Article ID: CBB802316426

Contextualising the “American race” in the Atlantic: The case of Carl von Martius and his German and Iberian sources (2019)


This paper addresses the place of the Bavarian scholar Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius (1794–1868) within the complex process of development of a ‘natural history of man’ in the nineteenth century. Martius’ understanding of natural history primarily focused on the notion of ‘American race’, i.e. one of the four or five races described by J.F. Blumenbach and C. Linnaeus. In this paper, I elucidate the geopolitical and intellectual coordinates which circumscribed Martius’ thought. I call the attention to the influence of the so-called German ‘Romantic science,’ as well as to Iberian sources which played a crucial role in Martius’ construction of the notion of the ‘American man.’ Martius’ travel narratives created grounds for a transatlantic natural history, in which the unit of analysis is the South Atlantic Ocean and involves a complex and archaic consortium of monarchs. This geopolitical alignment was circumscribed by religious, economic, and scientific ties which connected several nation-states and empires, including Austria, Bavaria, Brazil and Portugal.

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Authors & Contributors
Kenyon-Jones, Christine
Jackson, John P., Jr.
Weidman, Nadine M.
Sánchez Arteaga, Juan Manuel
Schweizer, Stefan
Facos, Michelle
História, Ciências, Saúde---Manguinhos
History of the Human Sciences
Asclepio: Archivo Iberoamericano de Historia de la Medicina
Interdisciplinary Science Reviews
Archives Internationales d'Histoire des Sciences
Natura Alpina, Rivista della Società di Scienze Naturali del Trentino
University of Chicago Press
Gondolat Verlag
Science and race
Physical anthropology
Natural history
Science and literature
Martius, Karl Friedrich Philipp von
Bergh, Richard
Morton, Samuel George
Rugendas, Johann Moritz
Cunha, Euclides da
Boule, Pierre Marcellin
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
18th century
20th century
United States
Great Britain
University of Edinburgh

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