Connecting Territories

Exploring People and Nature, 1700–1850


The book analyses from a comparative perspective the exploration of territories, the histories of their inhabitants, and local natural environments during the long eighteenth century. The eleven chapters look at European science at home and abroad as well as at global scientific practices and the involvement of a great variety of local actors in the processes of mapping and recording. Dealing with landlocked territories with no colonies (like Switzerland) and places embedded in colonial networks, the book reveals multifarious entanglements connecting these territories.

Contributors are: Sarah Baumgartner, Simona Boscani Leoni, Stefanie Gänger, Meike Knittel, Francesco Luzzini, Jon Mathieu, Barbara Orland, Irina Podgorny, Chetan Singh, and Martin Stuber.
Open Access
Download PDF

Prices from (excl. shipping):

Simona Boscani Leoni, Ph.D. (2003, EHESS Paris), is Swiss National Science Foundation-Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Bern and senior scientist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne. Most recently she edited “Unglaubliche Bergwunder”. Johann Jakob Scheuchzer und Graubünden. Ausgewählte Briefe, 1699–1707 (2019); an extended edition of this correspondence can be found online:

Sarah Baumgartner, Ph.D. (2019, University of Bern) holds an MA in History and a BSc in Geography. Her research interests include the history of scientific societies of the eighteenth century and early modern agriculture.

Meike Knittel, Ph.D. (2018, University of Bern), is a postdoctoral researcher at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin and an associated researcher at the University of Bern’s Historical Institute. Her research focuses on natural history of collections and eighteenth-century botany.
"Questa raccolta di saggi offre un ricco contributo alla storia dei processi di esplorazione e di scambio e accumulazione di conoscenze che hanno dato forma al sapere scientifico europeo in epoca moderna, con particolare riguardo alla fine del Settecento, un momento di accelerazione e infittimento di comunicazioni e spostamenti a livello globale. "

---- Giulia Iannuzzi, in: Annali Recensioni Online VI, 2023/3
Connecting territories unites ten authors in a comparative history of how people learned to survey land, its inhabitants and its products, from Spanish America to Switzerland, the Apennines to the Himalaya. […] the volume shows how local scientific practices became increasingly globally co-ordinated in the long eighteenth century.”

---- Patrick Anthony, in: Archives of Natural History, November 2022, Vol. 49, No. 2: pp. 426-27.
List of Figures and Tables
List of Contributors

1 Introduction: From Switzerland to the Indies
Simona Boscani Leoni, Sarah Baumgartner and Meike Knittel

part 1: Naturalists’ Methods

2 Between the Americas and Europe: Mapping Territories through Questionnaires, 16th–18th Centuries
Simona Boscani Leoni

3 (Re-)Shaping a Method: Field Research and Experimental Legacy in Vallisneri’s Primi Itineris Specimen (1705)
Francesco Luzzini

4 Flora Near and Far: Accumulating Knowledge on Plants in Eighteenth-Century Zurich
Meike Knittel

5 The Secrets of Indians: Native Knowers in Enlightenment Natural Histories of the Southern Americas
Stefanie Gänger

part 2: Authorities’ and Societies’ Strategies

6 Change and Continuity: The Bureaucracy of Knowledge in South America
Irina Podgorny

7 Questionnaires, Parish Registers and Prize Competitions: The Zurich Physical Society’s Sources and Methods for Surveying the Territory
Sarah Baumgartner

8 Social Anthropology avant la lettre: The Economic Enlightenment Perspective on Traditional Uses of Wetlands
Martin Stuber

part 3: Defining Territories

9 Divergent Perception: Deserts and Mountains in Transition to Modernity, seen through Alexander von Humboldt’s Views of Nature
Jon Mathieu

10 Alpine Landscapes of Health: The Swiss Whey Cure and Therapeutic Tourism between 1750 and 1870
Barbara Orland

11 Creation of “Scientific” Knowledge: The Asiatick Society and Exploration of the Himalaya, 1784–1850
Chetan Singh

Institutes, scholars, students, academic libraries interested in Early Modern and Modern History, Postcolonial Studies, Latin American Studies, European Studies, History of Science, History of Medicine; Knowledge History; Social History; Rural History; Environmental Studies.
  • Collapse
  • Expand