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Alexander von Humboldt and the Globalization of Science: Networks of Knowledge between Germany and the United States in the 19th Century

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Alexander von Humboldt's work in science

An EU team studied the work of Alexander von Humboldt. The work reconstructed Humboldt's correspondence and international network building, his various American interests and the political historical context.

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Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) was a Prussian explorer. Like many explorers of his time, Humboldt was also a scientist and proponent of Romantic philosophy. The EU-funded AHUMSCIENCENET (Alexander von Humboldt and the globalization of science: Networks of knowledge between Germany and the United States in the 19th century) project re-evaluated Humboldt’s life from the point of view of science networking. Humboldt is believed to have been an early example of productive international communication. Researchers examined Humboldt’s role in the globalisation of science, the creation of intra-European and European-American networks, and his representations of various forms of knowledge. They also considered Humboldt’s contribution to the launching of modern American science. The consortium considered the issues from within four sub-projects. Researchers examined Humboldt’s American correspondence, reconstructing his networks, and the ways he promoted Prussian-American collaboration. The team investigated Humboldt’s interest in United States western expansion, based on his study of Spanish colonial archives in Mexico. Finally, the group also examined the political backdrop to Humboldt’s collaborative work. Research publications include five book chapters, four articles, two monographs in preparation and seven conference papers. Presentations included seven invited lectures, one radio interview and a personal website. Researchers also gained new research skills through the project’s training programme. The project yielded a deeper understanding of the life and times of Alexander von Humboldt, which also benefits the study of research collaboration and networking.


Alexander von Humboldt, AHUMSCIENCENET, science networking, research collaboration

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