UCLA PostDoc: Explorations, Encounters, and the Circulation of Knowledge

Ahmanson-Getty Postdoctoral Fellowships

This theme-based resident fellowship program, established with the support of the Ahmanson Foundation of Los Angeles and the J. Paul Getty Trust, is designed to encourage the participation of junior scholars in the Center’s yearlong core programs. The core program for the academic year 2014–2015 will be:

“Explorations, Encounters, and the Circulation of Knowledge, 1600-1830”

Directed by Adriana Craciun (UC Riverside) and Mary Terrall (UCLA).

The circulation of knowledge, objects, and people has attracted scholarly attention in recent years from a variety of disciplines.  The core program for 2014-15 will draw on several strands of this scholarship to examine how knowledge and culture were shaped by long-distance voyages and encounters in the global seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.  We are particularly interested in the possibilities of transcultural analyses that explore how knowledge and culture were transformed by the entanglements of voyagers and locals, in Europe and beyond. The program will bring together scholars of the history of science, art history, literature, anthropology, geography, maritime history, and material texts to discuss new approaches to these questions.

Session 1. Explorations and Encounters: New Directions

November 14-15, 2014

This conference considers the new directions emerging in studies of exploration and encounters from roughly 1600-1830[MT1] . Exploration history has been transformed in the last decades of the twentieth century by a welcome turn to postcolonial and feminist critiques of the grand narratives of discovery and progress that had characterized the field in the past. Increasingly in the twenty-first century, indigenous perspectives of such encounters are no longer presented as a counterhistory to that of mobile Europeans who initiated a “fatal impact” into a static, local culture. Instead, practices of indigenous people are often central to symmetrical approaches that consider ambiguities, uncertain outcomes, and contingencies in these encounters. This conference will bring together scholars conducting innovative work on how diverse voyages and voyagers, indigenous and European, mutually constituted (not without conflict) knowledge and aesthetic practices across cultural lines.

Session 2. Geographies of Inscription

Feb. 6-7, 2015

The “geography of the book” has gained prominence in recent years as the spatialized counterpart to the established field of the history of the book. This conference places inscriptions printed or handwritten on paper, bound or unbound, alongside inscriptions on skin, wood, stone, monuments, metal, instruments, structures, earth and other materials.  Collectively participants will consider how the geography of such inscriptions can contribute to current studies of 17th and 18th century empire, trade, exploration, cosmopolitan exchange, scientific collaboration, translation, and aesthetic collaboration. Through a geography of inscription we hope to illuminate new contact zones, including a transdisciplinary zone for creating innovative scholarship.  This will allow us to consider  how diverse agents, instruments, and materials of inscriptions in turn reveal new insights about writers, books, printers, publishers and their networks.  Can geographies of inscription help in the larger efforts to work outside the paradigms of empire and colonization, center/periphery, and national print culture, which do not always serve 17th and 18th century studies well? Do they suggest alternative networks for the circulations of goods, books, people, and objects in the 17th and 18th centuries?

Session 3. Commerce, Culture, and Natural Knowledge

May 15-16, 2015

Recent work on global trade  in the early modern world has examined the impact of commercial networks and the objects they exchanged on European knowledge of nature.  Commercial concerns shaped the collection and trade in artificial and natural curiosities (in the metropolis and in the field), the enslavement and transportation of people, as well as the transplantation of natural resources for exploitation in imperial sites. This conference will gather scholars working on commerce, science and material culture in the early modern world, with the specific goal of addressing issues raised by the circumstances of encounter and exchange, aiming to complicate this picture by developing some of the symmetries outlined above.

Full details and application information available on the Postdoc Fellowship pages of UCLA’s Center for 17th and 18th Century Studies:




 [MT1]Moved this into intro paragraph

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