Patrick Anthony

Patrick Anthony is a PhD Candidate in the History Department at Vanderbilt University. Thanks to research grants from the Fulbright Program and from the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), he will be based at the Lichtenberg Kolleg in 2018-19 while carrying out dissertation research in Weimar, Freiberg, Berlin, and München.

Patrick’s dissertation—“Nature’s Working World: Mining, Travel, and Environment in the Time of Humboldt”—studies the relationship between science, industry, and nature-aesthetics in German-speaking Europe ca. 1770 – ca. 1850. This study takes a fresh perspective on Georg Forster (1754-1794) and Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), two figures celebrated for their global travels and holistic (if not “ecological”) conceptions of nature, by viewing them on (and under) the ground as they traveled through and worked in Germany’s mining industry. Resituating these cosmopolitan travelers in local, industrial settings shows how views of nature at the turn of the nineteenth century cannot be fully understood within the traditional dichotomy between Enlightened utilitarians and Romantic ecologists. Rather, this project draws out their era’s romanticization of resource extraction, suggesting that many, like Forster and Humboldt, learned to practice their reverence for nature through the use and exploitation of nature. Moreover, this project also demonstrates how industrial contexts, in turn, shaped knowledge about nature, particularly Humboldt’s cartography and plant geography.

Publications and Interviews



  • Anthony, Patrick. “Mining as the Working World of Alexander von Humboldt’s Plant Geography and Vertical Cartography.” Isis 109, no. 1 (2018): 28-55.

  • Interview by Isis on the article Anthony, Patrick. “Mining as the Working World of Alexander von Humboldt’s Plant Geography and Vertical Cartography.” Isis 109, no. 1 (2018): 28-55. link

  • Interview by Michael Robinson for the podcast Time to Eat the Dogs. link

  • Anthony, Patrick R. “Race and Republicanism in Philadelphia’s Aurora: How Anglophobia and Anti-monarchism Shaped William Duane’s Views of Revolutions in Saint-Domingue and Latin America, 1798-1822.” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography CXLI, no. 1 (January 2017): 31-58.

  • Guest Contributor to the “Wissen Blog-Netzwerk für Forschung und Kultur” by the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin and Preußischer Kulturbesitz: “Vertical Thinking in the Time of Humboldt.” link

  • Guest Contributor to the Blog for the Journal of the History of Ideas: “Thinking about Knowledge in Motion and Social Engagement at HSS.” link