Editor Charlotte Sleigh writes:
We begin 2016 with a joint Singer-award winner of 2014, Jenny Bulstrode. ‘The industrial archaeology of deep time’, reveals how a Victorian paper-manufacturer helped to make sense of difficult-to-interpret prehistoric artefacts. To make a major contribution to the acceptance of the antiquity of man, he drew on his experiences of industrial culture; en route he had to legitimate his own expertise and the validity of his novel methods of re-enactment.
The journal then takes a turn into the early modern. Noah Moxham’s ‘An experimental ‘Life’ for an experimental life: Richard Waller’s biography of Robert Hooke (1705)’ examines the first ever biography to place the scientific activity of its subject at centre stage. Moxham argues that in modelling his approach very closely on the structure of the Royal Society’s records, Waller was principally concerned with making Hooke’s work and biography useful to the Fellowship. Dmitri Levitin meanwhile critiques a historiographical near-consensus concerning Hooke’s rival, Newton. He argues in ‘Newton and scholastic philosophy’ that Newton did not, as is often supposed, hold an elaborate metaphysics; and that his seemingly ‘metaphysical’ statements were in fact anti-scholastic polemical salvoes.
Finally, we follow Matthew Adamson into the deserts of Morocco, into a history whose plot could come from a spy novel. ‘Les liaisons dangereuses: resource surveillance, uranium diplomacy and secret French–American collaboration in 1950s Morocco’ explains how the priority of American and French geologists switched from finding a major uranium lode to hiding it from whatever government might emerge post-independence. What they had not counted on was how the Kingdom of Morocco would take a page out of the French book, using uranium exploration to assert sovereignty over a different disputed territory.
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