Being a human activity, calculation has a history, even if its operations yield "facts" apparently true in any context. One plus one might always be two, but the methods to arrive at such results, not to mention what they might mean, are another matter. Recent histories involving calculation on this blog include Staffan Müller-Wille and … Continue reading Calculation
Readers of this blog may have asked themselves what the image identifying the Learning by the Book contributions shows. At first glance, the photo simply contains a row of worn, bound, heavy handbooks on a library shelf. The books are arguably very European and modern; however, they convey an aspect of “bookish” materiality that many … Continue reading The Politics of the Handbook
We are members of knowledge societies, but we live in “an age of ignorance.” We are swimming in “oceans of ignorance” that have been consciously, unconsciously, and structurally produced “by neglect, forgetfulness, myopia, extinction, secrecy, or suppression.” Little wonder, then, that there is also a lot of ignorance about the persistence of racism as a … Continue reading Producing Ignorance: Racial Knowledge and Immigration in Germany
“We are living in a new age,” President Sukarno proclaimed at the First National Science Congress in 1958, “the age of atomic revolution, of nuclear revolution, explorers and sputnik, of interplanetary communications with the moon and the stars, and the content of the sea.” And the new age, he reasoned, necessitated new roles. If it … Continue reading Indonesianizing Knowledge, or: The Postcolonial Invention of ‘Colonial Science’?
A research fellow position for history of the twentieth century is opening soon at the German Historical Institute in Washington, DC. The application is due electronically on July 31, 2018. Further details...
From a report by Jason Farago on a noteworthy exhibit at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg, Germany:
By and large, “Mobile Worlds” delivers on its contention that European museums need to do much more than just restitute plundered objects in their collections, important as that is. A 21st-century universal museum has to unsettle the very labels that the age of imperialism bequeathed to us: nations and races, East and West, art and craft. It’s not enough just to call for “decolonization,” a recent watchword in European museum studies; the whole fiction of cultural purity has to go, too. Any serious museum can only be a museum of our entangled past and present. The game is to not to tear down the walls, but to narrate those entanglements so that a new, global audience recognizes itself within them.
See the whole piece in the New York Times.
In 1737, the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus bitterly complained about the haphazard naming practices of his contemporaries. “The names bestowed on plants by the ancient Greeks and Romans I commend,” he wrote, “but I shudder at the sight of most of those given by modern authorities: for those are for the most part a mere … Continue reading The Limits of Book Learning
No matter how clear the exposition of the principles may be [in a lecture], no matter how fresh and striking the illustrations, it still remains that the student is relieved by the instructor from carrying on the mental processes which he ought to conduct for himself.
- Call: Power of the Priests: Political use of Religious Knowledge, November 29 to December 1, 2018. Deadline: July 15, 2018
- Call: The Transmission of Financial Knowledge in Historical Perspective, 1840–1940, Washington, March 8–9, 2019. Deadline: August 1, 2018.
- Call: In Global Transit: Forced Migration of Jews and other Refugees (1940s–1960s), May 19–22, 2019. Deadline: August 1, 2018.
Johan Östling's Humboldt and the Modern German University has been translated from Swedish into English. Even better, this Lund University Press publication is OpenAccess and can be downloaded as a PDF.
From the abstract:
By combining approaches from intellectual history, conceptual history and the history of knowledge, the study investigates the ways in which Humboldt’s ideas have been appropriated for various purposes in different historical contexts and epochs. Ultimately, it shows that Humboldt’s ideals are not timeless—they are historical phenomena and have always been determined by the predicaments and issues of the day.