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James Delbourgo; Nicholas Dew, editors. Science and Empire in the Atlantic World. New York: Routledge, 2007. 384 pp. $95 Cloth, $31.95 paper.
This anthology investigates the relationship between scientific study and the natural environment of the early modern Atlantic world with 12 chapters on navigation, empirical observations of nature, aboriginal discoveries later claimed by European scientists, and the mechanics of gathering and transmitting knowledge. Together these essays form an argument that Atlantic imperial travelers, whose discoveries and observations often made them accidental scientists, did more than shape colonial development in the Americas and West Africa and provide novelties to their patrons in Europe. Rather, along with the people and the environment they encountered in their travels, Europeans in the Americas and West Africa also shaped methods of pursuing scientific knowledge. Beyond an account and analysis of science specific to the early modern Atlantic world, this book debates the long-observed notion that science and knowledge production must be ruled by elite groups rather than result from diffuse knowledge-gathering and propagation among less well-appointed and recognized scientists. --Amy Leyva
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