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The Scientific Revolution as Global History, 1200–1800

Principal Investigator: Dr James Poskett, University of Warwick, UK

Project Mentor: Professor Sujit Sivasundaram, University of Cambridge, UK

Jantar Mantar, Varanasi

Figure 1: The Jantar Mantar astronomical observatory, built in 1737 in Varanasi, India.

This project will provide a major reassessment of the concept of the “scientific revolution”. The scientific revolution was not a period of radical unidirectional change, nor was it unique to Europe. Rather, early modern science was made through a process of creative re-engagement with the global past. In this project, I examine the connection between old and new knowledge in five early modern empires: the Ming, the Mughals, the Ottomans, the Mexica, and the Holy Roman Empire. Drawing on recent work in the anthropology of history and global historiography, I show how a remarkably similar process shaped the development of science in each society. Knowledge drawn from other cultures and languages, ranging from Persian to Sanskrit, was understood as a way to integrate old traditions with new experiences. More broadly, this project will provide a new basis for presenting science and its global past to public audiences around the world.

Advisory Board

Professor Rebecca Earle, University of Warwick, UK

Professor Anne Gerritsen, University of Warwick, UK, and Leiden University, Netherlands

Dr Darin Hayton, Haverford College, USA

Professor Dhruv Raina, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India

Dr Derya Gürses Tarbuck, Bahçeşehir University, Turkey

Professor John Tresch, Warburg Institute, UK

British Academy

Wolfson Foundation