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    Humboldt's impasse: the mapping of the Amazon

    Martins, Luciana (2009) Humboldt's impasse: the mapping of the Amazon. In: Alexander von Humboldt and America Workshop, 2009, The British Academy, London, UK. (Unpublished)

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    Abstract

    Event synopsis: The 150th anniversary of Humboldt’s death falls this year and this conference will celebrate and interrogate his achievements. The German natural scientist, humanist, and travel writer Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859) is a familiar name, but his work and thought have been under-explored. They illuminate many contemporary issues, not least the very idea of America. Among the questions the conference will address are: Just how important was Humboldt for perceptions of America in the nineteenth century and indeed subsequently? With changing history, what does his perspective on Latino/Hispanic history contribute, notably to understandings of Cuba, Mexico and the Andean region? His work also poses deep questions about literary genre: with time his scientific writings are taking on qualities found in poetry or memoir writing. Is the pursuit of knowledge destined to turn into lasting works of imagination? While anthropologists, historians, and natural scientists have long valued Humboldt’s data collections, his narrative talents, which allowed him to weave together scientific details with philosophical, literary-aesthetic, social and political insights, have only recently attracted the attention of literary scholars. How adequate are the translations through which English-speaking readers approach his work (originally written in French and German)? How significant was Humboldt as a travel writer? To what extent does his scientific work still have validity and usefulness today?

    Metadata

    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Other)
    School: Birkbeck Schools and Departments > School of Arts > Cultures and Languages
    Research Centre: Iberian and Latin American Visual Studies, Centre for (CILAVS), Birkbeck Knowledge Lab
    Depositing User: Sarah Hall
    Date Deposited: 11 Aug 2014 15:29
    Last Modified: 12 Dec 2016 13:45
    URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/10381

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