EL MERCURIO VOLANTE: EL ESPACIO PÚBLICO Y EL DISCURSO CIENTÍFICO ILUSTRADO EN LA NUEVA ESPAÑA
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With an interdisciplinary approach, this project explores Dr. José Ignacio Bartolache's scientific-medical journal, Mercurio Volante (1772-1773), in the context of New Spain during the last decades of the viceroyalty. I argue that this journal is targeted to an audience as a platform from which enlightened values are transmitted and where knowledge is constructed as it enters into the public sphere. It is in the public sphere where knowledge is formalized and rehearsed as methodologically sound, as it becomes amply available, and gets exposed to criticism and debate. Furthermore, Bartolache consolidates his role as an expert, and his scientific authority that nevertheless transforms him into a moral guide not far from Catholic precepts. I explore the complexities and paradoxes of the Enlightenment in the context of New Spain, as I draw parallels and contrasts with contemporary thinkers, such as Benito Feijoo, José Alzate y Ramírez, and Joaquín Velázquez de León. I propose that Dr. Bartolache contributes to a more inclusive Enlightenment by configuring a local methodology, which fuses European scientific knowledge (Cartesian, Newtonian, and Boerhaaverian) with local experiences. This is especially evident in Bartolache's experiments on the pulque blanco, a native alcoholic beverage, and his observations and treatment of female hysteria. The Mercurio Volante, as I maintain, is a cultural object that reflects and collects traits of the political thought of late colonial Mexico under the House of Bourbon. Even though throughout its pages there is a recurrent objective to convey truths discovered by the demonstrative method, it is also placed as a response to the arguments diminishing the abilities of the inhabitants of the Americas. Dr. Bartolache counter argues the French naturalist Buffon, and his follower, Cornelius de Pauw, by participating in the Defense of the New World and contributing to the construction of criollo protonational identities. I conclude the Mercurio Volante consolidates the public sphere, which in turn strengthens Dr. Bartolache's authority, reinserting his ideas into the República de las Letras.