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Doctoral studies > PhD dissertations UAB

Carlos Acosta Rizo
La herencia del exilio científico español en América. Jose Royo y Gómez en el Servicio Geológico Nacional de Colombia
Supervisor/s: Xavier Roqué Rodríguez
Date of defense: 03-04-2009

This PhD thesis describes and analyses the scientific work of Spanish geologist and palaeontologist José Royo y Gómez in Colombia, focusing attention on his previous work in Spain, identifying his main contributions to regional, national and global knowledge of geology and the gestation and reinforcement of Colombian geoscientific institutionality, with emphasis on his work at the Museo Geológico de Colombia (MGC).

This report also describes the man’s interaction (along with that of his colleagues and the institutionality he represented) with Colombian scientists, as well as those from other countries that were also involved in geosciences in Colombia. It also analyses and characterises his work in the light of certain scientific forms that were identified in his work and documentary material, all viewed in relation to the general situation of Colombia, Spain and the world of science, without ignoring other political, economic and social contexts of the first half of the 20th century.

The research therefore fits into a broad timeframe that covers diverse and increasingly delimitated periods of time in accordance with particular interests, which is reflected in the detail of the exposition and presentation of the corresponding results.

The study therefore covers the period from the end of the 19th century (when the first and most important scientific expeditions were made) to 1968 (the year that INGEOMINAS was set up, of which the Servicio Geológico Nacional, created in 1938, was one of the fundamental members). The research looks in more detail at the period from 1916 (the year that the Comisión Científica Nacional (CCN) was created) and the three-year period from 1960-63 (when there was a change in the official institutional way of doing geology in Colombia), and the research focuses in even more detail on the eleven-year period from 1939 to 1951 (corresponding to the arrival of Royo y Gómez in Colombia and his definitive departure for Venezuela), without forgetting his Spanish background up until 1915 (when he started working as a geologist and palaeontologist in Madrid).

Meanwhile, from a geographical point of view, the study involves two notably different societies, but which could also be claimed to share similarities. Both were governed by an irregular social dynamic, where there were profound economic and political differences, with progressive and conservative, civilian and military hegemonies during different periods, which succeeded or confronted each other over time; these societies were full of scientific intent and intentions, some triumphant and others frustrated, but which, for one reason or another, by the late 1930s lacked the support of sufficiently continuous, large or effective academic and research institutions to offer training or employment to the scientists and professionals of the period.

This thesis therefore examines social and cultural history as a whole (including the Spanish Republican Exile, in this case narrated by a protagonist) along with the history of science in order to throw some light on the conditions under which José Royo y Gómez did his work, and in passing, it describes the ways in which geoscience is handled in this Latin American country. All of this has served as the basis and core for developing a broader history of official geology and palaeontology in this country, and, on occasions, in Spain.