I read half of this book for a class. This is a book about a scientist that reads almost like a whodunnit. It starts slow and Geison's enthusiasm forI read half of this book for a class. This is a book about a scientist that reads almost like a whodunnit. It starts slow and Geison's enthusiasm for recounting all the details of Pasteur's notebooks can be at times wearisome; but there are some exciting twists and turns in the narrative. I was particularly intrigued by the questions of Pasteru's bioethics.
The book would have benefited from a comparative approach that would have shown Pasteur as competing with a host of other scientists racing to answer similar questions around Europe (e.g., Koch). By focusing his narrative primarily on Pasteur, Geison presents him as less a scientific genius who rigorously followed 'the scientific method' than a diligent worker and master showman who had a nose for where the publicity and money were, and was skilled at producing convincing spectacles.
The overall effect of "The Private Science..." is that while Geison's Pasteur may no longer appear morally 'great' or his science above politics, he nonetheless remains an exceptional figure of history—one who knew how to mobilize his allies to ensure 'his' science won the day. It's an odd historiographical result for an author who seems intent on taking Pasteur 'down a peg.'...more
Long makes an interesting intervention to argue that debates between theory and practice goes back to the very 'start' of the Renaissance and conflictLong makes an interesting intervention to argue that debates between theory and practice goes back to the very 'start' of the Renaissance and conflicts between scholastic knowledge and the rise of humanism. I liked the first chapter, with its attention to previous historiography of practical knowledge and the ideological shades that colored their telling. Unfortunately, the subsequent chapters just didn't seem to carry through her argument. As another student in my class commented, this book really should have its title appended "... in Italy," as her entire source base seems to come from there. In addition, the books is quite short (just four chapters) and is drawn from a series of lectures. Sometimes lectures-as-books provides a more free-flowing, easy-to-follow authorial voice. In this case, though, the book just felt meandering and I often forgot the arguments the examples were meant to illustrate....more
I read the first half of this book for a class, and I will need to come back and finish the rest sometime soon.
This book offers a series of fascinatiI read the first half of this book for a class, and I will need to come back and finish the rest sometime soon.
This book offers a series of fascinating explorations of how the first Western eyes (e.g., Mungo Park) were no mere observers of African, but served as forward patrols for colonial conquest. The seeds of Western comparative thought can be found in their missives and accounts, which were wildly popular in Europe and became useful for forming a colonial sensibility about who Africans 'were' and how their land could be appropriated to colonial ends.
Pratt is trained in linguistic studies and that skill is put to good use here. She offers close and skillful analyses of the ways in which pronouns, tenses, and form all represent ways in which the colonial subject is produced through a construction of the "Other."
I know (but haven't yet read) that in later chapters, she addresses more contemporary writers, including one of my ol' favorites, Paul Thoureax. I love that Peace Corps misanthrope, but he had it coming. ...more
This book offers a fascinating thesis: that Native Americans offered the British a canvas upon which they constructed their sense of self—but that thiThis book offers a fascinating thesis: that Native Americans offered the British a canvas upon which they constructed their sense of self—but that this image was fraught with anxieties and fluctuated distinctly during the British colonial experiment in the Americas.
Her first chapter expertly outlines her project, her method, and her historiographical interventions. I was hooked.
Then I read the rest of the book and found the arguments pretty much repeated, with little nuance despite the innumerable examples Chaplin musters to her cause. Each chapter seemed to follow a similar pattern: she seemed to fall into a habit of telling you what she was going to argue, then proceeding to bury you with dozens of examples supporting her argument, then repeating her arguments at the end of the chapter. Looking back, I could have just skipped over the evidence, just read her arguments, and came away from the book with a very similar level of understanding.
Also, Chaplin had a habit of ascribing motive to her actors. The British, she seemed to suggest (though never outright), knew they were racists and were drawing racist conclusions about the Native Americans in order to justify their taking their land from them. Yet this is never substantiated by Chaplin's evidence. They seem to sincerely believe the Indians are sickly, lack technology, and the proper dispositions to develop and 'own' their land.
That these arguments, alone, seemed to provide British colonists a justification for displacing and killing Native Americans should be a frightening enough conclusion for us to consider. That Chaplin feels the need to ascribe a racial false consciousness on top of it all seems like an overkill. ...more