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This chapter historicizes the concept of culture to better understand discussions of culture and cultural difference in the sciences and beyond. Historicization not only traces the past meanings and practices related to "culture" but also contributes to a more refined and reflexive application of the concept today. Historiographical consensus is that the modern notion of culture was constructed in the nineteenth century in opposition to the sciences. In contrast, this chapter studies a key moment in the late sixteenth century, when the meaning of culture was expanded from "agricultural cultivation" into a full-fledged "epistemic culture." A study of the Jesuit polemicist and educational reformer Antonio Possevino shows how "culture" comes to stand for a new educational program of the sciences, together with its corresponding pedagogical institutions. “Culture” is not yet essentialized: it remains an active word that implies processes of cultivation. On the other hand, culture is politicized.

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