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Science and power in the Portuguese Empire: a prosopographic analysis of the trajectories of five border-settling astronomers of the eighteenth century

Grant number: 16/17965-7
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): April 01, 2017
Effective date (End): December 03, 2018
Field of knowledge:Humanities - History - History of Science
Acordo de Cooperação: Coordination of Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES)
Principal Investigator:Thomas Augusto Santoro Haddad
Grantee:Otavio Crozoletti Costa
Host Institution: Escola de Artes, Ciências e Humanidades (EACH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):18/03506-6 - Additional sources for a prosopographic analysis of the careers of five border-settling astronomers of the eighteenth century, BE.EP.MS


In the last quarter of the eighteenth century, after the signature of the Treaty of San Ildefonso, several delegations were dispatched to locally settle the boundaries between the South American possessions of the Portuguese and Spanish Crowns, employing astronomical methods. Among the astronomers officially appointed to the Portuguese expeditions were Francisco José de Lacerda e Almeida (1753-1798), António Pires da Silva Pontes Leme (1750-1805), Bento Sanches Dorta (1739-1795), Francisco de Oliveira Barbosa (?-?) and José Simões de Carvalho (?-?). Born in Portugal or in Brazil, and graduated in the new mathematical course of the recently reformed University of Coimbra, these men of science would afterwards move to occupy either important positions in the administration of the empire, or become members of the Lisbon Academy of Sciences, or at least gain close proximity to high-ranking agents of the state apparatus. At the same time, Portuguese enlightened reformism was consolidating an image of science and education as essential endeavors for a better understanding of the territories of the empire, in the hope of increasing agriculture, industry and trade. At the European level, a scientific field with a relative degree of autonomy was in turn starting to take shape, but reconversions of specific scientific capitals into political ones were still quite frequent. This project intends to perform a prosopographic study about that group of Coimbra-educated, border-settling astronomers, aiming to identify, by the analysis of their trajectories, the reciprocal influences between the actors' ties to political power-players and their range of possibilities of establishing a reputation in the scientific field. (AU)

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Academic Publications
(References retrieved automatically from State of São Paulo Research Institutions)
COSTA, Otavio Crozoletti. Science and power in the portuguese empire: an analysis of the trajectories of five border-settling astronomers of the eighteenth century. 2018. Master's Dissertation - Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Escola de Artes, Ciências e Humanidades (EACH) São Paulo.

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