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CSS kollokvium: Linda Richter, University of Frankfurt

Introducing and Exploring Transnational Epistemic Things

26.11.2019 | Randi Mosegaard

Dato ons 01 apr
Tid 14:45 15:45
Sted TBA

Abstract: Scientific knowledge is often, by definition, believed to be inherently universal. Contrary to such a view of epistemic universalism, I will argue in this talk, that knowledge production became tied to the emerging nation states of the latter half of the 19th century ­and, as a result, became intertwined with political modes of competition, cooperation and delineation. This becomes particularly obvious in cases where the objects of inquiry are so big and/or so mobile that they transcend national borders. Such objects, like the earth’s atmosphere or migratory animals, I will call “transnational epistemic things”. These promise to be particularly revealing examples of problematic aspects of politicization of the sciences because by virtue of their transnational character, it did not make sense to study the weather and migration patterns of birds just on a national level – in both cases, an international approach was as imperative as it was very difficult to perform. This talk seeks to discuss in what ways different nation states served to advance knowledge in meteorology and ornithology and in what ways they may have hindered, delayed or prevented international cooperation. For this presentation, the empirical material in focus will be the published proceedings of international meetings in those two areas of knowledge from around 1850 until roughly 1920. Is the transnational character of the respective objects of inquiry addressed? What areas of data collection, circulation and analysis worked well? What were recurring problems? To what extent did national competition possibly overshadow efforts of collaboration? After introducing the concept of transnational epistemic things I will attempt some preliminary answers to these questions. 

 

Bio: Linda Richter is assistant professor in the History of Science at Goethe-University Frankfurt/Main after she also completed her PhD there. Her thesis explored the emerging field of weather knowledge in German countries between 1750 and 1850 when no meteorological paradigm was established yet and different forms of knowledge competed with one another. Her research focuses on history of science in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Coffee, tea, cakes and fruit will be served before the colloquium @ 2 pm

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