Dr Gianamar Giovannetti-Singh
My research seeks to understand how the interaction of different cultures of knowledge produced new sciences that circulated across the world in the early modern period. I am particularly interested in studying the role played by long-distance corporations, such as the Society of Jesus and the Dutch East India Company, in globalising local knowledge traditions.
In 2023, I completed my PhD, titled 'Globalising China: Jesuits, Eurasian Exchanges, and the Early Modern Sciences', in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge. The dissertation reveals how the Manchu conquest of China in 1644 transformed the sciences across Europe. It reorients common accounts of the history of science by showing that several scientific debates typically deemed 'European' originated in China, emerging through local peoples’ interactions with Jesuit missionaries. Focusing on the Jesuit Martino Martini’s writings, my PhD explains how Chinese cultures of knowledge became valuable intellectual and political resources in Enlightenment Europe.
My postdoctoral project, supported by a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship, instead, aims to examine how early modern Europeans drew on their knowledge of East Asia to make sense of the unfamiliar at the Cape of Good Hope. Almost every traveller voyaging between Europe and the East Indies spent time at the Cape, where they engaged with the Indigenous Khoekhoen, enslaved Malays, and European settlers, producing new, hybrid knowledges in the process. The project seeks to understand how new knowledge was produced through a triangular Asian-African-European arrangement.
In Autumn 2021, I was a Visiting Predoctoral Fellow in Department III at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, where I led the project 'Of Soils and Stars: Jesuit Perceptions of Chinese Agricultural Practices through Calendrical Construction'. In Spring 2022, I was a Junior Fellow at the Descartes Centre at Universiteit Utrecht, where I studied early modern Dutch representations of southern Africa and its inhabitants. In June 2022, I received a Lisa Jardine Award to study the reception of Chinese astronomy at the Royal Society in London. I was a Freer Prize Fellow of the Royal Institution for the academic year 2022-23, and was shortlisted as a BBC New Generation Thinker in 2023.