This project seeks to put our present knowledge-permeated discourse in perspective by developing a new field of scholarly inquiry: the history of knowledge. Our point of departure is that knowledge is in essence a historical phenomenon that must necessarily be studied in broad societal contexts. In recent years, the history of knowledge has slowly started to be written, albeit piecemeal by a handful of research initiatives. It remains a young and still far from coherent field; its greatest benefit is that it puts knowledge—not science, culture, or ideas—at the centre of the historical endeavour. Our purpose, however, is to embark on a comprehensive programme, combining theoretical considerations and empirical analyses. By doing so, we will explore how history—by contrasts and comparisons, as well as by linkages and genealogies—can elucidate contemporary conditions.

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