Author:Florian Grafl (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)
Paper short abstract:
This paper analyses social sketches ('cuadros de costumbres') in Spain and its former south-American and Caribbean colonies in the 19th century. It argues that these short but essential descriptions of daily life established an early tradition concerning the ethnographic knowledge production.
Paper long abstract:
In the course of the early decades of the 19th century, social sketches became a widespread form of sociographic journalism, mainly in the (central-) European countries but also, with a certain deferment, in other parts of the world as well. Their popularization was favored by the increasing liberalization of censorship as well as new developments in print and diffusion, which enabled the production of periodicals on a large scale and lead to the consolidation of reading groups of a considerable size. As hybrids between social research on the one hand and entertainment on the other, social sketches for a start obtained a very popular position in French and English periodicals. Later, especially in Spain and its (former) colonies the so-called "cuadros de costumbres" turned into a far-reaching tradition of describing social types and cultural routines in order to met the increased needs for analysing urban, economic, and political developments of the modern industrial societies.
The aim of this paper, deriving from research undertaken within a history of science framework, is to investigate how this form of early journalism constituted a significant agent for future scientific knowledge production and in which ways it can be seen as a result of the preoccupations of contemporary ethnologists and sociologists. By focusing not only on the 'cuadros de costumbres' which originated from Spain, but also on samples which were published later in (former) Spanish colonies, the paper moreover highlights the transnational and global dimensions of this early form of ethnographic self-examination.
'Peripheral' anthropologies of Europe. Their histories and intellectual genealogies [Europeanist network]