Pacific Circle Online Lecture, 26 January 2023: Sebestian Kroupa on Making Knowledge Across Indo-Pacific Worlds, c.1700

The Pacific Circle would like to invite you to its next Online Lecture, which will take place via Zoom on Wednesday 26 January 2023 at 7am London time.

Please click here to view a flyer with all the information.

On Bezoars and Other Healing Stones in Manila: Making Knowledge Across Indo-Pacific Worlds, c.1700

Sebestian Kroupa
(University of Cambridge)

Abstract: Early modern worlds were gripped by a veritable craze for different sorts of healing stones found inside animals and plants. In addition to searching for precious metals, gems, and useful plants, enterprising individuals were scouring animal and plant bodies for stony concretions: most prominently bezoars, which were considered universal antidotes in different Eurasian healing systems. One of the most important hubs in the production and trade of healing stones was the Spanish outpost in Manila. This paper uses healing stones and Manila to revisit early modern trans-Pacific histories and present the Indian and the Pacific Oceans as a space of multiple overlapping networks and geographies, in which knowledge travelled at specific times but not at others. By tracing the trajectories of the stones, the paper will show how different colonial communities turned the objects into medicines, curiosities, or magical and religious objects. Indigenous Filipinos used their labour and knowledge to claim their stake in the enterprise but were also confronted by Christian missionaries who worked to overwrite Indigenous natural and spiritual worlds. As the stones traversed oceanic waves and sites of knowledge making, the objects became entangled in and disentangled from different systems of economy, knowledge, and labour in processes that shed light on the complex historical and cultural dynamics in Indo-Pacific worlds.

Sebestian Kroupa is Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow at the University of Cambridge and Research Fellow at Wolfson College, Cambridge. His research is concerned with the histories of natural and medical knowledge in the early modern Indian and Pacific Oceans, with a particular focus on southeast Asia and the Spanish Empire. Sebestian has published on topics including Indigenous tattooing in the Philippines (American Historical Review, 2022) and co-edited a special issue on “Science and Islands in Indo-Pacific Worlds” (BJHS, 2018). He is currently working on a monograph which examines how Philippine nature was constructed, commodified, and globalized in the early modern era.

Zoom link ––– Passcode: 999780