The Sociable Sciences: Darwin and His Contemporaries in Chile

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Before genetics and the mapping of DNA, before ecology and global warming, adventurous and foolhardy souls were compelled into the wild because of their insatiable curiosity about the natural world. The work of these naturalists was intensely sociable: they explored together, dashed off irate letters to one another, haggled over specimens, commiserated over family tragedies, and traded favors of all kinds. And no one better exemplified this spirit of sociability than the European and Chilean scientists studying Chile in the nineteenth century. This lively and engaging history begins with a familiar pairing—Charles Darwin and Captain Robert Fitz-Roy aboard the Beagle—and goes on to trace the fortunes of colorful figures such as the happy-go-lucky Prussian adventurer Bernardo Philippi, who was murdered by indigenous people in the Strait of Magellan, and Claudio Gay, an amateur French botanist who became the father of the natural sciences in Chile. These Europeans taught Chileans a new way to see their own natural environment, inspiring a new generation of scientists in Chile and forging international networks that helped to shape the modern world.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages312
ISBN (Print)9781137286055
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2013


  • History of Science
  • Chile
  • exploration
  • sociability


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