Patrick Anthony is a PhD candidate at Vanderbilt University, who received his M.A. from Vanderbilt (2017) and B.A. from Montana State University (2015). Patrick is the author of “Race and Republicanism in Philadelphia’s Aurora,” published in The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (January 2017), and “Mining as the Working World of Alexander von Humboldt’s Plant Geography and Vertical Cartography,” published in the journal Isis (March 2018). In 2017, he received the Nathan Reingold Prize for the best graduate student paper from the History of Science Society.
In 2015, Patrick’s research was supported by a three-month research grant from the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz, in collaboration with the project “Alexander von Humboldts Reisetagebücher.” Having been awarded research grants from the Fulbright Program and the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), he will spend 2018-2019 in Europe, carrying out his dissertation research in archives in Germany and Poland.
Patrick’s dissertation—“Nature’s Working World: Mining, Travel, and Environment in the Time of Humboldt”—studies the relationship between science, industry, and nature-aesthetics in German-speaking Europe ca. 1770 – ca. 1850. This study takes a fresh perspective on Georg Forster (1754-1794) and Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), two figures celebrated for their global travels and holistic (if not “ecological”) conceptions of nature, by viewing them on (and under) the ground as they traveled through and worked in Germany’s mining industry. Resituating these cosmopolitan travelers in local, industrial settings shows how views of nature at the turn of the nineteenth century cannot be fully understood within the traditional dichotomy between Enlightened utilitarians and Romantic ecologists. Rather, this project draws out their era’s romanticization of resource extraction, suggesting that many, like Forster and Humboldt, learned to practice their reverence for nature through the use and exploitation of nature. Moreover, this project also demonstrates how industrial contexts, in turn, shaped knowledge about nature, particularly Humboldt’s cartography and plant geography.