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7813 - The invention of scientific photography: expeditions and collections in the Caribbean

The paper focuses on photographic collections related to the ambition of nation-founding and science driven the State. Argentina and Brazil are early examples for understanding the scientific knowledge production related to the institutionalization of modern European sciences. The paper will look at the scientific and technological transfers materialized through photography, comparing both cases. Taking into account that the scientific field was dominated mainly by Europeans and especially German scientists during the 19 th century, who started to employ photography in an innovative way, North American scientists conquered later this field: photography as an image technology became a new means to conquer and explore efficiently new spaces and resources. At the same time photography was an important component of the modern institutionalization of sciences in independent South America that included the foundation of museums such as Museo Histórico Nacional (Brazil) or Museo de la Plata (Argentina), dedicated to academic collections that challenge both concepts of knowledge and academia as well as collection and museum. By “classifying knowledge” scientific expeditions and in this context emerging photographic collections significantly shaped modern knowledge production, perception and representation of South America. Thus, the paper proposes a historical reconstruction of scientific photography and its first academic collections, looking especially at the German-Latin American institutional entanglement by verifying the correlation of visualization, visibility and knowledge production that define, nevertheless, academic collections as agents of self-descriptions, cultural self-reflection and American identity.      

Keywords: science ¿ photography ¿ collections ¿ cultural identity

Author: Gomez-Popescu, Liliana (Institut f. Romanistik, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Germany / Deutschland)

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