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Forum: History of Knowledge

This issue of the free access GHI Bulletin includes a relevant thematic forum. The section opens with Simone Lässig’s article “The History of Knowledge and the Expansion of the Historical Research Agenda,” in which she surveys the intellectual and disciplinary origins of the history of knowledge and probes its relationship to the rise of global and transnational history. Also represented are Kerstin von der Krone and Anna Echterhölter.

Innovation through Tradition?

From the final third of the eighteenth century, large segments of the Ashkenazi Jewish population, particularly those people living in German-speaking regions, experienced an accelerating process of socio-cultural transformation that impacted all aspects of their lifeworlds. This project explores these multi-layered processes of transformation through the lens of educational media, focusing in particular on the significance of religious and cultural tradition as a point of reference and a space for reflection.

Knowledge and Interwar German-Japanese Relations

In “Knowledge is Power,” a free access article, Ricky Law investigates the role of the interwar German and Japanese mass media in preparing the ground for the Axis by studying the portrayal of Japan in German newspapers, motion pictures, and nonfiction as well as the depiction of Germany in Japanese dailies, lectures and pamphlets, nonfiction, and language textbooks. Law goes beyond cultural history, however, to consider how knowledge was acquired, translated, and disseminated, including the roles played by pundits and voluntary associations.

Legitimizing Science

Science exists in a social, cultural, economic, and political context, apart from which it cannot be adequately understood. This book (preview available) addresses a crucial component of this matrix, the relationship between scientists and the state. Its essays reveal that while nineteenth-century scientists in many countries felt they had to fight for public recognition of their work, the twentieth century witnessed the national endorsement and planning of science.

Understanding Risk

Elisabeth Engel presents her research project in a free access article entitled “Risk and Insurance during the Beginnings of American Independence, 1770–1840.” Analyzing the complex procedures by which insurers and the insured systematized the world around them, she examines a new culture of risk, which characterized and transformed the early American Republic. Part and parcel of this culture was knowledge, including “the insurer’s knowledge of risk calculation and the knowledge the insured needed” so they could “choose and benefit from [the insurers’] policies.” (83)

Why Write a Book?

In this free access article, Pamela Smith explores connections between lived experience and the written word in early modern European books, linking tacit and explicit knowledge in an innovative way.