Foto: David von Becker
Sandra Rebok, Berlin
“If we look at Humboldt's writings, go to the original sources and examine his diaries, his published writings or even his correspondence, then we very quickly see that there are many things he can still inspire us with today. However, we should not instrumentalise him for our interests, as has often been done in the past. Even today, however, I see a clear tendency to see Humboldt as the origin of certain concepts, movements or ideas. This can be seen in the repeated attributions applied to him, i.e. in his designation as the first networker, the first globally active scientist, the first human rights activist, or – particularly popular at the moment – the first to take an interest in the impact of human beings on the environment. This is not only wrong from the perspective of the history of science, we also fail to do justice to Humboldt and research on him with this way of thinking. His work is characterised by the fact that he brought together different fields of knowledge and the research findings of others, constantly referring to the work of his contemporaries and predecessors. He sought the progress of the sciences not so much through groundbreaking new ideas as through a continuous chain of ideas, through constant thinking ahead, a further development of concepts whose origins he already recognised in the historical sources he consulted.”
Conexión Humboldt (english)
Sandra Rebok is a historian of science and researches in Spain, Germany and the USA on networks, the globalisation of knowledge and transnational scientific cooperation in the 19th century. In addition to numerous publications on Humboldt, she has published three of his works in Spanish.