Article ID: CBB000954053

When Science Became Western: Historiographical Reflections (2010)


Elshakry, Marwa S. (Author)

Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Volume: 101
Pages: 98--109

Publication Date: 2010
Edition Details: Focus: Global Histories of Science
Language: English

While thinking about the notion of the global in the history of the history of science, this essay examines a related but equally basic concept: the idea of Western science. Tracing its rise in the nineteenth century, it shows how it developed as much outside the Western world as within it. Ironically, while the idea itself was crucial for the disciplinary formation of the history of science, the global history behind this story has not been much attended to. Drawing on examples from nineteenth-century Egypt and China, the essay begins by looking at how international vectors of knowledge production (viz., missionaries and technocrats) created new global histories of science through the construction of novel genealogies and through a process of conceptual syncretism. Turning next to the work of early professional historians of science, it shows how Arabic and Chinese knowledge traditions were similarly reinterpreted in light of the modern sciences, now viewed as part of a diachronic and universalist teleology ending in Western science. It concludes by arguing that examining the global emergence of the idea of Western science in this way highlights key questions pertaining to the relation of the history of science to knowledge traditions across the world and the continuing search for global histories of science.

Included in

Article Sivasundaram, Sujit (2010) Introduction. Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences (p. 95). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Wright, David
Chen, Zhihui
Guo, Shi-rong
Taylor, Kim
Chiang, Howard Hsueh-Hao
Sun, Xiaochun
Ziran Kexueshi Yanjiu (Studies in the History of Natural Sciences)
Nei Menggu Shifan Daxue Xuebao (Ziran Kexue Ban)
Social History of Medicine
East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Circumscribere: International Journal for the History of Science
Brill Academic Publishers
Lexington Books
State University of New York Press
Hong Kong University Press
Pickering & Chatto
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
Cross-cultural interaction; cultural influence
Western world, civilization and culture
East Asia, civilization and culture
Globalization; internationalization
Diffusion of innovation; diffusion of knowledge; diffusion of technology
Li Hongzhang (1823-1901)
Vagnoni, Alfonso
Shao Zeng (1832-1877)
Zhu, Xi
Needham, Joseph
Chang, Jolan
Time Periods
20th century
19th century
18th century
Qing dynasty (China, 1644-1912)
Ming dynasty (China, 1368-1644)
17th century

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