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Sandra Rebok, From the Spanish Royal Court to the White House: Alexander Von Humboldt’s Quest for Knowledge in a World of Politics

November 19, 2020 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Co-sponsored by the Center for German and European Studies; the Max Kade Institute for German-American Studies; Friends of the Max Kade Institute; the Center for Culture, History & the Environment; the Department of German, Nordic, & Slavic at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; with funding provided by the University Lectures Anonymous Fund. 

This live, virtual event is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required! Email Antje Petty (apetty@wisc.edu) to receive a link to the event.

2019 marked the 250th anniversary of Alexander von Humboldt, the Prussian explorer, naturalist, historian and humanist, whose comprehensive work has sparked universal scientific theories and movements to this day. This lecture discusses Humboldt’s role between the declining Spanish empire and the rising American nation at the time of his visit to the United States in the spring of 1804. It analyzes the delicate balance Humboldt struck between science and politics, focusing on how he made use of the political connections offered by monarchical Spain on the one hand and Jefferson’s cabinet on the other, while the two nations, in turn, used his scientific work for their own strategic purposes. Rather than being caught between the interests of these two nations (and those of others), Humboldt created what can be called an Empire of Knowledge, an elaborate worldwide network through which he freely circulated and controlled information, his scientific ideas, and resources he had acquired.

Dr. Sandra Rebok is an internationally renowned independent scholar of anthropology and history of science and a Marie Curie Fellow of the European Commission Research Executive Agency (2016). She holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Heidelberg, Germany. Her research focuses on Alexander von Humboldt, transnational scientific collaboration in the 19th century, cultural transfers and intellectual networks, and the exploration of the American West. She is the author of numerous publications, including eight monographs. Her latest book, Humboldt’s Empire of Knowledge: From the Royal Spanish Court.



November 19, 2020
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
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