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Exploring Traditions: Sources for a Global History of Science
May 30, 2014 @ 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
This workshop is the third in a series that continues an important set of debates and reflexions on the interaction between histories of the sciences and models of global history. These debates ask fundamental questions about what science has meant on the global stage and how sciences have come to take form through global confrontations, connections and politics.
The workshops have been tied to visits to Cambridge by scholars from South Africa, India and also the Middle East. This third workshop will coincide with the visit of Prof. Dhruv Raina (JNU). An aim of these workshops is to link UK-based scholars with those working elsewhere in the world on questions of the sciences’ past. The network is also connected with the Centres of South Asian Studies and African Studies and the Faculty of History and the Department of History and Philosophy of Science in the University of Cambridge.
The need for a global history of science emerged from a series of critiques about the map of the history of science. It was felt that European materials and languages had dominated the telling of science’s past. There was the criticism that if the wider world emerged in narrations of the history of science it did so in the name of European expansion and empire. Attention was paid to how scholars in other parts of the world had generated nationalist accounts of their intellectual history in responding to European narrations. And there was the theoretical problem that European approaches to the history of science, privileging practice theory or actor-network theory, were being expanded elsewhere. The turn to the global has been refreshing and politically important but has generated a series of counter-questions. Does the global flatten space in histories of science? Does the global present a view from nowhere without taking locality seriously? How can radically different sorts of knowledge traditions be brought together? How should historians of science deal with fault-lines between regions, or oceans and lands, or cities and hinterlands? We hope that students and scholars engaging with histories of science from different vantage points and at different stages will attend.