By Peter Burke
Peter Burke follows up his magisterial Social heritage of information, identifying up the place the 1st quantity left off round 1750 on the ebook of the French Encyclopédie and following the tale via to Wikipedia. just like the earlier quantity, it bargains a social historical past (or a retrospective sociology of data) within the experience that it focuses now not on participants yet on teams, associations, collective practices and basic trends.
The e-book is split into three elements. the 1st argues that actions which seem to be undying - collecting wisdom, analysing, disseminating and making use of it - are actually time-bound and take diverse varieties in several classes and areas. the second one half attempts to counter the tendency to write down a triumphalist historical past of the 'growth' of information by means of discussing losses of information and the cost of specialization. The 3rd half bargains geographical, sociological and chronological overviews, contrasting the adventure of centres and peripheries and arguing that every of the most traits of the interval - professionalization, secularization, nationalization, democratization, and so forth, coexisted and interacted with its opposite.
As ever, Peter Burke provides a breath-taking variety of scholarship in prose of exemplary readability and accessibility. This hugely expected moment quantity can be crucial examining around the humanities and social sciences.
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Extra info for A Social History of Knowledge, Volume 2: From the Encyclopaedia to Wikipedia
In fact, Middendorff did much more than this, leading what has been called ‘the most outstanding Russian scientific expedition of the nineteenth century’, and throwing his net as widely as Lewis and Clark had done in the American West. 15 Central Asia was finally mapped by the Swedish geographer Sven Hedin following a series of expeditions between 1894 and 1908. Scientific Expeditions On land and at sea, major contributions to knowledge, especially the knowledge of geography, were made by individuals with no claim to be scholars, the explorers themselves, with the aid – often unacknowledged – of some of the indigenous inhabitants of the region they were exploring.
Russian and North American explorations of the interior of these vast countries ran in parallel, with the Russians moving eastwards and the Americans westwards. Between 1803 and 1806, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, chosen by President Jefferson to lead the ‘Corps of Discovery’, travelled from Pittsburgh to the Pacific Coast and back, exploring two-thirds of North America. Lewis described the planned expedition as ‘about to penetrate a country at least two thousand miles in width, on which the foot of civilized man had never trodden’.
53 In 1907, the archaeologist Aurel Stein discovered and carried off some 40,000 scrolls, including the famous Diamond Sutra, from the Dunhuang Caves, a complex of Buddhist temples on the western frontier of China. Stein paid only £220 for the scrolls, which went, once again, to the British Museum. In the growing domain of ‘knowledge management’ the metaphor of ‘capturing’ knowledge is sometimes employed. Occasionally, however, the term needs to be used in a literal sense. After Warsaw was invaded by Russian troops in 1794, around 400,000 volumes were taken to the newly founded Imperial Library in St Petersburg.
A Social History of Knowledge, Volume 2: From the Encyclopaedia to Wikipedia by Peter Burke