Kategorie: Wissensgeschichte

‘Collecting’ and Comparing – Skulls, Transatlantic Knowledge Production, and Racial Science

On May 29, 1793, Göttingen anthropologist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach received a Georgian woman’s skull. It would later become the most prominent representation of the so-called Caucasian variety of humankind. His Russian skull supplier, Georg Thomas von Asch, emphasized the “coincidence”1 of finding this specific skull. Only due to her sudden death had the deceased woman … Continue reading ‘Collecting’ and Comparing – Skulls, Transatlantic Knowledge Production, and Racial Science

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Everyday Knowledge, Science, and Psychiatric Committals during Germany’s Age of Extremes

Hans A. was 72 years old and in good shape when he was admitted to the Eglfing-Haar Mental Institution in March 1944.1 This Bavarian asylum was notorious at the time for its high mortality rate, and Hans A. died there within two months without having shown any signs of serious illness prior to his admission. … Continue reading Everyday Knowledge, Science, and Psychiatric Committals during Germany’s Age of Extremes

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Knowledge Notes

Occasional notes on calls, events, publications, and more that caught our attention. Please email us your own items. Calls for Papers: The History of Intellectual Culture (HIC) International Yearbook of Knowledge and Society seeks contributors and/or guest editors for its 2025 volume. Research articles should be around 8,000 words; theoretical contributions, review essays, etc., can … Continue reading Knowledge Notes

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For the Love of Bread and Barches – The Very German-Jewish Challah Knife

That Germans love bread seems to be one stereotype that is largely accurate. Given Germany’s rich baking culture, it is perhaps not surprising that it also has a long tradition of producing challot, braided loaves eaten during Shabbat. There were many expressions for challah, including Datscher, Challe, and Striezel.1 The most common terms, Barches and … Continue reading For the Love of Bread and Barches – The Very German-Jewish Challah Knife

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Call for Proposals to Online Source Portal ‘History of the German-Jewish Diaspora’

For a German version of this call, please visit Geschichte der deutsch-jüdischen Diaspora . Deadline: January 31, 2024. The Moses Mendelssohn Center for European-Jewish Studies is seeking authors for a digital platform. It is dedicated to the lifeworlds of German-speaking Jewish women and men who emigrated or fled from their countries of origin beginning in … Continue reading Call for Proposals to Online Source Portal ‘History of the German-Jewish Diaspora’

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Styles of Reasoning and the History of Knowledge

We have many different cognitive abilities, and human history runs on many paths. Not surprisingly, there are many ways to conduct scientific research. … These are distinct styles of reasoning, each of which has been developed in its own way, in its own time frame, and each of which contributes to the larger fabric of … Continue reading Styles of Reasoning and the History of Knowledge

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Rumors in Transition: Uncertain Information in the Premodern Culture of News

“Flying Tales” of War Sometime in early 1523, the merchant Matthias Mulich (†1528) received a letter from his servant Matthias Scharpenberch. Mulich usually lived and worked in the Hanseatic city of Lübeck but was staying in Nuremberg at the time for family reasons. There, he regularly received letters that informed him about the situation in … Continue reading Rumors in Transition: Uncertain Information in the Premodern Culture of News

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Provenance Research as History of Knowledge: Archaeological Finds from the Syrian-Turkish Border at the British Museum

The British Museum is one of the most popular museums in the world. The free permanent exhibition provides information about two million years of human history from a cross-cultural perspective. Since its founding in 1753, the museum has had a clearly universal ambition: It has aimed to explore and exhibit the history of the world … Continue reading Provenance Research as History of Knowledge: Archaeological Finds from the Syrian-Turkish Border at the British Museum

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Unicorns: Knowledge of the Environment and the Hispanic Mediterratlantic

Unicorns, although they are non-existent, are ubiquitous today as symbols. For example, they remain the national animal of Scotland, first added to the Scottish coat of arms in the 1500s to represent the untamable, proud nature of Scotland. Unicorns also intrigued ancient, medieval, and early modern authors who wrote about these imaginary animals and how … Continue reading Unicorns: Knowledge of the Environment and the Hispanic Mediterratlantic

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Exploring Histories of Risk and Knowledge

Introduction When Ulrich Beck published Risk Society in 1986, the sociologist could have hardly known how influential his work would become for scholars studying risk. The idea that industrial modernity undermined itself through the very means of technological advancement proved exceptionally relevant. At the time of publication, chemical industries and nuclear energy presented paramount environmental … Continue reading Exploring Histories of Risk and Knowledge

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Why Should You Trust Geometry? The Mathematics of Mining in Early Modern Germany

My book Underground Mathematics tells the story of a discipline that has been forgotten today, subterranean geometry. Known as “the art of setting limits” (Markscheidekunst) in German and geometria subterranea in Latin, it developed in the silver mines of early modern Europe. From the Ore Mountains of Saxony to the Harz, in many mining cities … Continue reading Why Should You Trust Geometry? The Mathematics of Mining in Early Modern Germany

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Owning the (Deep) Past: Paleontological Knowledge and the Political Afterlives of Fossils

Who do fossils belong to? The question is far from new: in various guises, it has preoccupied paleoscientists, museum curators, and occasionally officials for many years, although ongoing debates about the decolonization of science and natural history collections have renewed its significance. For my childhood self, the answer would have been simple: fossils belong to … Continue reading Owning the (Deep) Past: Paleontological Knowledge and the Political Afterlives of Fossils

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How Ignorance Made Modern Science

I have in my dayes seene a hundred Artificers, and as many laborers, more wise and more happy, then some Rectors in the university, and whom I would rather resemble.1 Michel de Montaigne Montaigne’s celebration of ignorance and simplicity in his erudite Essays (1580) may seem paradoxical at first, but such praises were not uncommon … Continue reading How Ignorance Made Modern Science

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Traveling Zoos as Knowledge Mediators?

Traveling zoos were a common and very popular form of entertainment in the long nineteenth century. Also known as menageries, they were large companies that moved around with various exotic wild species such as lions, tigers, and elephants. For young and old alike, it was often the first and only time they got to see … Continue reading Traveling Zoos as Knowledge Mediators?

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Knowledge Notes

Occasional notes on calls, events, publications, and more that caught our attention. Please tweet or email us your own items. Short-term Fellowships, Grants, and Internships Lessons of the Cold War? – Visegrad Scholarship at the Open Society Archives, deadline July 25, 2023. Twenty grants of EUR 2,700 each offered by the Vera and Donald Blinken … Continue reading Knowledge Notes

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Knowledge Notes

Occasional notes on calls, events, publications, and more that caught our attention. Please tweet or email us your own items. Conference The International Hybrid Conference “The Intertwining of Magic and Knowledge/Sciences in the Premodern Mediterranean (and Beyond)” is currently taking place in Paris, May 18-19, 2023. Click here for the program and link to participate. … Continue reading Knowledge Notes

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Kabbalah and Knowledge Transfers in Early Modernity

Foreword to the special issue of the European Journal of Jewish Studies 16, no. 1 (2022) Editors’ Note: As the History of Knowledge blog aims to facilitate scholarly exchange related to the field, the editors wish to highlight this recent special issue about “Kabbalah and Knowledge Transfers in Early Modernity” by reproducing the editors’ foreword … Continue reading Kabbalah and Knowledge Transfers in Early Modernity

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