I am a historian of science and the environment in central Europe interested in the relationship between working and knowing.
My dissertation, under the supervision of David Blackbourn, is titled “Nature’s Working Worlds: Science, Industry, and Environment in the Time of Alexander von Humboldt, ca. 1770 – ca. 1860.” My research has been published in journals such as Isis, Centaurus, the Journal of the History of Ideas, and the Historical Journal. To read more about my research, please visit: www.patrickanthonyhistory.com.
Currently I am guest editor of the Special Issue “Working at the Margins: Labor and the Politics of Participation in Natural History, 1700-1830,” forthcoming in Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte — History of Science and Humanities, in June 2021.
My dissertation project re-writes the history of Humboldt’s “global physics” as a history of the labor that sustained its system of inquiry in mines and atop mountains—the hewers, foremen, surveyors, draftsmen, guides, porters, and fellow technicians and travelers long enveloped by the sprawling category of “Humboldtian science.” Tracing the relationship between working and knowing over the course of Humboldt’s long life, it shows how the social organization of his science adapted to existing labor regimes in cameralist, colonial, and capitalist contexts. Practicing science within cultures of “useful knowledge” that spanned the Atlantic around 1800, Humboldt often emphasized his proximity to, not distance from, men of practical experience. This was an age in which territorial administration and resource use were constitutive of natural inquiry and early environmental thought. Franconian mine foremen and Creole surveyors played an especially vital role in Humboldt’s early geographic projects. Gradually, though, Humboldt’s appeals to the practical utility of his science, and the visibility of laborers within it, tended to diminish, keeping pace with the separation of workers from the means of production in the factories that sprang up around him in mid-century Berlin. Ways of working were abstracted into ways of knowing.
My dissertation research was awarded the Nathan Reingold Prize from the History of Science Society and funded by the Social Science Research Council, the German-American Fulbright Commission, and the State Library of Berlin.
Publications and Interviews
Anthony, Patrick. “Making Historicity: Paleontology and the Proximity of the Past in Germany, 1770-1820.” Journal of the History of Ideas 82, no. 2 (April 2021): 231-55.
Anthony, Patrick. “Labour, folklore, and environmental politics in German mining around 1800.” The Historical Journal (23 December 2020). First View, pp. 1-23, https://doi.org/10.1017/S0018246X20000588.
Anthony, Patrick. “Mines, mountains, and the making of a vertical consciousness in Germany ca. 1800.” Centaurus 62, no. 4 (2020): 612-30.
Anthony, Patrick. “Mining as the Working World of Alexander von Humboldt’s Plant Geography and Vertical Cartography.” Isis 109, no. 1 (2018): 28-55.
Anthony, Patrick R. “Race and Republicanism in Philadelphia’s Aurora: How Anglophobia and Anti-monarchism Shaped William Duane’s Views of Revolutions in Saint-Domingue and Latin America, 1798-1822.” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography CXLI, no. 1 (January 2017): 31-58.
Guest Contributor to the “Wissen Blog-Netzwerk für Forschung und Kultur” by the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin and Preußischer Kulturbesitz: “Vertical Thinking in the Time of Humboldt.” http://blog.sbb.berlin/vertical-thinking-in-the-time-of-humboldt/
Guest Contributor to the Blog for the Journal of the History of Ideas: “Thinking about Knowledge in Motion and Social Engagement at HSS” https://jhiblog.org/2015/12/11/thinking-about-knowledge-in-motion-and-social-engagement-at hss/
Interview by Isis on the article Anthony, Patrick. “Mining as the Working World of Alexander von Humboldt’s Plant Geography and Vertical Cartography.” Isis 109, no. 1 (2018): 28-55. https://www.facebook.com/isis.journal/posts/1604638389643166
Interview by Michael Robinson for the podcast Time to Eat the Dogs. https://timetoeatthedogs.com/2018/05/14/episode-31-rethinking-humboldt/