CORDIS - EU research results

Hidden Spaces of American Natural History in Early Modern Central Europe: Reconstruction of Memory and Experience Narrated by Things

Project description

Reconstructing an era through its collections

American naturalia, or samples of nature from the Western continent, have made their way into collections of Central Europe like the Jesuit museum in the Clementinum in Prague. Taken out of their original context and left unexamined in collections, several of these objects lend themselves to a multi-disciplined modern examination of Central Europe during a time of great cultural exchanges. The HISPANEMA project collaborates with Mexican, Spanish and US scientists to collect as much information about an object and its history as possible, supplemented by current scientific methods. The reconstruction of an object’s history and the recreation of the era it was collected in will be interactively presented to the public.


As Giorgio Riello claims and Paula Findlen stresses, by ‘connecting objects and narratives, it is possible to write a new history of the early modern’. This project shares the same goal: by investigating the narratives of things, i.e. by investigating their epistemic, cultural, and social lives, by reconstructing their ‘previous lives’ and afterlives, it intends to write a new chapter in the cultural history of science, carry out a reconstruction and visualisation of once lost and so far still unknown part of European scientific heritage.

The investigation will focus on American naturalia, i.e. ‘natural things’, kept in yet unexplored collections of a prominent noble family of Rosenberg and in the Jesuit museum in the Clementinum (Musaeum Mathematicum Collegii Clementini). The reconstruction of the memory and experience of these things will be achieved by linking the study of inventories, artefacts, or partial references to items included in those collections with diverse texts and images of institutional and personal character, which bring these things to life from various perspectives and reveal their geographic instability, slipperiness, cultural and gender hybridity, multivalence, and categorical fluidity, especially – but not exclusively – in relation to the specific conditions of Central Europe in the era of first globalisation. The research will be carried out in intensive collaboration with excellent scientists (Spain, Mexico, USA). The main investigation outcome will be 1) a monograph Hidden Spaces of American Natural History in the Early Modern Central Europe presenting the original, hitherto unexplored topics, and 2) a HISPANEMA website that will contain visual reconstructions of the above mentioned collections as well as various other materials thanks to which the ‘Central European americana’ will again come to live in interaction with an audience.


Net EU contribution
€ 144 360,00
28006 Madrid

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Comunidad de Madrid Comunidad de Madrid Madrid
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 144 360,00

Partners (1)