The creole conundrum
in Conquering nature in Spain and its empire, 1750–1850
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This chapter considers what differentiated colonial/peripheral from imperial/metropolitan science in the eighteenth-century Hispanic World. It combines Livingstone's approach to the history of science with the growing historiography on creole patriotism, which posits the gradual emergence of a distinctive creole identity in Spanish America. The study of nature to some extent fortified creole patriotism. It convinced Americans of the economic and scientific potential of their native regions and inspired creole naturalists to undertake research that would honour and glorify their native lands. The chapter suggests that natural history was one of the fields in which this genuine transmutation occurred. It explores how European misconceptions about American nature galvanised savants on the imperial periphery to dispel errors about their homelands, and how their research in turn fortified their patriotic sentiments.


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