By Peter Burke
Peter Burke follows up his magisterial Social historical past of information, identifying up the place the 1st quantity left off round 1750 on the ebook of the French Encyclopédie and following the tale via to Wikipedia. just like the prior quantity, it bargains a social heritage (or a retrospective sociology of data) within the feel that it focuses now not on participants yet on teams, associations, collective practices and common trends.
The e-book is split into three elements. the 1st argues that actions which seem to be undying - collecting wisdom, analysing, disseminating and utilizing it - are actually time-bound and take various kinds in numerous classes and locations. the second one half attempts to counter the tendency to jot down a triumphalist background of the 'growth' of information by way of discussing losses of data and the cost of specialization. The 3rd half deals geographical, sociological and chronological overviews, contrasting the adventure of centres and peripheries and arguing that every of the most traits of the interval - professionalization, secularization, nationalization, democratization, and so forth, coexisted and interacted with its opposite.
As ever, Peter Burke provides a breath-taking variety of scholarship in prose of exemplary readability and accessibility. This hugely expected moment quantity could be crucial analyzing around the humanities and social sciences.
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Extra resources for A Social History of Knowledge, Volume 2: From the Encyclopaedia to Wikipedia
The idea of the specimen was extended to human artefacts. A British mail order catalogue of 1896 offered for sale a list of so-called Ethnological Specimens. Human skeletons and skulls, especially those of non-western peoples, were treated as specimens and removed from graves without permission. The Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin still houses over 6,000 skulls, collected in the later nineteenth century in the heyday of ‘craniology’ (below, pp. 39 In the sixteenth century, individuals from the Tupinambá people had been taken from Brazil to France, to be displayed as curiosities or trophies rather than to gain knowledge (though Montaigne took the opportunity to question them through an interpreter).
Spain and Britain were both interested in the northwest coast of the Pacific (nearly coming to blows over the possession of Nootka Sound), and in the 1790s both countries mounted expeditions to survey the area. The United States Survey of the Coast (1808) offers an early instance of government support for research. Imperial governments were particularly concerned to survey their territories. India, for instance, was surveyed from 1764 onwards by a team led by Major James Rennell, soon to be appointed surveyor-general.
Employed on occasion before 1750, the term became increasingly common in book titles from the mid-eighteenth century onwards in a number of European languages – recherches, ricerche, Forschung, and so on – to describe investigations in a variety of intellectual fields, among them anatomy, astronomy, political economy, demography, geography, physics, chemistry, palaeontology, medicine, history and oriental studies. To cite only a few famous examples: 1768 de Pauw, Recherches philosophiques sur les américains 1788–the journal Asiatic Researches 1794 Lamarck, Recherches sur les principaux faits physiques 1799 Davy, Researches, Chemical and Philosophical 1812 Cuvier, Recherches sur les ossemens fossiles 1838 Cournot, Recherches sur les principes mathématiques de la théorie des richesses The examples mentioned above concern research carried out in archives, museums and laboratories, but others involved what we now call ‘fieldwork’, as in the obvious case of exploration.