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

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - HISPANEMA (Hidden Spaces of American Natural History in Early Modern Central Europe: Reconstruction of Memory and Experience Narrated by Things)

Reporting period: 2019-09-01 to 2020-08-31

The objective of the HISPANEMA project is twofold. First, to carry out a reconstruction and visualisation of once lost and so far still hidden part of European scientific heritage - by investigating the narratives of things, i.e. by investigating their epistemic, cultural, and social lives, by reconstructing their ‘previous lives’ and afterlives.

In doing so, secondly,the projecl reveal new material and cultural links between two distant enviroments, imparting alternative narratives of the cultural history of knowledge and science.

The investigation focuses on American naturalia, i.e. ‘natural things’, kept in yet unexplored centroeuropean collections and museums (for example, in the collection of noble family of Rosenberg and in the Jesuit museum in the Clementinum). 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.

One of the aims of the HISPANEMA project is to promote interest in the history of science already among elementary school students to encourage children’s interest in research careers, to show the interdisciplinary character of history of science, highlight its close links with culture and society, and to develop in the general public a more critical approach to selected historical and sociocultural issues.
"Since 1 September 2019, the following activities were implemented:

Congresses, symposia, lectures:

Intercambiar y traducir: materia medica novohispana y los jesuitas centroeuropeos entre dos orillas (workshop CEIICH, UNAM, September 13, 2019)

Materia medica novohispana y los jesuitas centroeuropeos entre dos orillas (Simposio Internacional Centro y periferia del conocimiento en el contexto de la globalización de la ciencia jesuita, siglos XVI–XVIII, CEIICH, UNAM, September 17, 2019)

Naturaleza desnuda. Imágenes de flora y fauna americanas en Europa Central, 10° CONGRESO NACIONAL DE INVESTIGACIÓN, Puebla, September 27, 2019

Espacios secretos de la naturaleza americana en Europa Central, siglos XVI–XVII (COLMEX-UNAM, February 18, 2020), inaugural conference of series Historia e Historiografía de las Ciencias a y la Tecnología

No solo armadillos. Fauna novohispana en Europa Central, siglos XVI-XVIII, March 8, 2020, Congreso de Historiadores de las ciencias y las humanidades, UAM CDMX

Invitation to teach doctoral students of the UNAM (cultural history of science) in April 2020 could not be acted upon due to coronavirus pandemic.

International congress La memoria de los sentidos. Historias generales y particulares de la naturaleza novohispana, ss. XVI-XVIII planned for June 4–5, 2020, with participation of leading interdisciplinary experts had to be cancelled although calls for papers had been sent and program finalized. The congress was postponed until October 2020 and moved to virtual space.

Research activities: Realization of research in the Archivo General de la Nación (AGN) could not be implemented to the extent planned due to the pandemic. Research stay in the Biblioteca Palafoxiana, Puebla, also had to be cancelled: it was originally planned for October 2019, then moved to March 2020 because financial resources arrived to the UNAM in November. The same applies to a research stay at the John Carter Brown Library, originally planned for July 2020.

Publication activities:

Academic output:
work on article “American Marvels of the Jesuit Museum in the Clementinum and European Scientific Networks”and monograph Hidden Spaces of American Natural History in Early Modern Central Europe.

Finalization of chapter for the collective volume about the Jesuit science: Curar, gozar, experimentar: materia medica novohispana y los jesuitas centroeuropeos.

Promotion of science:
Realization of three screenplays for documents on American naturalia and their reception in (Central) Europe
The first document, Las vidas múltiples de la flor de veinte pétalos (16 minutes) has been published and in just the first week had over 4,000 viewings, thus becoming the most frequently viewed document of the center in recent time.

Interviews for television and radio, presentation of the project on social media sites of educational institutions and embassies.

Creation of a didactic material for children about the cultural history of Mexican fauna Rabbit in the Moon (in Spanish, English, and Czech).

Training activities - participation in workshops and lectures of the CEIICH (Gender problematics), training for Digital Humanities (online training moduls by PARTHENOS), participation in various congresses, workshops en webinars (for example, the webinar ""How to write an ERC proposal"" by CSIC).

Transfer of knowledge between the researcher and the host institution (Training-through-research; Development of scientific skills- acquisition ofinnovative methodological approaches during seminars and conferences; Grant
negotiation skills - preparation of funding request proposals (beginning the preparation of the ERC proposal MISSIBERA); Learning new techniques of dissemination and communication of research results especially from
the main supervisor, the Audiovisual and Multimedia Production Centre at the CEIICH and the Unit of Information and Communication Technologies at the CCHS; Networking (new international collaboration, symposium organization, invitation to form a part of ""AcademiaNet"" - ""a database of profiles of excellent female researchers from all disciplines"", nominated by CSIC, intensifying the cooperation between CSIC and UNAM)"
By investigating the narratives of things, i.e. by investigatingtheir epistemic, cultural, and social lives, by reconstructing their ‘previous lives’ and afterlives, the HISPANEMA project 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.

Expected results until the end of the projects are primarily:

- a HISPANEMA website (with new videos and interactive science map)
- a monograph Hidden Spaces of American Natural History in the Early Modern Central Europe
- participation in popularisation activities of the IH-CCHS (including European Researchers’ Night and the Science Week organised by Madrid’s regional government)
- symposium organization

Potential impact of the actions: New international collaboration (networking), sharing of specific
knowledge (original research results), sharing of sources, promote interest in the history of science among students and general public