The Andean Wonder Drug: Cinchona Bark and Imperial Science in the Spanish Atlantic, 1630-1800

The Andean Wonder Drug: Cinchona Bark and Imperial Science in the Spanish Atlantic, 1630-1800

by Matthew James Crawford

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In the eighteenth century, malaria was a prevalent and deadly disease, and the only effective treatment was found in the Andean forests of Spanish America: a medicinal bark harvested from cinchona trees that would later give rise to the antimalarial drug quinine. In 1751, the Spanish Crown asserted control over the production and distribution of this medicament by establishing a royal reserve of “fever trees” in Quito. Through this pilot project, the Crown pursued a new vision of imperialism informed by science and invigorated through commerce. But ultimately this project failed, much like the broader imperial reforms that it represented. Drawing on extensive archival research, Matthew Crawford explains why, showing how indigenous healers, laborers, merchants, colonial officials, and creole elites contested European science and thwarted imperial reform by asserting their authority to speak for the natural world. The Andean Wonder Drug uses the story of cinchona bark to demonstrate how the imperial politics of knowledge in the Spanish Atlantic ultimately undermined efforts to transform European science into a tool of empire.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780822981398
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Publication date: 07/15/2016
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
File size: 7 MB

About the Author

Matthew James Crawford is assistant professor of history at Kent State University.

Table of Contents

Contents Acknowledgements Introduction: The Power and Fragility of European Science in the Spanish Atlantic World Part I. Andean, Atlantic, and Imperial Networks of Knowledge 1. Quina as a Medicament from the Andean World 2. Quina as a Product of the Atlantic World 3. Quina as a Natural Resource for the Spanish Empire Part II. The Rule of the Local and the Rise of the Botanists 4. Loja’s Bark Collectors, the King’s Pharmacists, and the Search for the Best Bark 5. Botanists as the Empire’s New Experts in Madrid 6. Imperial Reform, Local Knowledge, and the Limits of Botany in the Andean World 7. Regalist and Mercantilist Visions of Empire in the “War of the Quinas” Conclusion: The Natures of Empire before the “Drapery” of Modern Science Notes Bibliography Index

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