Early summer (academic) reading

My brain may have been majorly dysfunctional for a week or so after the semester ended, but I find reading a good way to ramp my activity back up again. I’ve tackled THE STACK.

Actually, Newman wasn’t on the stack because it was already in my bag (I’ve been meaning to read that for a while, partly at the behest of my PhD advisor, partly because our stays at Irvine overlapped, and *ahem* partly because he commented on my paper at From Conquest to Identity and suggested his book might be pertinent–and he was right, of course), and Diouf wasn’t on the stack because I’d forgotten where I put it (it was hiding behind a stack of environmental histories, but I was reminded to go digging for it because something else I was reading–coming soon–briefly mentioned enslaved Muslims).

The WMQs are, I know, somewhat unexciting in this picture, but I stuck them in there because while my students regularly read articles from here, I suspect most have never seen the cover of a paper copy. One of these issues was clearly built around the theme of early modern natural history, the articles comprising it making the general point that geopolitical realities often shaped the body of knowledge early modern Europeans had about the natural world. One article pointed out that the networks through which English naturalists collected specimens they could subsequently study and document followed slave trade networks, meaning British ships and collectors had lots of information about West Africa and North America, but less about other parts of the world (though the asiento provided British slave traders entry into Spanish America, which meant the realm of British knowledge was not precisely contiguous with the British Empire). A second article considers the borderlands between Spanish Florida and South Carolina in the United States, a region Spanish officials recognized as Creek territory; though they believed they had located a mine in the area, they proved unwilling to alienate Creek occupants of a buffer zone who were already developing stronger ties with the U.S. as a counterbalance to Spanish power. These are good reminders that not all constraints on scientific knowledge are attributable to the scientific realm.

Okay, let’s see. So far, I’ve got one related to research/writing I’m working on this summer, one that’s just interesting, and two journal issues to keep up in my field. Decent array. On to the next.

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