Trading Objecthood: Global Business and the Language of Natural History in the Long Nineteenth Century

Trading Objecthood Annual HOS Workshop poster
Event date: 
February 8, 2019 (All day) to February 9, 2019 (All day)
Federico Marcon
He Bian
Seminar Series: 
History of Science Workshops
Co-Sponsored by: 
The Program in History of Science, the Department of History, the Program in East Asian Studies, and the Humanities Council

History of Science Annual Workshop

The nineteenth century saw earlier regimes of monopoly and prestige giving way to open-ended competition over natural resources that were increasingly funneled into industrial production and mass consumption. As a result, the learned inquiry in natural history also became deeply entwined with new institutions (tariff, currency exchange, branding / patent, extraterritoriality…) that sprang in the age of global business. Epitomizing this period of intense change in the relationship between business and scientific communities is the issue of language: the naming and classification of flora, fauna and mineral matter began to incorporate more previously undocumented languages such as regional dialects, pidgin and creole, and the issue of translation and systematic nomenclature assumed new practical urgency in the geopolitical administration of trade. In this workshop, we bring together expertise in different regions to highlight a common theme in the history of science: namely, how the orderly construct of nomenclature and classification in early modern cultures accommodated, and even fostered, the exploitative and expansive ethics of industrial capitalism.


Nandini Bhattacharya, University of Dundee
He Bian, Princeton University
Janet Browne, Harvard University
D. Graham Burnett, Princeton University
Harold Cook, Brown University
Claire Cooper, Princeton University
James Delbourgo, Rutgers University
Michael Gordin, Princeton University
Kuang-Chi Hung, National Taiwan University
Stacie Kent, Boston College
Rachel Koroloff, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Federico Marcon, Princeton University
Bernadette Pérez, Princeton University
Ruth Rogaski, Vanderbilt University
Winnie Wong, UC Berkeley
Rebecca Woods, University of Toronto


He Bian, Princeton University
Federico Marcon, Princeton University
Please visit the workshop website for more information and to register. Registration is required.
Trading Objecthood Workshop Poster