Debating New Approaches to Histories of the Sciences

All are invited to attend the online symposium Debating New Approaches to Histories of the Sciences, organized as part of the History of Knowledge Seminar Series @ Utrecht University

Date: Friday 21 May 2021

Time: 9:30-17:30 (CEST)
Place: Online (Microsoft Teams)
* Registration not required. Please find the link to the meeting below * 

Theodore Arabatzis (Athens)
Peter Burke (Cambridge) 
Lydia Patton (Virginia Tech)
Kapil Raj (EHESS Paris)
Hans-Jörg Rheinberger (MPIWG Berlin)
Suman Seth (Cornell) 

Hasok Chang (Cambridge)
Jim Secord (Cambridge)
Katherina Kinzel (Utrecht)
James Poskett (Warwick)
Massimiliano Simons (Ghent)
Meredith Palmer (Cornell) 

Recent decades have seen the emergence of a number of promising new approaches to the historical study of the sciences. All share the goal of understanding scientific thinking and practice as historical phenomena, but each does so in its own distinctive way: created against different backgrounds and in response to different problem situations – within and outside academia – they orient themselves around different themes, topics and perspectives. This raises the issue of whether and if so, how, these approaches could best collaborate. 

Rather than seeking unity, this symposium aims to explore overlaps and articulate common challenges, with the expectation that future collaborations between the new approaches will ultimately contribute to their shared goal. Bringing together leading scholars of both older and younger generations from across the Western world and beyond, it investigates how historical research into the sciences is responding to current developments in society – such as digitization, globalization, social injustice and environmental concerns – as well as in the humanities and social sciences, such as the material and visual turns. More than an overview of historical methods, the symposium offers an insight into contemporary historical thinking in the making. 


9:25 (CEST) Walk-in

9:30-13:00 SESSION 1 (with an introduction by Lukas Verburgt)

9:30 Hans-Jörg Rheinberger: ‘Historical Epistemology, Then and Now’, response by Massimiliano Simons 

10:20 Peter Burke: ‘Emancipating the History of Knowledge’, response by Jim Secord 

11:10 Short break

11:20 Theodore Arabatzis: ‘Integrated HPS as a Form of History’, response by Hasok Chang 

12:10 Plenary discussion #1 

13:00 Lunch break

14:00-17:30 SESSION 2

14:00 Kapil Raj: ‘For a Global History of Science: New Playing Field, New Goal Posts, New Rules…and an Example’, response by James Poskett 

14:50 Lydia Patton: ‘Dynamics of Reason’, response by Katherina Kinzel

15:40 Short break

15:50 Suman Seth: ‘You Can’t Get There from Here: A Postcolonial Theorist on Decolonizing the Academy’, response by Meredith Palmer 

16:40 Plenary discussion #2 

17:30 End 

All are welcome to join and registration is not required. Please use the following link to access the meeting:

More information
For more information please visit our website or send an email to

Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash 

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