Transfer, diffusion, exchange: Such concepts make up the usual theoretical vocabulary of histories of knowledge. This panel investigates the meanings of such terms, and the extent to which they reflect historical epistemologies that constrain the knowledge practices they are trying to make sense of.
Transfer, transmission, diffusion, exchange, appropriation, translation, circulation, negotiation: Concepts like these make up the theoretical vocabulary of purported universal import to deal with histories of knowledge in all cultural and temporal contexts. They are revealing of deeper theoretical approaches and methodologies which, in their turn, try to construe and analyze the phenomena under study in terms of centers and peripheries, networks, comparisons, levels of agency or hierarchies (the latter involving people, societies, regions and knowledge itself, more frequently than not seen as different from "mere information"). The aim of this panel is to investigate the meanings and consequences of such conceptual choices, and the extent to which they reflect historical epistemologies that constrain, from the start, the knowledge practices they are trying to make sense of. The participants will present concrete case-studies and personal experiences of having to confront historical material that defy our categories of analysis and their genealogies, considering at the same time their limitations in producing narratives about knowledge practices in which Europe is not necessarily prominent. This is emphatically not an exercise in producing yet another manifesto, rather an exchange of points of view based on our varied historiographical terrains, in the Americas, Africa, Europe and Asia.