Sumatran Rice and 'Miracle' Herbs: Local and International Natural Knowledge in Late-Colonial Guatemala
This paper concerns the local and global knowledge networks in which residents of colonial Central America participated. In the last few decades of Spanish rule (c. 1796–1821), members of the Sociedad Económica de Amigos del País dedicated themselves to bringing ‘Enlightenment’ and ‘improvement’ to the region through natural history and other ‘useful arts’. Articles published in the Economic Society’s newspaper, the Gazeta de Guatemala, show that a socially and geographically wider network of people than might be expected, and a more varied range of sources, were used to obtain scientific knowledge considered useful to the colony. The Economic Society supported the circulation of natural-historical writings within Central America, but also tapped into surprisingly international networks. The transmission and evaluation of information from these different sources reveal a sometimes uneasy coexistence of local, regional and international knowledge networks within the pursuit of ‘enlightened’ scholarship and reform.
Open Access Publication
Citation : Brockmann, S. (2015) Sumatran Rice and ‘Miracle’ Herbs: Local and International Natural Knowledge in Late-Colonial Guatemala. Colonial Latin American Review, 24 (1), pp. 84-106
Research Institute : Institute of History
Peer Reviewed : Yes
- School of Humanities 
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