EARLY MODERN BOTANY, ETHNOGRAPHY AND THE RISE OF COMPARATIVE RELIGION: THE AMERICAN WORKS OF JOSEPH-FRANÇOIS LAFITAU (1681 – 1746) | Newberry

EARLY MODERN BOTANY, ETHNOGRAPHY AND THE RISE OF COMPARATIVE RELIGION: THE AMERICAN WORKS OF JOSEPH-FRANÇOIS LAFITAU (1681 – 1746)

Joseph-François Lafitau, Mœurs des sauvages amériquains comparées aux mœurs des premiers temps, (Paris, 1724). Engraved by J.B. Scotin
 

A Newberry Colloquium
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

4PM

Towner Fellows’ Lounge

Andreas Motsch, Lester J. Cappon Short-Term Fellow in Documentary Editing
Open to the Public
Newberry Colloquium

Lafitau is known as the discoverer of American ginseng (panax quinquefolius) and a precursor to scientific anthropology. His richly illustrated Mœurs des sauvages amériquains comparées aux mœurs des premiers temps (1724) offers unparalleled insights into Iroquois life, an innovative method of cultural comparison and testifies to the author’s aspiration to create a “science of customs”. Yet Lafitau’s production of knowledge is inscribed within an apologetic agenda and his preoccupation with religion has curtailed his reception ever since. Andreas Motsch’s talk addresses this paradox, explains his arguments in their historical context and argues for a reassessment of the author and his work.