A corpus of recent studies of early-modern science documents the connection between
burgeoning knowledge production and the expansion of overseas empires. This work follows
imperial geographies, exploring the circulation of practitioners, specimens, and ideas
within French, Dutch, Spanish, or British imperial circuits. Mitchell looks both within
and across the confines of empire to examine how scientific communication managed
to thrive, in spite of anti-colonial resistance, imperial rivalries, and uncertain
maritime traffic in the eighteenth century.
This talk explains unpublished correspondence of Col. Robert Jacob Gordon, the last Dutch East India Company military commander at the Cape of Good Hope, to evaluate the content and chart the geographic extent of his scientific communication. Gordon was an avid naturalist who used his post as a launching pad for several significant expeditions in southern Africa. Mitchell seeks not to re-evaluate Gordon’s scientific contributions, which are well documented, but rather to reconstruct his network of correspondents in the Netherlands, England, Scotland, France, and the Austro-Hungarian empire. She will use Gordon’s wide-ranging interests to ask whether an “Empire of Letters” actively sought to claim new ground and establish clear lines of authority, intentionally seeking to traverse political allegiances or subvert political sovereignty.
People in SocSci
Faculty & Lecturers
- Outreach & Diversity
- Global Connect
- Ambassador's Council
- Diversity, Inclusion & Racial Healing High School Ambassador Program
- Deconstructing Diversity Initiative
- Olive Tree Initiative
Alumni & Community Organizations
Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Resources
- Join us!
We’re seeking your support as we push the limits in neuroscience, population science and emerging conflict research, because solutions to some of society’s greatest challenges lie in our ability to break the mold, to be boundaryless. Learn how you can support and join us in our pursuit.
- Join us!
- News & Events
Be in the know