We are now accustomed to conceive of science as an instrumental activity, producing numbers, measurements and graphs by means of sophisticated devices. This book investigates the historical process that gave rise to this instrumental culture. The contributors trace the displacement of instruments across the globe, the spread of practices or precision and the circulation and appropriation of skills and knowledge.
Through comparative and contextual approaches, the volume confronts the tension between the local and the global, examining the process of the universalization of science. Bringing together case studies ranging from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries, contributors discuss French, German and British initiatives, as well as the knowledge and techniques of travellers in countries such as India, Africa, South East Asia and the Americas.
Students and researchers interested in the history of science in both Western and non-Western cultures will find this book a valuable and thought-provoking read.

chapter 1|19 pages


ByMarie-Noëlle Bourguet, Christian Licoppe, H. Otto Sibum

chapter 2|31 pages

Golden means

Assay instruments and the geography of precision in the Guinea trade
BySimon Schaffer

chapter 3|24 pages

The project for a map of Languedoc in eighteenth-century France at the contested intersection between astronomy and geography

The problem of co-ordination between philosophers, instruments and observations as a keystone of modernity
ByChristian Licoppe

chapter 4|21 pages

The travels and trials of Mr Harrison's timekeeper

ByJim Bennett

chapter 5|30 pages

Landscape with numbers

Natural history, travel and instruments in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries
ByMarie-Noëlle Bourguet

chapter 6|30 pages

Appropriating invention

The reception of the voltaic battery in Europe
ByGiuliano Pancaldi

chapter 7|33 pages

When human travellers become instruments

The Indo-British exploration of Central Asia in the nineteenth century
ByKapil Raj

chapter 8|27 pages

The manufacture of species

Kew Gardens, the Empire, and the standardisation of taxonomic practices in late nineteenth-century botany
ByChristophe Bonneuil

chapter 9|27 pages

Exploring the margins of precision

ByH. Otto Sibum

chapter 10|30 pages

Travelling light

ByRichard Staley

chapter 11|22 pages

Travelling knowledge

Narratives, assemblage and encounters
ByDavid Turnbull