At what point does the world end? More importantly, how did this idea of a whole, unified world emerge to begin with? In Worldmakers:...

At what point does the world end? More importantly, how did this idea of a whole, unified world emerge to begin with? In Worldmakers: Global Imagining in Early Modern Europe (University of Chicago Press, 2015) Ayesha Ramachandran illustrates the anticipated enormity and surprising subtlety of these questions. Prose, vivid imagery and poetry form the text’s arc as Ramachandran distills an interdisciplinary evolution of Eurocentric debates about the relationship between self and god, self and nation, world and empire, and world and universe.

Worldmakers combines a set of “founding” works, from maps to medical literature, to portray a period where allegory, the Cosmos, and classical myth interacted directly with physics and biology. Dr. Ramachandran creatively captures “two modes of world-making: imperial and cosmic” through the constructed notion of the “Other”, which frames not only the logic of imperial conquest, but earlier attempts to separate and organize the sciences. Rather than seeking to narrate a coherent whole, as is the goal of many of the book’s main characters, Ramachandran highlights the disparate trajectory of these ideas in mythical, then imperial and national, and finally scientific imagination.


Anna Levy is an independent researcher and policy analyst with interests in critical political economy, historical memory, histories and philosophies of normalization, accountability politics, science & technology, and structural inequality. She is based in Brooklyn, NY and Amman, Jordan.

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