Mauro José CaraccioliFeb 21, 2022
Writing the New World
The Politics of Natural History in the Early Spanish Empire
University of Florida Press 2021
Is natural history a genre of political thought? What do we miss about the substance of political ideas when we ignore the study of nature?
Writing the New World: The Politics of Natural History in the Early Spanish Empire (University of Florida Press, 2021) demonstrates how the natural historical writings of chroniclers, explorers, and missionaries “helped to lay out a distinct set of empirical foundations for modern political thought.” Dr. Mauro José Caraccioli connects scientific, historical, religious, and political ideals to show how Spanish natural history of the so-called “New World” was deeply political.
Political theorists focus on empire, racial hierarchy, conquest, and colonization but Caraccioli cautions not to ignore the “interplay between empire, faith, and the experiences of New World environments” that shaped Imperial Spain’s early efforts to shape culture and politics. That natural history context is essential to fully understand the context of early modern political thought. Caraccioli uses natural history texts written by early Spanish missionaries to create the “first work of political theory that accounts for New World exploration and evangelization as a dual science of domination.” The intersecting analysis of the ecological, political, religious, and historical makes this book an important one for the 21st century.
Dr. Mauro José Caraccioli is an assistant professor of political science and core faculty in the Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought (ASPECT) at Virginia Tech.
Amber Gonzalez assisted with this podcast.
Susan Liebell is Dirk Warren '50 Professor of Political Science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.