The Invention of Humboldt is a game-changing volume of essays by leading scholars of the Hispanic world that explodes many myths about Alexander von Humboldt and his world.

Rather than ‘follow in Humboldt’s footsteps’ this book outlines the new critical horizon of ‘post-Humboldtian’ Humboldt Studies: the archaeology of all that lies buried under the Baron’s epistemological footprint. Contrary to the popular image of Humboldt as a solitary ‘adventurer’ and ‘hero of science’ surrounded by New World nature, The Invention of Humboldt demonstrates that the Baron’s opus and practice was largely derivative of the knowledge communities and archives of the Hispanic world. Although Humboldtian writing has invented a powerful hero cult that has served to erase the sources of his knowledge and practice, Humboldt did not ‘invent nature’ nor did he pioneer global science: he was the beneficiary of Iberian natural science and globalization. Nor was Humboldt a pioneering, ‘postcolonial’ cultural relativist. Instead, his anthropological views of the Americas were Orientalist and historicist, and in most ways were less enlightened than those of his Creole contemporaries. This book will reshape the landscape of Humboldt scholarship. It is essential reading for all those interested in Alexander von Humboldt, the Hispanic American enlightenment, and the global history of science and knowledge.

New World Objects of Knowledge

Edited by Mark Thurner and Juan Pimentel
30 April 2021
273 × 210 mm
300 pp

From the late fifteenth century to the present day, countless explorers, conquerors, and other agents of empire have laid siege to the New World, plundering and pilfering its most precious artefacts and treasures. Today, these natural and cultural products—which are key to conceptualizing a history of Latin America—are scattered in museums around the world.

With contributions from a renowned set of scholars, New World Objects of Knowledge delves into the hidden histories of forty of the New World’s most iconic artifacts, from the Inca mummy to Darwin’s hummingbirds. This volume is richly illustrated with photos and sketches from the archives and museums hosting these objects. Each artifact is accompanied by a comprehensive essay covering its dynamic, often global, history and itinerary. This volume will be an indispensable catalog of New World objects and how they have helped shape our modern world.


‘Routledge Studies in Global Latin America’