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How Knowledge MovesWriting the Transnational History of Science and Technology$
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John Krige

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226605852

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226606040.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 24 July 2021

Bringing the Environment Back In

Bringing the Environment Back In

A Transnational History of Landsat

(p.201) Chapter Seven Bringing the Environment Back In
How Knowledge Moves

Neil M. Maher

University of Chicago Press

This essay analyzes the often overlooked, yet central, role played by the natural environment in the transnational history of science and technology. To illustrate this, it explores the history of NASA’s Landsat satellites as a case study to trace how technology developed within the United States became a hub that bound together a thick transnational network of space and ground communication systems, international and national agencies, American corporations and NASA, as well as indigenous engineers, technicians, and scientists attempting to better understand, and control, the natural environment. During the early 1970s, as the US government withdrew from the war in Vietnam and explored new means of engagement across the developing world, Landsat’s transnational network began helping scientists from Africa, Latin America, and Asia gather data regarding their countries’ natural resources. In the process not only did local environments from Botswana to Burma to Brazil influence the structure and functioning of this transnational network, but Landsat technology and the science it enabled also became mechanisms for both American hegemony and limited local control within the developing world.

Keywords:   nature, data, natural resources, hegemony, satellite, NASA, developing world, Africa, Brazil, Vietnam

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