Colonialism and Science: Saint Domingue and the Old Regime

Colonialism and Science: Saint Domingue and the Old Regime

by James E. McClellan III

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How was the character of science shaped by the colonial experience? In turn, how might we make sense of how science contributed to colonialism? Saint Domingue (now Haiti) was the world’s richest colony in the eighteenth century and home to an active society of science—one of only three in the world, at that time. In this deeply researched and pathbreaking study of the colony, James E. McClellan III first raised his incisive questions about the relationship between science and society that historians of the colonial experience are still grappling with today. Long considered rare, the book is now back in print in an English-language edition, accompanied by a new foreword by Vertus Saint-Louis, a native of Haiti and a widely-acknowledged expert on colonialism. Frequently cited as the crucial starting point in understanding the Haitian revolution, Colonialism and Science will be welcomed by students and scholars alike.

“By deftly weaving together imperialism and science in the story of French colonialism, [McClellan] . . . brings to light the history of an almost forgotten colony.”—Journal of Modern History

“McClellan has produced an impressive case study offering excellent surveys of Saint Domingue’s colonial history and its history of science.”—Isis


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780226514673
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 10/30/2010
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 416
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

James E. McClellan IIIis professor of the history of science at Stevens Institute of Technology.He is the author of Science and Technology in World History, among several other books.

Table of Contents

Foreword vii

Preface and Acknowledgments xiii

Note on Weights, Measures, and Currency xix

Introduction: The Case of Saint Domingue 1

Part I Eighteenth-Century Saint Domingue: The Old Regime in the Tropics 21

1 Material Factors 23

2 Historical Development 34

3 Population and Sociology 47

4 Industry and Economy 63

5 The Urban Context 75

Part II Science in a New World Setting 109

6 Missionary Naturalists 111

7 Expeditions to Saint Domingue 117

8 Medicine and Medical Administration 128

9 Economic Botany and Animal Economy 147

10 Meteorology and Popular Science 163

Part III The Cercle Des Philadelphes (1784-1792) 181

11 Origins: Science or Freemasonry? 183

12 Milestones on the Road to Recognition 206

13 On to Letters Patent 233

14 Profile of an Institution 259

15 The Fall of the société Royale of cap François 273

Conclusions: Science and Colonial Development 289

Abbreviations 299

Notes 301

Bibliography 361

Index 383

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