 History of Science Society 2019 meeting@hssonline.org

Quite unlike other European empires, Portugal's was marked by the persistence of a manuscript culture well into the age of print, by the decentralization of its imperial investigative institutions, and by colonial medical challenges that gave metropolitan physicians particular influence over imperial political and economic affairs. This panel explores these dimensions of Portugal's empire and their consequences for medicine and natural history at the height of European colonialism. The focus on disparate scientific protagonists, chronologies, and colonial spaces, allows each paper to explore how natural knowledge came to be perceived as a solution to the difficult problem of colonial government at a time of fierce inter-imperial competition – from the 1750's to the early twentieth century. If it was unquestionable to naturalists, physicians, as well as to both colonial and metropolitan administrators that the effective government of empire entailed reaping the formidable natural fecundity of Portuguese colonies, this goal remained enduringly elusive. Through an examination of visual and material culture, natural and anthropological collections, labor regimes and power structures, this panel reflects on the importance of natural landscape, built space, travel, and material circulations for the production of knowledge. Rather than choosing between object-centered or human-centered histories, we consider the crucial role of both subjects and objects to knowledge making in the context of Portugal's imperial desiderata. From the Brazilian sertão, to the Angolan hinterlands , São Tomé's cocoa plantations, and the Lisbon National Museum, we explore how natural knowledge was concomitantly used to transform bodies, explore nature, and govern space.

 

Organized by Patrícia Martins Marcos

"To Study What Is Ours": Scientific and Political Representations of Africa in the Lisbon Zoological Museum, 1862-1881View Abstract
Organized Session 09:00 AM - 09:30 AM (Europe/Amsterdam) 2019/07/24 07:00:00 UTC - 2019/07/24 07:30:00 UTC
Between 1862 and 1881, the director of the Zoological Section of the Museu Nacional de Lisboa, José Vicente Barbosa du Bocage (1823-1907), launched and consolidated a research program to study national fauna supported by the addition of new collections. The characteristic fauna of Portuguese land and seas should no longer be unknown in the rest of Europe neither misrepresented in the existing national collections. The scope of the national fauna considered metropolitan territories as well as imperial possessions and, according to Bocage, all of these geographical regions should be studied by “our own” instead of foreign naturalists and explorers. Lacking the resources of larger museums, Bocage leaned on the individual participation of collaborators both at home and distributed along the many distant outposts of the Portuguese empire. The nationalistic tone set by Bocage gradually yielded results and the work with the new collections allowed for an active new museum which in turn enabled the publication of tens of new species, with a particular emphasis on Angolan vertebrate fauna. The descriptive taxonomic work in the Lisbon museum relied on local information, indigenous names, and specimens gathered from Portuguese colonial officials and collectors on the field. This paper considers this particular form of taxonomic and zoogeographical knowledge as a political field that substantiated the national rhetoric of appropriation and justification in the construction of the Portuguese African empire.
Presenters Catarina Madruga
CIUHCT, University Of Lisbon
Medical Practices in Early 20th Century São Tomé’s Cocoa PlantationsView Abstract
Organized Session 09:30 AM - 10:00 AM (Europe/Amsterdam) 2019/07/24 07:30:00 UTC - 2019/07/24 08:00:00 UTC
This paper aims to discuss the medical practices in the cocoa plantations of São Tomé, a Portuguese colony in the Gulf of Guinea. As in other contexts, São Tomé’s plantations were dependent on large contingents of displaced black laborers, framed by different institutions from slavery to indentureship. When in the early 1900s the territory became the world’s most important cocoa producer, local mortality rates reached 20% and the island’s coercive and deadly labour system caught international attention. By then, white physicians came to occupy a prominent position. Framing plantations as specific repertoires of imperial power, this text argues that those experts were important actors in the maintenance of its racial politics of difference. Attributing the persistence of and susceptivity to diseases to degenerated black bodies and black cultures became a common trope. Physicians established a correlation between specific diseases, such as pneumonia and dysentery, and black’s “immoderate habits”, such as alcoholism and dirt eating. Also “nostalgia for the motherland” was framed as a pathological condition leading to suicide. Medical authority over what were conceived as racial constituted diseases, deviant behaviors and psychological weakness demanded institutions and spaces of surveillance and confinement. Along with hospitals, the redesign of plantation housing quarters became part of these professionals tasks. As such, I will try to show how physicians brought together a focus on bodies and on the plantation built environment, connecting racialized biological and spatial practices in a single narrative.
Presenters
MM
Marta Macedo
University Of Lisbon
Encounters in Africa: When Livingstone Met WelwitschView Abstract
Organized Session 10:15 AM - 10:45 AM (Europe/Amsterdam) 2019/07/24 08:15:00 UTC - 2019/07/24 08:45:00 UTC
From 1851 onwards, coinciding with a period of relative political stability, Portugal achieved the necessary conditions for the development of its imperial plan. The Portuguese Government believed in the wealth of its African possessions, despite several public discussions about the future of the territories in the 1860s. The expedition Iter Angolense (1853–1860), led by Friedrich Martin Joseph Welwitsch (1806–1872) an Austrian doctor and botanist, occurred at a time when the imperial plan became established. Welwitsch was sent by the Portuguese Crown to what is known today as Angola. The objective was to collect data, plants, animals, and minerals for scientific analysis and to ascertain their economic potential. On 3 September 1859, Welwitsch was the first European to describe the famous Namib Desert plant, later named Welwitschia mirabilis in his honour. During this expedition, the botanist met David Livingstone (1813–1873), the famous explorer, doctor, geographer and missionary. Although the fact Welwitsch and Livingstone met while they were in Angola is recognized, this encounter has hitherto been studied in depth. These famous explorers met at Golungo Alto in 1854, and this encounter would affect both of them in different ways. This work in progress intends to explore the networks of knowledge and the impact of this encounter in a period that preceded the formation of the Society of Geography, Lisbon (1875) and the Scramble for Africa.
Presenters
AS
ANGELA SALGUEIRO
ANGELA SALGUEIRO
Sara Albuquerque
Universidade De Évora
From Place to Race: Medicine, Natural Philosophy, and Human Diversity in Eighteenth-Century BrazilView Abstract
Organized Session 10:45 AM - 11:15 AM (Europe/Amsterdam) 2019/07/24 08:45:00 UTC - 2019/07/24 09:15:00 UTC
To the early modern imagination, Brazil was a land of natural and human wilderness. I investigate this metonym by focusing on the centrality of human beings and their bodies to Portuguese projects of imperial expansion. I trace changes between Aristotelian views of humanity ascribed to Jesuit missionaries, compare them to emergent secular ideas on the pliability of human nature, and contrast both these models to Alexandre Rodrigues Ferreira’s (1756-1815) effort of applying the Linnaean grid of natural classification to Brazilian nature and its naturals. Portuguese emphasis on agricultural labor and miscegenation hinged on the body as a key to colonization. My study of the Directório dos Índios law (1758-1798) explores how after the 1750 border expansion, Amerindians were redefined as royal vassals with the aim of augmenting the population and settling the new imperial border. Stress on natural improvement drew from medical-humoral ideas positing that uncivilized Índios could harvest their new Portuguese natures by farming the land and rationally transforming their natural environment. Additionally, focus on monogamy and miscegenation redefined the female indigenous body as the epicenter of a new colonial frontier. Contrary to the Directório’s project of human transformation, Ferreira’s Amazonian journeys (1783-1792) foreshadowed the emergence of a racialized discourse. Ferreira’s focus on accommodating Brazilian nature to a Linnaean taxonomy intimated a schematic view of botanical and human nature. Bodies were no longer porous and subject to fluidity or modification because their place in the system of nature was now fixed to a set of essential, immutable corporeal characteristics.
Presenters Patrícia Martins Marcos
Patrícia Martins Marcos
Commentary: Mastering Natural Knowledge in the Portuguese Empire: Transforming Bodies, Exploring Nature, Governing SpaceView Abstract
Organized Session 11:15 AM - 11:45 AM (Europe/Amsterdam) 2019/07/24 09:15:00 UTC - 2019/07/24 09:45:00 UTC
Presenters
HC
Hugh Cagle
University Of Utah
CIUHCT, University of Lisbon
University of Lisbon
Universidade de Évora
ANGELA SALGUEIRO
Patrícia Martins Marcos
+ 1 more speakers. View All
University of Utah
Phd student - Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales
College of William and Mary
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