Annals of Science 79 (1):40-59 (2022)

Abstract
ABSTRACT This study focuses on the notions of ‘ruins’, ‘savage knowledge’, and ‘American race’ in the works of the German naturalist Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius. A somewhat neglected figure in the history of anthropology and of natural history, Martius was regarded by scholars from Europe and the Americas as a leading figure in botany and ethnology in the nineteenth century. In this article, I discuss how Martius articulated: the notion of American race, that is, a broad characterization of the native peoples of the Americas rooted in a complex natural history which brought together seemingly disparate fields of knowledge, such as medicine, botany, theology, philology, and mythology; having ruins as a guiding concept, which helped him to make sense of American natives; and savage knowledge – a concept semantically aligned to that of ruins, and among whose principal modes of expression was shamanic practice.
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DOI 10.1080/00033790.2021.1990999
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