Translating Nature: Changes in the perception and utilization of Science in the Halle Mission in South India, c. 1706-1813

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This paper explores the role of science in the protestant Danish- and English-Halle Mission in South India in the eighteenth century, c. 1706–1813. During this period, science, broadly construed and including natural history, was employed as a sort of intercultural translating medium for and in the mission. However, the way this medium was utilized changed significantly through three chronological phases. The first phase was one of pre-Linnaean science where the mission collected, transformed and circulated both texts and objects of science from India with Europe. The aim was to aid religious instruction in Europe and raise support for the mission from Europe. The second phase saw the expansion of science from the mission’s Danish branch to the English branch as well as changes in the kinds of specimens collected and techniques of ordering them. In the final third phase, the role of science in the mission changed due to the introduction of Linnaean taxonomy and Physico-theology. Now scientific objects and instruments were employed as media in the evangelizing efforts of the missionaries within the local Hindu population.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIndian Journal of History of Science
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)456-475
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2020


  • India
  • Mission
  • Natural History
  • Tranquebar
  • Translation
  • Science

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