Writing the history of knowledge in Brazil

October 2018

The latest issue of HCSM (vol.25 no.3, July/Sept. 2018) features a “Research Note” by Peter Burke, one of the greatest historians of our time.

This paper develops themes presented by Burke at the conference “Sites of Invention: Latin America and the Global History of Historical and Anthropological Knowledge,” organized by the Institute of Latin American Studies (University of London), in June 2016.

Peter Burke is a British historian and professor. He joined the University of Cambridge in 1979, where he holds the title of Professor Emeritus of Cultural History and Fellow of Emmanuel College. Burke is celebrated as a historian not only of the early modern era, but one who emphasizes the relevance of social and cultural history to modern issues. He is the author of more than 20 books. Source and photo: Emmanuel College website.

Burke surveys recent contributions to the history of knowledge in Brazil, mainly concerned with the history of the sciences, and makes some suggestions about the future of this field.

According to Burke, a good deal of publications related to the history of knowledge in Brazil  concentrate on the history of medicine and relatively little has been published on the history of science in the colonial period.

Burke also said that the history of the social sciences in Brazil lags behind the history of the natural sciences, with few publications concerned with the history of sociology, political science, anthropology, geography and of history itself.

The historian believes that two major lacunae require a mention: studies of indigenous knowledge and, to a lesser extent, studies of universities.

“Indigenous knowledges have been attracting increasing attention from anthropologists, together with some geographers and economists, but not from historians,” wrote Burke.

See the full research note by Peter Burke: Writing the history of knowledge in BrazilHist. cienc. saude-Manguinhos, Sept 2018, vol.25, no.3.

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