Article ID: CBB960505331

Not inconceivable: Knowledge-production, the arts, and the pre-history of a Puerto Rican artist, 1934–1882 (2020)


This essay gives an account of the pre-history for Puerto Rican artist Raphael Montañez, Jr. (b. 1934), not by turning to his family tree or to his artistic and intellectual influences. Nor do I proffer a preexisting historical “context” that then explains the artist and his art against the backdrop of his “times.” Instead, I use the occasion of his birth to establish the interrelationship between science and art amidst struggles for political self-determination in the last decades of the Spanish Empire and the first four decades in the formation of the U.S. as an empire in the hemisphere. In going backwards from 1934 to 1882, I connect the formation of the National Archives in the U.S. with the first call for a Puerto Rican national museum by physician and natural scientist Agustín Stahl over fifty years earlier. These institutions are guided by a scientific evidence-based imperative to collect, organize, and describe, and they serve as central tools in nation-building projects, whether among the colonized or colonizer. At both sites, art serves both rational and affective roles in connecting artifacts to national belonging as a product of historical facts and inevitability, family romance, and sacral obligation. Rather than seeing art, science, politics, and religion as discrete, or even as overlapping, categories, I consider how they are mutually constitutive forms of knowledge-production organized around destruction.

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Authors & Contributors
Juliana Genevieve Souza André
Robert L. Johnson
Schaberg, Christopher
Patricia O'Reilly
Federico Paolini
James R. Kieselburg
IA. The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology
Circumscribere: International Journal for the History of Science
Scientia Canadensis: Journal of the History of Canadian Science, Technology, and Medicine
Pharmacy in History
Garbely Publishing Company
Basilisken-Presse im Verlag Natur & Text
Zero Books
Fordham University
Utah State University Press
University Press of Colorado
Industrial archaeology
Technology and art
Knowledge production (modes)
Bohm, David Joseph
Wood, Grant
Curry, John Steuart
Benton, Thomas Hart
Higby, Gregory J.
Time Periods
20th century
19th century
20th century, early
21st century
20th century, late
United States
Puerto Rico
Great Britain
Haciena Buena Vista
Nevada (U.S.)
Western Clay Manufacturing Compoany (Helena, MT )
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS); Morman Chuch

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