Bitter fruits of accumulation: The case of Caspar Georg Carl Reinwardt (1773–1854)

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This essay analyses the career of the German chemist and government functionary Caspar Georg Carl Reinwardt (1773–1854) through the layered lens of governance and management. By conceptualizing governance as the historical result of the interaction between locally situated accumulation and management projects and the ‘metropolitan’ assessment of their value, it uses Reinwardt’s experiences to shed fresh light on the idiosyncrasies through which Europe and Southeast Asia were linked in the early nineteenth century. The discussion of three closely related episodes (the management of the botanical garden at Buitenzorg, the complexity of inquiries in the field and the failure of Reinwardt’s publication projects) exemplifies this point. Taken together, the essay problematizes simple center-periphery relationships by demonstrating that such global connections be understood through a comparison between ‘metropolitan’ and ‘colonial’ science. Rather it demonstrates the insights drawn from employing a framework that unites narratives of ‘imperial’ and ‘metropolitan’ histories of accumulation, and brings them under one analytical umbrella
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-318
JournalHistory of science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • METIS-306163
  • IR-92354


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