Crossing the Borders of Knowledge

Friday 10 June 2016

A new international research network is employing pioneering research on Latin America to ensure that our understanding and teaching of history of knowledge is truly global.

Supported by the Leverhulme Trust with a £124,000 grant, ‘Border Crossings: Latin America and the Global History of Knowledge (LAGLOBAL)’ is led by the Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS) at the School of Advanced Study, University of London.
Directed by Dr Mark Thurner, LAGLOBAL will build upon a growing body of research that has moved beyond national and/or imperial traditions and approaches to the history of science and philosophy. Its brief is to investigate the history of border-crossing ‘knowledge practices’ where Latin America has been a pioneer, and to apply this knowledge to generate a model for a border-crossing academic practice fit for the 21st century.

‘Too often, researchers at UK universities claim originality for their interdisciplinary knowledge practices, when in fact those practices have a long history elsewhere’, notes Dr Mark Thurner, professor of Latin American history at ILAS.

‘This is particularly true of Latin America, whose contributions to the history of knowledge have been largely ignored. LAGLOBAL intends to remedy the situation by forming four transatlantic working groups composed of leading scholars in the fields of Latin American studies and the history of knowledge, and drawn from seven prestigious partner institutions in Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, Spain, the UK and the US, respectively.’ 

Professor Linda Newson, director of ILAS, says: ‘The Institute of Latin American Studies is delighted to be able to lead this innovative programme of research which will enable eminent scholars from Europe and the Americas to work closely together to demonstrate Latin America’s overlooked contribution to the global development of knowledge.

Collaborating universities are the Centre of Amerindian, Latin American and Caribbean Studies(University of St Andrews), the Departamento de Historia de la Ciencia (Instituto de Historia, Madrid, the Centro de Estudios Históricos of El Colegio de México(Mexico), the Departamento de Antropología, Historia e Humanidades (Facultad Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales, Ecuador), O Programa em História das Ciências e da Saúde (Casa de Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro), the John Carter Brown Library (Brown University, Providence, US) and the Institute of Historical Research (University of Texas at Austin, US).

‘The School of Advanced Study has already pioneered some groundbreaking ‘cross-border’ research,’ says Professor Roger Kain, CBE, FBA, dean and chief executive of SAS. ‘Our challenge is to establish frameworks so that these approaches can be clearly analysed and understood and embedded in our everyday practices.’