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A Social History of Knowledge, Volume 2: From the by Peter Burke

By Peter Burke

Peter Burke follows up his magisterial Social background of information, settling on up the place the 1st quantity left off round 1750 on the booklet of the French Encyclopédie and following the tale via to Wikipedia. just like the earlier quantity, it bargains a social background (or a retrospective sociology of data) within the experience that it focuses now not on members yet on teams, associations, collective practices and basic trends.
The publication is split into three elements. the 1st argues that actions which seem to be undying - accumulating wisdom, analysing, disseminating and utilising it - are in reality time-bound and take various kinds in numerous sessions and areas. the second one half attempts to counter the tendency to put in writing a triumphalist heritage of the 'growth' of data by means of discussing losses of information and the cost of specialization. The 3rd half bargains geographical, sociological and chronological overviews, contrasting the event of centres and peripheries and arguing that every of the most developments of the interval - professionalization, secularization, nationalization, democratization, and so on, coexisted and interacted with its opposite.

As ever, Peter Burke offers a breath-taking diversity of scholarship in prose of exemplary readability and accessibility. This hugely expected moment quantity should be crucial studying around the humanities and social sciences.

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Additional resources for A Social History of Knowledge, Volume 2: From the Encyclopaedia to Wikipedia

Example text

Imperial governments were particularly concerned to survey their territories. India, for instance, was surveyed from 1764 onwards by a team led by Major James Rennell, soon to be appointed surveyor-general. Many other kinds of survey (or, as the French called them, enquêtes, ‘enquiries’) were undertaken in this period: geological, ethnographic, archaeological, botanical, and so on. Early examples include the geological survey of Canada (1842); the ethnographic survey conducted by the Russian Geographical Society (1848); and the Pacific Railroad Surveys of the American West in the mid-nineteenth century.

These four stages will be discussed in order in part I of this book, introducing further distinctions along the way. This chapter focuses on the first stage, the process of collecting or gathering knowledge. Gathering Knowledge Vivid metaphors such as ‘collecting’ or ‘gathering’ knowledge conjure up an obviously oversimplified picture, as if knowledge could be picked up like shells from the seashore or pulled from bushes and trees like fruit or netted like butterflies. 5 These terms are used here as no more than shorthand for a series of processes that include exploring, observing, surveying and experimenting, not to mention buying, looting and, not least, asking questions and listening to local informants.

The Tangut city of Khara-Khoto in western China was excavated by the Russian Pyotr Kozlov in 1907–9. The Inca city of Machu Picchu was discovered in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham (with the help of a local farmer), while systematic excavations of the Mayan remains at Palenque began in 1934. Anthropological expeditions were also made at this time. Among the best known are the Jesup North Pacific Expedition (1897–1902), in which Franz Boas participated; the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to Torres Straits (1898), actually an interdisciplinary enterprise; and the French Mission Dakar-Djibouti (1931–3), which included a leading anthropologist, Marcel Griaule.

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