Entangled Itineraries—with its breadth of topics; its attention to movement, exchange, translation, adaptation; its experimental mobilization of new heuristic concepts; and its expansive perspectives—opens up new frontiers in the study of human knowledge. It promises to provoke a major and positive reassessment in the field of history of science and will excite students and faculty in a variety of fields. An ambitious, necessary, and vital collection.
Trade flowed across Eurasia, around the Indian Ocean, and over the Mediterranean for millennia, but in the early modern period, larger parts of the globe became connected through these established trade routes. Knowledge, embodied in various people, materials, texts, objects, and practices, also moved and came together along these routes in hubs of exchange where different social and cultural groups intersected and interacted.
Entangled Itineraries traces this movement of knowledge across the Eurasian continent from the early years of the Common Era to the nineteenth century, following local goods, techniques, tools, and writings as they traveled and transformed into new material and intellectual objects and ways of knowing. Focusing on nonlinear trajectories of knowledge in motion, this volume follows itineraries that weaved in and out of busy, crowded cosmopolitan cities in China; in the trade hubs of Kucha and Malacca; and in centers of Arabic scholarship, such as Reyy and Baghdad, which resonated in Bursa, Assam, and even as far as southern France. Contributors explore the many ways in which materials, practices, and knowledge systems were transformed and codified as they converged, swelled, at times disappeared, and often reemerged anew.
“Led by the insight that objects, ideas, and cultures are known through the ‘relational fields’ that they activate in migrating among places and times, this book is a sustained meditation on the versatility of matter. The authors have brought an astonishing range of knowledge and skills to bear on the unacknowledged cosmopolitan character of words, things, and values as we know them from one place or another on the Eurasian continent: really existing multiculturalism. Every chapter contains its pearl, but the sum of them is that future work on cultural exchange must begin from Entangled Itineraries.”
Pamela H. Smith is Seth Low Professor of History and founding director of the Center for Science and Society at Columbia University where she teaches history of early modern Europe and the history of science.