Citation

Mechanical gardeners and Scientific Sailors: Standardizing Organic Time on Land and at Sea, 1750-1830

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Abstract:

Although Europeans and Americans turned increasingly to the clock in late modernity, they continued to pay attention to the rhythms of the natural world. Moreover, during this period perceptions of nature were hardly static: new instruments, ideologies, and identities reshaped everyday engagement with the environment. Consequently some eclectic and surprising non-clock timekeeping technologies developed in creative tension with regularized clock-time and in conversation with the emerging natural sciences.
For this panel, I introduce this search for universal organic time first in the colonial context of British transatlantic agricultural improvement literature and second in the broader context of global nautical science and navigation. I begin by exploring British horticultural debates about what method of timekeeping could transcend the local yet remain anchored in empirically observable environmental phenomena. With this horticultural debate as intellectual context, I will follow American polymath Nathaniel Bowditch (1773-1838) as he developed trade routes to Manila and the South Pacific, struggled with the same questions that plagued British horticultural authors, and proposed similarly surprising timekeeping technologies to “fix” the problem of following organic time anywhere in the world.
Through this unlikely comparison of the place-based—gardening—and the highly mobile—seafaring—I show how gardeners and navigators participated in an intellectual project to make place-based timekeeping more portable and, in turn, to use organic timekeeping practices to make the natural world more legible. I show that between the calendar and the clock, and between the universal and the local, early nineteenth-century European and American sailors, gardeners, merchants, and mathematicians perceived other scales of time and developed a sense of what a universal timekeeping technology based in local conditions should look like. In practices such as log-keeping, sounding the depths, and growing vegetables out of season, we can see these authors trying to modernize and standardize organic time.
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Name: ASEH Annual Conference
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http://aseh.net


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1171049_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Wersan, Kate. "Mechanical gardeners and Scientific Sailors: Standardizing Organic Time on Land and at Sea, 1750-1830" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL, <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1171049_index.html>

APA Citation:

Wersan, K. "Mechanical gardeners and Scientific Sailors: Standardizing Organic Time on Land and at Sea, 1750-1830" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1171049_index.html

Publication Type: Panel Paper
Abstract: Although Europeans and Americans turned increasingly to the clock in late modernity, they continued to pay attention to the rhythms of the natural world. Moreover, during this period perceptions of nature were hardly static: new instruments, ideologies, and identities reshaped everyday engagement with the environment. Consequently some eclectic and surprising non-clock timekeeping technologies developed in creative tension with regularized clock-time and in conversation with the emerging natural sciences.
For this panel, I introduce this search for universal organic time first in the colonial context of British transatlantic agricultural improvement literature and second in the broader context of global nautical science and navigation. I begin by exploring British horticultural debates about what method of timekeeping could transcend the local yet remain anchored in empirically observable environmental phenomena. With this horticultural debate as intellectual context, I will follow American polymath Nathaniel Bowditch (1773-1838) as he developed trade routes to Manila and the South Pacific, struggled with the same questions that plagued British horticultural authors, and proposed similarly surprising timekeeping technologies to “fix” the problem of following organic time anywhere in the world.
Through this unlikely comparison of the place-based—gardening—and the highly mobile—seafaring—I show how gardeners and navigators participated in an intellectual project to make place-based timekeeping more portable and, in turn, to use organic timekeeping practices to make the natural world more legible. I show that between the calendar and the clock, and between the universal and the local, early nineteenth-century European and American sailors, gardeners, merchants, and mathematicians perceived other scales of time and developed a sense of what a universal timekeeping technology based in local conditions should look like. In practices such as log-keeping, sounding the depths, and growing vegetables out of season, we can see these authors trying to modernize and standardize organic time.


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