Tracing the Movement of Knowledge across Vast Distances and Long Temporal Spans

in Transfers

A research group at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science on “Itineraries of Materials, Recipes, Techniques, and Knowledge in the Early Modern World” held a series of workshops (2014–2015) on the movement of knowledge (materials, techniques, objects) across Eurasia, resulting in an edited volume. Participants articulated a framework of “entangled itineraries,” “material complexes,” and “nodes of convergence” by which historians might follow routes of knowledge-making extending over very long distances and/or great spans of time. The key concepts are (1) “material complex” denoting the constellation of substances, practices, techniques, beliefs, and values that accrete as knowledge around materials; (2) the “relational field,” the social, intellectual, economic, emotional domain formed by a “node of convergence”—often a hub of trade and exchange—within which a material complex crystalizes; and (3) “itineraries,” or the routes taken by materials through which they stabilize and/ or transform.