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Secret Science: Spanish Cosmography and the…
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Secret Science: Spanish Cosmography and the New World (vuoden 2009 painos)

Tekijä: María M. Portuondo (Tekijä)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioKeskustelut
321740,569 (4)-
The discovery of the New World raised many questions for early modern scientists: What did these lands contain? Where did they lie in relation to Europe? Who lived there, and what were their inhabitants like? Imperial expansion necessitated changes in the way scientific knowledge was gathered, and Spanish cosmographers in particular were charged with turning their observations of the New World into a body of knowledge that could be used for governing the largest empire the world had ever known.As Mari?a M. Portuondo here shows, this cosmographic knowledge had considerable st… (lisätietoja)
Jäsen:IrysAle
Teoksen nimi:Secret Science: Spanish Cosmography and the New World
Kirjailijat:María M. Portuondo (Tekijä)
Info:University of Chicago Press (2009), 352 pages
Kokoelmat:Ciencia., Historia, Oma kirjasto
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Secret Science: Spanish Cosmography and the New World (tekijä: María M. Portuondo)

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In Secret Science, María Portuondo of the History of Science and Technology Department at Johns Hopkins University analyzes the operations, output, and milieu of Spanish cosmographers from the mid-fifteenth century to the early-seventeenth century, when the country was exploring and settling the New World. Portuondo has thoroughly mined archival and secondary sources for her work, and provides the most thorough biographies (in English) of the prominent Spanish cosmographers of the day. She throws new light on the reasons for Spanish scientific and cartographic secrecy and how the sheer newness and immensity of the Americas altered cosmographic practices and imperial bureaucracy. Over this period, Portuondo contends, the humanistic discipline of cosmography served more and more as the adjunct to empire building, becoming increasingly specialized, mathematized, and bureaucratized.

Portuondo’s analysis of Spanish cosmography in the century or so after the discovery of the New World succeeds in placing the work of such scholars in their proper governmental and bureaucratic setting. Her contention that the vast immensity of knowledge overwhelmed Renaissance methods of description is interesting and compelling, forcing an emphasis on useful, utilitarian knowledge—facts that would aid in the maintenance of empire. In this scenario, for instance, Velasco’s failure to write about the relaciones geográficas was not due to his disappointment about their oftentimes Amerindian-style content, but because government strictures and the inadequacy of Renaissance methodologies to process the information precluded any such writings. Velasco was instead compiling a database of useful knowledge for the ruling of the empire. (The tendency of bureaucracy to hamper output with tedious rules and regulations is made apparent, but it is never explicitly cited as a cause for the lack of narrative output by Spain’s cosmographers.) Portuondo’s contention that the information gathered and sifted by Spanish state scholars tended to become more systematized and scientific over time makes sense as well: the history of conquest and the tiresome recounting of native mythologies did not aid lawmakers in Spain, but precise and accurate maps, rutters, and tables did. She concludes that by focusing on utilitarian solutions to the problems of imperial governance “little room was left for scientific speculation” (p. 302). Thus, Portundo concludes, Spanish cosmographic science has suffered when compared to the work of others in Europe. This last contention would have been strengthened by comparing the methods and output of Spanish cosmographers to their peers outside the Iberian Peninsula. Despite this minor drawback, Secret Science is an excellent addition to the literature for historians of science and the cartography of the age of discovery and conquest, highlighting Spanish cosmography’s role in governing an empire. ( )
  tuckerresearch | Jul 16, 2013 |
In the autumn of 1571, Juan López de Velasco, an ambitious legal scholar with one eye on the heavens, accepted the coveted position of chief cosmographer and chronicler to Philip II, the King of Spain. Velasco received a salary hike and a trunk filled with invaluable documents collected by his predecessor. In the years that followed, the maps, treatises and narrative accounts found inside the trunk revealed the geography of a new world to this enthusiastic map-maker, whose job included updating the empire's navigational charts and keeping ships' pilots and government bureaucrats informed of any new geographical data retrieved from overseas. Velasco sat at the centre of one of the most successful information-gathering operations the world had ever known. But his work remained secret for centuries. . .
Similarly to Velasco's chest of cartographic treasures, Portuondo's study reveals valuable evidence with which scholars can refashion their images of the Renaissance world and the achievements of Spanish science at the dawn of modernity.
lisäsi jlelliott | muokkaaNature, Neil Safier (maksullinen sivusto) (Sep 9, 2009)
 
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The discovery of the New World raised many questions for early modern scientists: What did these lands contain? Where did they lie in relation to Europe? Who lived there, and what were their inhabitants like? Imperial expansion necessitated changes in the way scientific knowledge was gathered, and Spanish cosmographers in particular were charged with turning their observations of the New World into a body of knowledge that could be used for governing the largest empire the world had ever known.As Mari?a M. Portuondo here shows, this cosmographic knowledge had considerable st

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