The image of Humboldt as a towering genius in the wilderness is largely an invention or fabrication. Humboldt did not invent nature in a flash on the snowy slopes of Chimborazo. Many of the Prussian aristocrat’s central contentions were derivative or experiential, while others were sharply contested if not flatly rejected, often for good reason. Recent scholarship suggests that Humboldt’s itineraries, collections, concepts and images were in many cases anticipated by Hispanic Americans and made possible by pre-existing networks. Lamentably, much popular and academic writing on Humboldt continues to cultivate a mythic or heroic image that ignores this scholarship, thereby contributing to what we call Humboldtism. Humboldtism is a romantic rhetorical tradition with imperial and national variations that exalts the man’s solitary genius while ignoring the historicity of his views and legacies, in particular the Hispanic American origins of many of the concepts embedded in his work.
In this LAGLOBAL-FLACSO international symposium, scholars of the Hispanic American and European enlightenments will unpack the history of Humboldtism, presenting the latest research on the epistemic regimes, networks, and itineraries that enabled Humboldt’s science, rhetoric and legacies.
This symposium coincides with the CHIMBORAZO SUMMER SCHOOL and the launch of a postgraduate degree programme at FLACSO in the HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY OF KNOWLEDGE.
Please send 200-word abstract of paper proposal and 1-page cv by April 15, 2019 to Virginia Ghelarducci at firstname.lastname@example.org. For informal queries, please contact Mark Thurner at email@example.com or Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Institute of Latin Americann Studies
School of Advanced Study
University of London