Alzate y Ramírez, José Antonio de (1737–1799)

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Alzate y Ramírez, José Antonio de (1737–1799)

José Antonio de Alzate y Ramírez (b. 21 November 1737; d. 2 February 1799), prominent figure in the Mexican Enlightenment. Born in Ozumba (modern state of Mexico), Alzate studied at the Colegio de San Ildefonso, where he received a bachelor's degree in theology in 1756, the same year he took holy orders. From an early age, Alzate was also deeply drawn to secular studies, including mathematics, physics, astronomy, and the natural sciences; his wide-ranging interests earned him the sobriquet the "Pliny of Mexico." Alzate carried out his own research, such as conducting astronomical observations to determine the latitude of Mexico City. However, he made his greatest scientific contribution as an author and editor, promoting new scientific knowledge and the worldview of the Enlightenment through a series of publications, culminating in the Gazeta de literatura de México (1788–1795). Though sometimes marred by polemics, this journal informed readers of the latest scientific advances in both Europe—Alzate had become a member of the Royal Academy of Sciences in Paris in 1771—and the Americas. Alzate translated foreign materials and himself contributed numerous articles in which he described Mexico's rich natural and human resources and pointed out the practical benefits of new scientific methods for Mexican economic development.

See alsoEnlightenment, Thexml .


Clement Motten, Mexican Silver and the Enlightenment (1950).

Bernabé Navarro B., Cultura mexicana moderna en el siglo xviii (1964).

Elías Trabulse, El círculo roto: Estudios históricos sobre la ciencia en México (1982).

Additional Bibliography

Aceves Pastrana, Patricia, editor. Periodismo científico en el siglo XVIII: José Antonio de Alzate y Ramírez. Mexico City: Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Unidad Xochimilco, Sociedad Química de México, 2001.

Aguila, Yves. "Estrategias del discurso científico criollo: Espejo y Alzate." Jahrbuch für Geschichte von Staat, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft Lateinamerikas 34 (1997): 245-257.

Codding, Mitchell A. "Perfecting the Geography of New Spain: Alzate and the Cartographic Legacy of Sigüenza y Góngora." Colonial Latin American Review 3 (1994): 185-219.

Saladino García, Alberto. El sabio: José Antonio Alzate Ramírez de Santillana. Toluca: Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México, 2001.

Saladino García, Alberto. Dos científicos de la Ilustración hispanoamericana: J.A. Alzate y F.J. de Caldas. México: Centro Coordinador y Difusor de Estudios Latinoamericanos, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1990.

                                             R. Douglas Cope