28th-29th April; Chemical Heritage Foundation, Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA, USA
In early modern times historians used to say that the practice of their art had two eyes, chronology and geography. Together these envisioned the temporal and spatial extensions of the ordered sequences of actions which come to form the record of human history. Even in such basic terms, we nonetheless lack anything approaching coherent narratives of the chemical arts and sciences as practiced on the pre-modern American continent. This circumstance differentiates American historiographies from those of European, Arabic and some eastern Asian cultures, and thus provides a fundamental motivation for the topic of the Cain Conference 2017. Whilst one conference cannot hope to supply such whole and coherent narratives, we can nonetheless take practical steps toward their provision, and so invite colleagues to submit proposals for papers.
The beginning date of 1400 is specified so as to include the possibility of papers focused on chemical practices in pre-Columbian, pre-colonial, civilizations. The flexible end-point of 1800 is chosen to include the possibility of papers on American aspects of the late eighteenth century reformulation of chemical science associated with Lavoisier, and also upon chemically-based developments in manufacturing processes at the beginnings of the modern, industrializing age. Chemistry itself is broadly defined for the purposes of the conference, to include alchemy, and also the chemical arts, all practical techniques employing qualitative transformations of matter. Colleagues may wish to consider topics in relation to the following set of subjects, but these are designed as suggestions only, and do not exclude other possible subjects.
1. The Chemical Arts, most obviously but not limited to those related to metallurgy, such as assaying, smelting and refining, and to pharmacy, such as decoction and distillation, and more generally the chemical compounding of medicines.
2. Atlantic transactions of knowledge and materials in this extensive period of exploration, mineral prospecting and colonization.
3. Interactions of indigenous and colonial knowledges, and the political and religious contexts in which they occurred.
4. Archaeological and other trace evidences of chemical sites and activities, e.g. pharmaceutical workshops, laboratories, metallurgical and other chemical processes of production.
5. Alchemical concepts, practices and behaviours in their American settings.
6. Chemical manufactures.
7. Chemical education, including apprenticeships, colleges, universities.
8. Reception, use and adaptation of European systems of chemistry in American settings.
9. Critical historiographical reflection upon narratological and interpretive frameworks relevant to the conference topic.
Colleagues wishing to submit proposals for conference papers should send the paper title plus an abstract of no more than 300 words to Carin Berkowitz (CBerkowitz@chemheritage.org) and John Christie (firstname.lastname@example.org). Closing date for submissions is 30th. October, 2016. The programme team will produce a draft conference programme, organized into appropriate panels, in January 2017.