The Science of Spices: Empiricism and Economic Botany in the Early Spanish Empire

The Science of Spices: Empiricism and Economic Botany in the Early Spanish Empire This article explores the Spanish crown's efforts to study, cultivate, and transplant spices from the East Indies to the West Indies and then to Spain in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Beginning with Christopher Columbus's first observations of New World flora, the Spanish crown sought out spices to cultivate for economic gain. Although they were ultimately unsuccessful in efforts to generate a large-scale spice trade, colonial officials and local entrepreneurs participated in a coordinated program of empirical information gathering and botanical experimentation that is itself of historical significance. For the empirical and experimental—"scientific"—methods they represented serve to challenge and enhance current understanding of several historiographical themes: the origins of economic botany and the Scientific Revolution more generally, the role of human agency in the Columbian exchange, and the dissemination of knowledge from imperial centers to colonial peripheries. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of World History University of Hawai'I Press

The Science of Spices: Empiricism and Economic Botany in the Early Spanish Empire

Journal of World History, Volume 17 (4) – Oct 30, 2006

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Publisher
University of Hawai'I Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2006 by University of Hawai'i Press.
ISSN
1527-8050
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This article explores the Spanish crown's efforts to study, cultivate, and transplant spices from the East Indies to the West Indies and then to Spain in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Beginning with Christopher Columbus's first observations of New World flora, the Spanish crown sought out spices to cultivate for economic gain. Although they were ultimately unsuccessful in efforts to generate a large-scale spice trade, colonial officials and local entrepreneurs participated in a coordinated program of empirical information gathering and botanical experimentation that is itself of historical significance. For the empirical and experimental—"scientific"—methods they represented serve to challenge and enhance current understanding of several historiographical themes: the origins of economic botany and the Scientific Revolution more generally, the role of human agency in the Columbian exchange, and the dissemination of knowledge from imperial centers to colonial peripheries.

Journal

Journal of World HistoryUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Oct 30, 2006

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