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Isis. 2013 Dec;104(4):788-97.

Islands of knowledge: science and agriculture in the history of Latin America and the Caribbean.


This essay explores the participation of Latin America and the Caribbean in the construction and circulation of tropical agricultural science during the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century. It uses the term "islands of knowledge" to underscore the idea that each producing region across the global tropics, including Latin America and the Caribbean, was instrumental in the creation, adoption, and application of scientific procedures. At the same time, it emphasizes the value of interchange and interconnection between these regions, as well as the many and heterogeneous local areas, for analyzing what it calls "global archipelago agricultural scientific knowledge." This focus challenges the traditional center/periphery hierarchy and opens it to a wider vision of science and practice in agriculture. This essay shows how writing in related areas of research--specifically, commodity histories, biological exchange studies, and knowledge exchange studies--introduces approaches and case studies that are useful for the history of tropical agricultural science. In particular, this work provides analytical frameworks for developing studies of exchanges across the Global South.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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