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A shared yearning for discoveries: Sven Hedin and the circulation of curiosity in the early twentieth century
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History of Science and Ideas.
2013 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper concerns how a sense of curiosity, a yearning for knowing the unknown, was circulated and cultivated through practices of exploration in the early twentieth century. My empirical focal point is the Swedish explorer Sven Hedin. He undertook four expeditions to Asia between 1893 and 1935, and became influential in international geography as well as a European celebrity. His books, articles and lectures, for example “My Life as an Explorer” (1925), were best sellers. There was a keen interest in scientific expeditions and explorers in the early 20th century and I ask how curiosity was a way to invite the audience to these endeavors. Emotions of curiosity were crucial for enrolling the public, teaching them to feel like discoverers. The paper thus traces the historical construction of a modern desire to see the world in an exploratory mode. I view emotions as collectively cultivated. Indeed, my methodological claim is that publications and popular presentations were among the arenas where feelings were circulated and emotional communities shaped. The paper draws on research about the cultural and historical construction of emotions. Albeit bodily phenomena, emotions like curiosity are produced, suppressed and cultivated socially. Research in STS has created far-reaching insights into how knowledge circulates. The paper brings together this research with discussions on emotions and explores the travel and circulation of curiosity as a scientific emotion.

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URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-212074OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-212074DiVA: diva2:676013
Annual meeting of the Society for the Social Studies of Science, San Diego, 9-12 oktober 2013
Available from: 2013-12-05 Created: 2013-12-05 Last updated: 2013-12-05

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