Scientific Islanders: Pacific Peoples, American Scientists, and the Desire to Understand the World, 1800-1860

Roberto Jesus Diaz, University of Texas at El Paso

Abstract

Between 1800 and 1860, Pacific Islanders sought answers to questions about the mechanics and origins of the universe, just as Americans did. But the systems of thought created by Natives addressing these matters generally would not have been considered “scientific” by Americans. Pacific Islanders and Americans, nevertheless, created extensive scientific traditions to systematically perceive, understand, and explain the nature of existence. These systems were rooted in religion, social dynamics, and other cultural norms, and manifested themselves in writing, artwork, explorations, and technologies that benefited their societies. Thus, this thesis argues that the practice of scientific methods was not simply a Western phenomenon. Pacific Islanders, like Americans, sought to understand the universe by asking questions, ascribing causes to wonders, and experimenting with technologies. It further argues that the knowledge yielded by these groups circulated the globe, changing the course of scientific practices in the Pacific and America well into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Subject Area

Science history|History of Oceania|American history

Recommended Citation

Diaz, Roberto Jesus, "Scientific Islanders: Pacific Peoples, American Scientists, and the Desire to Understand the World, 1800-1860" (2019). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI13885608.
https://digitalcommons.utep.edu/dissertations/AAI13885608

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