Until the 1990s, provenance research, or the history of ownership, was mainly conducted to determine the attribution and authenticity of an artwork. Provenance research grew significantly after the Washington Principles of 1998 and the accompanying increased awareness of the issues surrounding Holocaust-era art theft in Europe. Museums are also committed to documenting transfers of ownership of an object to avoid cultural patrimony issues related to questionably exported antiquities and colonial-era acquisitions.
Elaine Leong is speaking tomorrow on “Vernacular Medicine and ‘Agents of Knowledge’ in Late Seventeenth-Century London” as part of the History of Knowledge Seminar Series @ Utrecht University. The event is online, November 24, 2021, 3:30–5:00 pm CET. 🔗 Details
The Volkskundemuseum Wien is holding a conference to think about its photograph collection. “Reimagining One’s Own: Ethnographic Photography in Nineteenth- and Early-Twentieth-Century Europe,” December 1-3, 2021. Hybrid format: Volkskundemusem Vienna and on Zoom. 🔗 Details
In the summer of 1971, an eleven-year-old boy in Gothenburg, Sweden, wrote a letter to the pioneering environmentalist Hans Palmstierna. The boy had recently read a report on the environment in a youth magazine and was shocked. “Is our little Tellus really in such bad shape?,” he asked, adding that it was terrible that there were people who destroyed the environment just to make money. “They should be given a real lesson” for everything they had done to “people newly born.” Now it was his generation, those born in the 1950s and 1960s, that would be forced to “fight against humanity’s possible downfall.”
Humanity has long wished to know the universe. This desire has been present in nearly every civilization, culture, or community of human beings. Knowing the universe has always been extremely challenging, notwithstanding diverse approaches to the task—scientific reasoning, ancestral respect, the identification and worship of divinities, to name but a few. Nevertheless, there is a common gesture when we connect to the universe. No matter in what time or place, humans look up to the stars and wonder. We exhibit a common attitude as well, overwhelmed by how much we do not know about our own universe.
Knowledge is not explicitly referenced in the following four calls, but their cultural and practice-oriented framings certainly lend themselves to proposals informed by the history of knowledge.
- The History of Women, Religion, and Emotions, June 24–26, 2022, in-person, Indiana University Europe Gateway in Berlin, Germany. Proposal deadline: October 15, 2021.
- Die jüdische Familie in der Frühen Neuzeit, February 4–6, 2022, Stuttgart, Germany. Proposal deadline: October 25, 2021.
- HeimatPraktiken: Aneignungsformen und alltägliche Konstruktionen von Heimat in historischer Perspektive, workshop, May 19–20, 2022. Proposal deadline: October 31, 2021.
- Licht (d)es Mittelalter(s), in-person conference, September 2–3, 2022, Hochschule für Musik und Theater and Historisches Institut Rostock. Proposal deadline: October 31, 2021.
The following call, in German, is about memory and narrative, which means it’s also about public history and, implicitly, public knowledge of Germany’s Nazi past: Conference: Gedenkstättengeschichte(n). KZ-Gedenkstätten in postnationalsozialistischen Gesellschaften von 1945 bis heute – Bestandsaufnahme und Perspektiven, February 16–18, 2022, Hamburg. Deadline: September 30, 2021.
“It would be difficult,” the former officer George Gleig wrote in 1825, “to convey to the mind of an ordinary reader anything like a correct notion of the state of feeling which takes possession of a man waiting for the commencement of a battle.” Nonetheless, he tried to do just that. Time, Gleig asserted, “appears to move upon leaden wings”; one experienced a “strange commingling of levity and seriousness within him—a levity which prompts him to laugh, he scarce knows why . . .”1 Departing for service was both “striking” and “harrowing”; peace was “dull” and resulted in “jealousy”; a siege was “galling” and “disagreeable,” producing “absolute hatred” between the besieging and the besieged.2
Louis Agassiz (1807–1873) was a young student at the University of Munich when Johann von Spix and Carl Friedrich von Martius returned from their expedition to Brazil. Among the many items and specimens the German naturalists brought back were fish. The methodology they had followed on their journey through what was then part of the Portuguese Empire was typical of naturalists in the field: They observed, collected, and in some cases classified. Then, back in Europe, they studied the amassed material. Their journey through the exuberant and unfamiliar natural environment had lasted three years (1817–1820). In this geographical and temporal context, the fish and marine species were rarities that few scientists could address with authority within the framework of European natural history. The observant naturalists were nonetheless able to classify species unknown in Europe while also learning about these species’ natural environments.
A little article about this blog that I wrote with Kerstin von der Krone is now open access. See “Blogging Histories of Knowledge in Washington, D.C.,” in “Digital History,” ed. Simone Lässig, special issue, Geschichte und Gesellschaft 47, no. 1 (2021): 163–74. The abstract reads:
The authors reflect on their experiences as the founding editors of the History of Knowledge blog. Situating the project in its specific institutional, geographical, and historiographical contexts, they highlight its role in scholarly communication and research alongside journals and books in a research domain that is still young, especially when viewed from an international perspective. At the same time, the authors discuss the blog’s role as a tool for classifying and structuring a corpus of work as it grows over time and as new themes and connections emerge from the contributions of its many authors.
Conference: What Makes a Philosopher Good or Bad? Intellectual Virtues and Vices in the History of Philosophy. Utrecht University, November 25–26, 2021. Proposal deadline: August 21, 2021.
Conference: Professorial Career Patterns Reloaded – Data, Methods and Analysis of Digital Humanities Research in the Field of Early Modern Academic History. Herzog August Library, Wolfenbüttel, and HTWK Leipzig, October 27–28, 2021 with Pre-Workshop/Hackathon on October 20–21. Proposal deadline: September 3, 2021.