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Magallania (Punta Arenas)

versión On-line ISSN 0718-2244


GANDARA, Natalia. Mapping the southern passages: The production and circulation of hydrographic and cartographic knowledge in the late 18TH century spanish expeditions. Magallania [online]. 2020, vol.48, n.especial, pp.167-188. ISSN 0718-2244.

In the second half of the 18th century there was an increase in European naval and scientific expeditions to the Pacific Ocean in order to survey this maritime space and establish the best navigational route. As a result, the connecting passages between the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean became more relevant. In this context, remote and peripheral places such as the Magellan Strait and Cape Horn gained a new geostrategic value for the European empires. Following the “spatial turn” of the History of Science, this article explores the production and circulation of hydrographic and cartographic knowledge about the southern passages of the Magellan Strait, Cape Horn and the Western Patagonian Channels in the Spanish expeditions between 1785 and 1795. It is argued that the process of production of knowledge is a trans-imperial phenomenon which involves different actors. This perspective allows us to problematise the power relations involved in the process of social construction of knowledge, addressing the issue of how the standardization of the scientific processes impose a hierarchy in the ways of producing and transferring scientific knowledge. Furthermore, the paper argues that these expeditions must be understood as part of the global efforts of the Spanish monarchy to (re)appropriate and take control of the geography of the southern passages in a context of intense imperial competition.

Palabras clave : production of knowledge; hydrography; cartography; Patagonia.

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