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Reviewed by:
  • Saberes andinos: Ciencia y tecnología en Bolivia, Ecuador y Perú
  • José G. Rigau-Pérez
Marcos Cueto, ed. Saberes andinos: Ciencia y tecnología en Bolivia, Ecuador y Perú. Lima: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 1995. 213 pp. Tables, graphs. U.S. $24.00; elsewhere, $25.00 (paperbound).

Saberes andinos covers subjects and periods from aboriginal medicine to the nationalization of Bolivian mines in 1952. Nevertheless, it has a unity of focus: the sharing of cultural frameworks by apparently opposed groups. This theme is summarized in the very first word of the title, “Saberes,” which in Spanish can signify knowledge, learning, expertise, or lore. The editor, Peruvian historian Marcos Cueto, explains in the introduction that little research has been devoted to the relationship of native and European knowledge and technologies in fields such as medicine, agriculture, mining, and the rhetoric of nationalist political discourse. Among the reasons for these voids, he notes “the exhaustion of the traditional, ornamental, and parochial history of science and medicine,” the biased consideration of science and technology as imported goods, a lack of knowledge of the documentary sources, and the lack of a comprehensive approach to the past (p. 10).

The volume includes seven essays by an international group of investigators. The subjects of six of these—native healers and Galenic medicine (as presented by Suzanne Austin Alchon); popular knowledge of cinchona and ofÞcial science (by Eduardo Estrella); mercury mining interests in Huancavelica and European technologies in the eighteenth century (Kendall W. Brown); Hipólito Unanue, a pro-independence physician, and Spanish enlightenment public health measures (Jorge Cañizares); a geographical society that literally deÞned the Peruvian republic (Leoncio López-Ocón Cabrera); and state policies that both encouraged and obstructed the formation of a strong national group of engineers in Bolivia (Manuel E. Contreras C.)—all are examples of the “coexistence, tension, [End Page 189] complementarity, negotiation, and accommodation” that are announced in the introduction (p. 11) as basic components of the social impact of science and technology. The last essay, by Cueto, is a presentation of Lima’s repositories of sources for the history of science; for every archive he gives an institutional history, a street address, and a description of the documents and their provenance.

While the essays are very well written, one must note the absence of a subject index. Nevertheless, the reader profits from the recent references, and the indication that much discussion of these issues can be found in the journal Quipu, published in Mexico since 1984 by the Sociedad Latinoamericana de Historia de las Ciencias y de la Tecnología.

José G. Rigau-Pérez
University of Puerto Rico

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pp. 189-190
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