University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Departmental Seminars in History and Philosophy of Science > Questions and questionnaires: knowledge, evidences and rituals of speaking in the early modern period

Questions and questionnaires: knowledge, evidences and rituals of speaking in the early modern period

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I will present my new project on the history of questions and questionnaires from the 15th to 19th century. The works devoted to the scientific construction of the world have underlined two key processes: measurement and observation. In the continuity of these works I would like to study a common, though complicated, practice: asking questions. Techniques such as having somebody talk, preventing him or her from lying, collecting and cross-checking testimonies are essential to the history of scientific expeditions but also to the history of justice and confession. How did the ritual of avowal become a way to appropriate knowledge for scientists? How did the use of questionnaires move from courthouses, religious and civil administrations, to scientific activities? I will focus my presentation on the 1570s, when several questionnaires were sent to the Americas and when Francisco Hernández, a physician to King Felipe II, was sent to Mexico in order to ask questions to Amerindians.

This talk is part of the Departmental Seminars in History and Philosophy of Science series.

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