By James E. McClellan III
How was once the nature of technology formed by way of the colonial adventure? In flip, how may perhaps we make feel of ways technological know-how contributed to colonialism? Saint Domingue (now Haiti) used to be the world’s richest colony within the eighteenth century and residential to an lively society of science—one of simply 3 on the planet, at the moment. during this deeply researched and pathbreaking learn of the colony, James E. McClellan III first raised his incisive questions about the connection among technology and society that historians of the colonial event are nonetheless grappling with this present day. lengthy thought of infrequent, the e-book is now again in print in an English-language variation, observed through a brand new foreword via Vertus Saint-Louis, a local of Haiti and a widely-acknowledged professional on colonialism. usually brought up because the an important start line in realizing the Haitian revolution, Colonialism and technology can be welcomed by means of scholars and students alike. “By deftly weaving jointly imperialism and technology within the tale of French colonialism, [McClellan] . . . brings to mild the background of a nearly forgotten colony.”—Journal of recent historical past “McClellan has produced a powerful case learn delivering very good surveys of Saint Domingue’s colonial background and its heritage of science.”—Isis
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Extra info for Colonialism and Science: Saint Domingue and the Old Regime
Two points of usage and definition need to be clarified at the outset. First, for our purposes "science" in the eighteenth century should not be considered a monolithic intellectual or social entity. It needs to be thought of functionally, as a dynamic complex of ideas, institutions, individuals, and social groups embodying and operationally defining natural knowledge across a range of social levels and in extended social connections. Such a broad definition encompasses, for example, Euler's empyrean work on the three-body problem and voodoo mesmerism among slaves as elements of one grand cultural constellation that defined eighteenth-century science.
The importance to Saint Domingue of trade and merchant capital should already be clear. By the same token, the mercantilist economic policies INTRODUCTION pursued by the French crown proved profitable for the state but were not in the interests of traders and colonists, for whom free trade was the desideratum. " 35) A fundamental conflict thus emerged between the longer-term capitalist interests of merchants, planters, and colonists in general and the strictly mercantilist policies of royal government.
Not surprisingly, physicians, medical institutions, and the scientific study of tropical diseases became deeply ingrained in the structure and functioning of colonial Saint Domingue, as a later chapter will show. Understanding the role of the material world in the development of Saint Domingue requires recognizing that the colony was established on a frontier, an inhospitable frontier with nature. The Spanish exterminated the aboriginal Arawak Indians soon after arriving in I492. The Spanish then withdrew from the northern and western portions of Hispaniola, and the land reverted to wilderness.