Exporting textbooks: the Latin American enterprise of Rudolph Ackermann

Eugenia Roldan Vera

University of Cambridge

Between 1824 and 1828, Rudolph Ackermann, in his London-based business of art-printing, carriage-designing, publishing and book-selling, produced a series of books, magazines and textbooks in Spanish addressed to newly-independent Latin America. In this paper I discuss the organisation of the production of the textbooks, with the aim of showing how the diversity of interests and the negotiation between the people involved in the enterprise affected the printed outcomes.

Twenty-four textbooks of all topics of the arts and sciences were published and distributed in several cities of Mexico, Guatemala, Gran Colombia, Peru, Chile and Argentina. Written in the form of questions and answers, they were indeed adapted translations of William Pinnock's series of catechisms. The translators were a group of Spanish liberals exiled in London, partly sponsored by the Mexican charge d'affairs in England. The interests and practical needs of the translators, sponsor and publisher in this enterprise were not always the same, and indeed some of these tensions were reflected in the texts: as I show in the paper with a few examples, the image these textbooks portray of Latin America itself, and the values reflected in the way the information is presented are of a diverse character. The comparison between the original and the translated versions proved very useful to trace the purposes involved in this unique publishing enterprise.

Table of Contents - Joint Meeting between the Textbook Colloquium and The British Society for the History of Science held on January 10th 1998 at Leeds University.


© 1998