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David Pingree Memorial Seminar: Empires and Exact Sciences in Pre-Modern Eurasia

  • 2006-05-29
  • 2006-05-30
  • Leiden University Council Room
Historians of science devote great attention to the imposition and reception of modern scientific theories in colonial societies. Typical themes include the ways science was used rhetorically and politically to maintain the superiority of the colonizers, and strategies of rejection and appropriation by the colonized. Important as they are, these topics can give the misleading impression that encounters with alien science were strictly a phenomenon of modern global imperialism. In fact, political expansion and exposure to new cultures have been reflected in changing scientific traditions since antiquity, including the spread of Graeco-Roman dominance into the Near East and North Africa, and the subsequent merging of many former territories of the Roman Empire, along with parts of Iranian, Indian, and Chinese cultures, into the growing realm of Islam. This seminar will address the explicit recognition and assimilation (or modification) of ‘foreign’ elements in the exact sciences, changes within existing scientific traditions in imitation of foreign texts and practices.

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