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Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the editors of The Journal of

Interdisciplinary History

Author(s): Nancy G. Siraisi
Review by: Nancy G. Siraisi
Source: The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Vol. 39, No. 3 (Winter, 2009), pp. 423-424
Published by: MIT Press
Stable URL:
Accessed: 04-11-2015 19:48 UTC

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?cal insights, providing a coherent model for the ways in which past
practices can be identified and analyzed. The study explores the chang
ing forms and forums of urban, provincial social life,while also provid
ing a platform for examining the interrelationship between social prac
tices and cultural norms. Scholars who study French history and gender
history, aswell as those interested in exploring the analytical value of the
concept of social practice, will want to consult this original, well
researched book.

Victoria E. Thompson
Arizona State University

Nature, Empire, andNation: Explorations of theHistory of Science in the Ibe

rianWorld. By Jorge Ca?izares-Esguerra (Stanford, Stanford University
Press, 2006) 230 pp. $60.00 cloth $24.95 paper

collection of is not as its subtitle

Ca?izares-Esguerra's essays only,
announces, a contribution to the history of science in the Iberian
world but also to that of political and economic thought in both Spain
and Spanish America. The collection covers a chronological span from
the sixteenth to the mid-nineteenth and across a num
century ranges
ber of different areas of early modern natural knowledge. Throughout,
the author explores views and interpretations of nature from two
perspectives?that ofmetropolitan, imperial priorities and that of proto
national or, to use his term, among colo
identity, preferred patriotism
as metropolitan,
nial, as well elites and intelligentsia.
Calling attention to the role of Spanish sixteenth- and eighteenth
century imperial and commercial policies in gathering knowledge,
for new natural resources, and
searching developing technology,
that the Iberian world deserves a
Ca?izares-Esguerra argues strongly
more prominent place in the history of early modern science than it has
usually received. In his view, the sources of this neglect lie in a modern
historiography of science that long emphasized northern Europe and
privileged the exact sciences, as well as in earlier hostile attitudes to
Spanish society and religion among northern European writers, first un
der the influence of the Protestant Reformation and later under the
influence of the Enlightenment. He points out thatmuch still remains to
be learned about the role of science and technology in the far-flung and
long-lived Iberian colonial empires, notwithstanding the attention now
paid to such disciplines as early modern botany and natural history.
Metropolitan concerns are treated most fully in the chapter
"Eighteenth-Century Spanish Political Economy," which shows that a
series of patriotic authors argued vigorously about causes and remedies
of perceived national decline, while reacting strongly against negative
assessments from abroad. Other trace the
coming chapters development
of scientific interests, arguments, and institutions among intellectuals in

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the largely autonomous viceroyalties that comprised the Spanish empire.

Thus, the "New World, New Stars" shows that seventeenth
century Creole reaction to claims (deriving from ancient theories linking
the stars, the climate, and the character of peoples) that astral influences
peculiar to theNew World enfeebled its inhabitants played a part in the
of theories about a racialized human body.
The chapter "How Derivative was Humboldt" provides a thought
ful re-assessment of the relationship of Alexander von Humboldt's in
vestigation of bio-distribution in the Andes to earlier accounts of An
dean climate and natural history, "a long-standing tradition of thinking
about the American viceroy al ties as Edenic microcosms" (128). The last
chapter, "Landscapes and Identities," extends the interdisciplinary range
of the volume to the history of art in an exploration of the interaction of
patriotism, historical narrative, and nature study in thework ofMexican
landscape painters during the second half of the nineteenth century.
All of the essays in this book except one were previously published
in earlier versions, but as revised and united in this volume they consti
tute a coherent whole. Therein, contributes valuable
insights and some incisive historiographical critiques.
Nancy G. Siraisi
Hunter College and the Graduate Center
City University of New York

Raising an Empire: Children inEarly Modern Iberia and Colonial Latin Amer
ica. Edited by Ondina E. Gonz?lez and Bianca Premo (Albuquerque,
University of New Mexico Press, 2007) 25$ PP- $24-95

The contributions to thiswelcome volume on the history of childhood

in early modern Spain and Portugal and their American colonies reveal
the inner of colonization?of or an em
workings creating, "raising,"
pire. The authors explore changing concepts of childhood and recon
struct children's experiences within several nested contexts: the family,
the life course, institutions for children, and trends in adults' expecta
tions of children. Premo observes that this volume also pushes the his
tory of childhood in new directions. Instead of limiting their inquiry to
recovering hidden histories of childhood, the contributors present the
complex interpersonal and political worlds that children inhabited
and link "everyday patterns of growing up" to "traditional historical
themes," evincing an approach that illuminates children's agency within
the systems of power that surrounded and shaped them (244).
Geographically diverse and spanning more than three centuries, the
chapters are organized in overlapping chronological order, beginning
with sixteenth-century Portugal and ending with a study of child
rearing practices among African slaves in Brazil, where slavery lasted un

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All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions