Workshop: How to work with Alexander von Humboldt’s legacy?


How to begin with Humboldtian Studies? How can we define his scientific objectives and his working methods? Where can we find the type of information we need? What parts of his works are accessible in English or Spanish?

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«Arguing about which nation treats black people with more humanity is making fun of the word humanity»

Diaries, Guayaquil (Ecuador), January 4th - February 17th, 1803

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In order to provide the answer to these questions, this workshop aims to offer a general introduction to Alexander von Humboldt, his life, his work and his legacy, and also, with a practical orientation, to provide access to his texts and graphic works.

The workshop consists of two parts:

  • The first part discusses what we understand by Humboldtian Science and the meaning it has today, especially in the context of the commemoration of his 250th anniversary. 

  • The second part explains Humboldt’s work as a whole, including his publications, journals, cartography, infographics and correspondence. In addition, with the example of some of his texts, it shows what needs to be taken into account when working with these sources. It also indicates the main sources that may be useful to find additional information about Humboldt. 

With this structure, the workshop is designed to be taught over two days. However, it can also be adapted to different circumstances, either by reducing it by a day or extending it to a longer duration.