Research Projects

Departments and Groups

Research Projects

Sort Projects by


Jochen Büttner

Christina Brandt , Hans-Joerg Rheinberger

This project centered on the scientific and technological practices in which knowledge of heredity was materially entrenched and in which it unfolded its effects.

Staffan Mueller-Wille

This project centers on the scientific and technological practices in which the knowledge of "heredity" was materially entrenched and in which it unfolded its effects.

James Kennaway

Over the past twenty years neuroscience huge strides have been made in our understanding of how the brain reacts to music, and representations of music’s effects in the humanities increasingly reflect the prestige of neurology.

Carsten Reinhardt

In nineteenth-century society, the sciences gained in importance. Technology and industry, nutrition, public health, and the law are only a few examples of fields that interacted with science.

Britta Lange

During the First World War, the politically allied governments of Germany and Austria encouraged scientific commissions to conduct extensive research in their POW camps.

Yulia Frumer

The use of clocks for timekeeping seems to be a straightforward and almost intuitive routine. Yet glancing at mechanical clocks designed in a culture remote from us in both time and space we witness how modern-day intuitions betray our attempts to understand these time-measuring devices.

Ronny Vollandt

In the framework of the learned textual practice working group I will examine Saadiah’s Tafsīr, an Arabic translation of the Pentateuch of originally Jewish provenance, became a foundational text also of the Coptic Church, whose study and preservation had to be cultivated vigilantly, which text-c

David Sepkoski

A Natural History of Data examines the history of practices and rationalities surrounding data in the natural sciences between 1800 and the present.

Volkmar Schüller

Isaac Newton's unique position in the history of physics rests on his Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy published in 1687 which has overshadowed his other important book, the Opticks. This book was not only of  fundamental importance for the

Jürgen Renn , Jochen Büttner , Robert Casties , Dirk Wintergrün



Lukas M Verburgt

The general aim of this project is to articulate the philosophical conditions of the transition from the non-mathematical definition to the mathematical formalization of 'objective probability' in terms of a development from idealization to abstraction - and this by me

Sabine von Fischer

Graphical representations of acoustic space confront lay and expert publics with images of phenomena that cannot be seen. Transient, time-based, and ephemeral, sound is nothing but particle movements in air, liquids, or solids.

Dagmar Schäfer , Michael Lackner (FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg)

Tackling ideas of uncertainty and not-knowing has produced a variety of ways of modeling and reasoning material and intellectual cultures in Asian cultures throughout history.

Matteo Valleriani

During the 13th century, a new tract on elementary spherical astronomy and cosmology was compiled: The Sphere of Johannes de Sacrobosco.

Roland Wittje

This project investigates the transformation and co-production of soundscapes, technologies, and sound epistemologies on the Indian subcontinent.

Viktoria Tkaczyk

The research project is dedicated to exploring the links between the history of European theatre and acoustics from 1750 to 1930. This period corresponds to the gradual establishment of physical acoustics and its differentiation into numerous subdisciplines.

João Romão

This dissertation project is an interdisciplinary research study on the networks of the first twenty years of the WDR’s Electronic Music Studio in Cologne (1952–1972).

Anne Ziemke

Humans have learned from experience that time is a factor that reveals change. In combination with the conception that an individual’s life is limited, this has lead to the conclusion that organisms undergo a process of alterations during their lifetime, which is called aging.

Helen Curry

Helen Curry's research investigated the history of seed banking as a global conservation practice.

Helen A. Curry

My current research investigates the history of seed banking as a global conservation practice. Through this project, I seek to understand how the genetic diversity of plant species came to be seen as both a critical resource

Jochen Büttner , Giuseppe Castagnetti , Robert Casties , Peter Damerow , Carmen Hammer , Dieter Hoffmann , Horst Kant , Christoph Lehner , Jürgen Renn , Simone Rieger , Matthias Schemmel , Urs Schoepflin , Matteo Valleriani , Milena Wazeck

A new culture of science was at the center of discussions and outreach activities during the Einstein Year 2005, a common initiative of the Federal Government, science, industry, and culture. It celebrated the centenary of Einstein's revolutionary 1905 papers.

Spike Bucklow

This contribution considers the relationship between alchemy and European painting in the late Middle Ages.

Matteo Martelli

What is Graeco-Egyptian alchemy? Which kinds of techniques and craft practices does it encompass? And what were its goals? The paper addresses these questions by investigating the most ancient Greek alchemical texts preserved by both the Byzantine and the Syriac tradition.

The De li aspecti (Codex Vat. Lat. 4595) is an Italian translation of the De aspectibus, which is a Latin translation of Ibn al-Haytam’s Kitab al-Manazir. The De aspectibus of Alhacen, arrived in Europe in the 13th century.

Adam Lawrence

"All Against All: Scientific Prophecies of Food & Fuel Production, 1929-1989" presents a series of case studies in the methods by which social (economists and demographers) and natural (agronomists, geologists, and ecologists) scientists in Germany and America quantified and predicted future

Glenn W. Most

The paper will focus on two scholarly activities that can be interrelated but are not necessarily so: the etymological explanation of the alleged meanings of individual words, and the allegorical explanation of the alleged meanings of individual myths, stories, and cult practices.

Sven Dupre , Sylvie Neven , Marjolijn Bol

During medieval and pre-modern times, alum was used for a variety of purposes in artistic and craft contexts. Alum was one of the most important chemical compounds involved in the dyeing of textiles and the manufacture of organic lakes, used in painting and illuminating techniques.

Gianna Pomata

The notable presence of independent scholars among women historians of the first half of the twentieth century is a phenomenon to be found in Anglophone, French, German and Italian historiography alike.

Dominique Raynaud

This chapter is an exploration of the optical sources used by Leonardo da Vinci in his research on shadows. As most sources of the Renaissance were available in Arabic and Latin, the focus is mainly on translation and knowledge transmission.

Dominique Raynaud

This chapter is an exploration of the optical sources used by Leonardo da Vinci in his research on shadows. As most sources of the Renaissance were available in Arabic and Latin, the focus is mainly on translation and knowledge transmission.

Kirsten Leng

Beginning in the 1880s, inspired in particular by feminists’ challenges to the state regulation of prostitution, female sexuality became the subject of widespread scientific, social, and political interest as part of the broader “Woman Question.” Reflecting the influence of Darwinian evolution an

Philippe Mongin

The expression ‘analytic narratives’ refers to a small group of studies that have developed at the intersection of history, political science and economics.

Lisa Onaga

This project examines how endeavors in Japan to produce and export mass quantities of raw silk generated new biological knowledge about the domesticated silkworm.

Alisha Rankin (Tufts University)

This essay calls attention to two different kinds of drug tests in sixteenth-century Europe: the use of a medicine on a person who was already ill, which I am calling an anecdote, and the testing of the antidote on a healthy subject whose bodily state has been changed artificially, which I am cal

Erika Milam

Natural and social scientists have long been fascinated by the biological basis of human behavior. By anthropomorphizing animal behavior, biologists frame animal actions as simplified versions (evolutionary antecedents) of human behavior.

Jonathan Harwood

After 1945, Western foundations and governments devoted considerable resources to promoting agricultural development in Latin America and Asia through the introduction of new technology, now generally referred to as "The Green Revolution" (GR). These programmes succeeded in boosting grain product

Emily Brock

Science and the state both have roles in creating and controlling environmental change.

Chihyung Jeon

What does it take to create an archive of human forms and their interactions with machinery? How does the human body come into being as an engineering object through this archiving practice?

Judith Friedman

The history of the concept of anticipation in hereditary disease, the notion that certain hereditary illnesses strike earlier and often more harshly in succeeding generations, reveals that acceptable approaches to heredity varied widely over time and place during the first half of the 20th centur

Jean-Marc Besse

In the history of cartography, the object “atlas” has always encountered difficulty in being accepted as a genuine scientific form.

Christoph Hoffmann

The project examines the conceptualization of the human senses in observational practices from 1750 to 1830.

Jürgen Renn

Department I has co-organized the exhibition "Archimedes. Art and Invention Science". The exhibition in the prestigious venue of the Capitoline Museums presents the great man from Syracuse to the wider public,

Peter Damerow , Peter McLaughlin , Jürgen Renn , Urs Schoepflin ,

The Archimedes Project creates a testbed for developing and exploring model interactive environments for the history of mechanics. It also serves as a proof-of-concept project for open digital libraries for topics in the history of science designed to integrate research and

Wolfgang Lefèvre

In my contribution to this workshop on the structure of practical knowledge, I try to outline the structure of architectural knowledge in the long 16th century. The paper is divided into three parts.

Aurelia Campbell

My project for the Local Gazetteers workshop (August 2016) is to collect information on and map using GIS the sources of the nan-wood timbers used for the construction of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) palaces in Beijing.

Mona Friedrich

In this research project, Mona Friedrich studied the rise of organized record-keeping from roughly 1450 to 1789. It was only during this period that archives gained prominence in Western Civilization.

Carolyn Birdsall

In 1930, journalist Hans Tasiemka reported the pioneering introduction of sound recording and archiving at the Berlin Funk-Stunde station, on the initiative of its director Hans Flesch.

Florence Hsia

Coordinated on a global scale, collective observation of the Mercury transit of 1753 and the Venus transits of 1761 and 1769 exemplify Enlightenment confidence in a spatially and socially extended "big science," one capable, in principle, of transcending difference at many levels: national and co

Andrew Yang

Within a thousandths of fraction of the earth’s deep history we have begun to fundamentally alter the composition of the planet to the degree that any vestige of the non-human “natural” is now fugitive in all but the most nanoscopic and axiomatic of the sciences.

Joshua Berson

Over the past 120 years, language has become subject to archiving.

Jean-Baptiste Gouyon

During my stay at the Max Planck Institute I will be investigating ARKive, an Internet database of images and recordings of animals, the associated claims to knowledge and how they appear to be supported (

Jürgen Renn , Helge Wendt , Sonja Brentjes , Matteo Valleriani , Joyce van Leeuwen


Sven Dupre , Steve Wharton , Anke Timmermann , Thijs Weststeijn

Giorgio Vasari in the mid-sixteenth century and later Karel van Mander in his Schilder-boeck (1604), portrayed Van Eyck as “a man who delighted in alchemy” whose experiments allegedly led to the invention of oil paint.

Sven Dupre

Sven Dupré, Research Group Director to the MPRG Art and Knowledge in Pre-Modern Europe, was appointed Professor and Chair of History of Art, Science and Technology at Utrecht University as of September 2015, and the Research Group ended.

Sven Dupre , Sean Nelson

This project investigates one of the most splendid collections in early seventeenth-century Antwerp, that of the Portuguese merchant-banker Emmanuel Ximenez, a neighbor and contemporary of Peter Paul Rubens.

Marlise Rijks

As part of the project ‘Artists’ collections in the Early Modern Netherlands’ I am carrying out a PhD project on ‘Art, Optics and Practical Mathematics’, facilitated by FWO Flanders.

Dagmar Schäfer

Department III studies the history of knowledge and action.

Zoe Svendsen

After food and shelter, clothing is probably the essential feature of human civilization, creating and representing economic, state, and societal identities.

Marlise Rijks

While Early Modern Netherlandish painters were often avid collectors, up until now systematic research on artists' collecting is missing. Which networks did they use while collecting? What did they collect? Did their collections differ from other collections?

Sven Dupre , Klaus E. Werner ,


Kathrin Müller

Throughout the Latin Middle Ages, knowledge in the fields of astronomy and cosmology was based on texts and images, namely diagrams.

Annette Vogt

The project investigates the conditions faced by female academics at the University of Berlin from its reopening in 1946 until 1961. It asks whether the situation for women academics improved after the deep setbacks during the Nazi regime.

Christine von Oertzen

This book project illustrates how members of the Association of Collegiate Alumnae (ACA), most prominent among them Milicent Shinn, a graduate of the University of California, engaged in the study of early childhood development.

Karin Zachmann

As a title for my project, “Atomic Food for Peace” is my invention. As a concept, however, it clearly existed in the mid-1950s.

Axel Volmar

This project aimed to critically reflect and historicize data practices in relation to sensory practices within the history of science.

Reinhart Meyer-Kalkus

The role of media—and especially of the phonograph and gramophone—in storing and disseminating literary recitation and reading aloud from 1889 onward may have been revolutionary from a technical point of view, but it is marginal when considered in the broader context of literary life during the p

Margarete Vöhringer

In post-revolutionary Russia, life has become an experiment.


Tamar Novick

This project focuses on the use of bodily waste, and more specifically urine, as the basis for producing fertile bodies in Palestine/Israel.

Ian Lawson

My new project investigates the fashion for microscopes, and other optical instruments, in the eighteenth century - after their initial popularity among natural philosophers.

Fernando Vidal , Francisco Javier Guerrero Ortega

In the context of the collaborative project “The Cerebral Subject: Brain and Self in Contemporary Culture” (see links below), I am, together with Francisco Ortega from the State University of Rio de Janeiro, writing a book entitled Being Brains.

Robert Casties , Jürgen Renn , Simone Rieger , Urs Schoepflin

In 2010/11, five major scientific institutions of Berlin will celebrate their centenaries: the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, the Humboldt University of Berlin, the Charité Berlin, and the Max Planck Society (foundation of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society 100 ye

Jochen Büttner , Anette Schomberg, Dirk Rohmann

Id autem ex trutinis, quae staterae dicuntur, licet considerare.

Pollio Vitruvius, ca. 20 v. Chr.

Jochen Büttner

In the course of this project, the development of the unequal-armed balance will be examined as a case study of an innovation process.

Ursula Klein

This project studies the relationships between eighteenth-century and early nineteenth-century experimentation, natural history and artisanal practices from a historical, philosophical and sociological perspective. The novelty of the project

Lorraine Daston , Fernando Vidal


Jürgen Renn , Matthias Schemmel

This research activity concerns the transformation of the Newtonian concept of space in the relativity and quantum revolutions of the early 20th century.

Judith Kaplan

In 2001, an international and interdisciplinary team of researchers joined forces to establish the Evolution of Human Languages (EHL) project at the Santa Fe Institute.

Annik Pietsch

A painted image is perceived as a combination of forms, colors and materials. But it is also a three-dimensional object made of different layers of colouring matter and binding media on a support. On this material body, artistic perception, knowledge and theory are inscribed.

Zoe Nyssa

Conservation biology is an unusual science in that it was founded on explicitly ethical objectives. Global biodiversity is considered to be a good in its own right and the study and protection of biodiversity itself a scientific and moral imperative.

Stefan Bargheer

This project investigated the changing valuation of complexity in nature and culture in Germany and the United States throughout the twentieth century.

Martina Schluender

Beginning in the mid-eighteenth century, labour in Western medicine was understood as a mechanical procedure consisting of a regular sequence of seven fetal movements. At the beginning of the twentieth century the sequence was well known but the reasons for it were not yet understood.

Jenny Bangham

This project offers a new postwar history of human genetics, by examining how, in mid-twentieth century Britain, blood groups were made into objects for investigations into human heredity and diversity.

Christina Benninghaus

Starting in the last decade of the nineteenth century, paper models of the human body became a common consumer object affordable even to better-off working-class families. Books like F. E.

Ann-Sophie Lehmann

Samuel van Hoogstraten’s painting Old Man at the Window (1653, Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien) recapitulates the impact of the Eyckian turn in Netherlandish painting, which laid the foundations for the detailed and realistic depiction of the visual world.

M. Norton Wise

Laboratory science, in the modern sense of laboratory teaching and research carried on at universities, only came into existence in the first half of the 19th century. The development occurred in all European countries but with quite different historical trajectories.

Rand B. Evans

The term “brass instrument psychology,” a common term used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to describe laboratory psychology, shows the centrality of scientific instruments in the origin and development of experimental psychology.

Elaine Leong

In the autumn of 1651, Colonel Edward Harley stayed with Sir John Tracey in Norfolk. There, the two men drank to the health of Harley’s uncle Edward Conway, second Viscount Conway now ruralized at Petworth House, the seat of the Percy family.

Joel Klein

In my dissertation, Bringing Chymistry into Shape: The Ideas, Intellectual Context, and Influence of Daniel Sennert (1572-1637), I explore the history of chymistry* and medicine in the early modern German university.

Charlotte Bigg

In the years around 1900 scientific research became increasingly concerned with sub-microscopic entities, including atoms, molecules, ions, bacteria and all sorts of minute organisms.

Wenhua Luo

This project compares the codified cost estimates for Buddhist art objects such as statues and painting from three different dynasties: the Mongol Yuan, the Han-Chinese Ming, and the Manchu Qing.

Hallie Lieberman

The research project "Buzz: A Stimulating History of Sex Toys" seeks to understand why our attitudes towards sex toys have shifted over the past half century and how sex toys went from being social napalm to being sold openly in your friendly neighborhood drug store.


Doris Oltrogge

Pigments form the material color for painting. Their use involves various practices and types of expertise, whether from miners, pigment makers or painters themselves.

Nadia Sera Baadj

In recent years, a vast amount of scholarship has been devoted to early modern collections and particularly to the so-called ‘cabinet of curiosity’, defined as a space designated for storing and contemplating artworks, various handcrafted objects, scientific instruments, exotica, and natural spec

Abigail Lustig

Evolutionary biology is currently enjoying a period of high public prestige.

Charles-Edouard Niveleau

My work aims to rediscover the historical (although forgotten) roots of the phenomenological movement which  appeared through a confrontation with natural sciences and the emerging scientific psychology during the 19th century in Germany.

Michael Ohl

Species catalogs—printed or digital—are a specific form of encyclopedias and compendia. They are designed for different purposes, and "are among the most useful aids to the taxonomist" (Mayr et al., 1953) and, as Michael Ohl argues, for many other disciplines as well.

S. Pearl Brilmyer

Literary historians have long aligned the emergence of the English novel with the rise of individualism in Europe. As scholars argue, with its focus on the action of a self-making protagonist, the 19th-century novel validated liberal theories of the subject as a self-sovereign agent.

Michael Stanley-Baker

Many histories of Chinese medicine assert that the compilation of the classical corpus (circa 100 BCE–200 CE) resulted in the formation of a rational, correlative system of thought and constituted a radical departure from religious practice.

Ursula Klein

From the late 1820s onward, chemical formulas (such as H2O for water), introduced by Jacob Berzelius in 1813 as a shorthand for representing the composition of inorganic compounds according to the theory of proportions, became enormously productive paper tools for

Alan R. Williams

The suit of plate armour appeared (uniquely) in Europe in the 14th century and remained in use for war and sport for three centuries. Armourers were not simply unlettered village craftsmen but systematic practitioners of applied chemistry.

Andrea Bernardoni

During the Renaissance the field of the chemical arts was characterised by the complex identity of its protagonists, who would hardly recognize themselves in the traditional socio-cultural and professional categories.

Thijs Weststeijn

The European fascination with Chinese porcelain began when the first cargo reached Middelburg in 1602. Within four decades, the Dutch had imported over three million pieces. Artisans and artists were the first to explore the epistemological dimension of this exchange.

Feng Jiren

In China master craftsmen and imperial architects as well as scholars summarized practical knowledge of building in manuals and presented them to specific audiences.

Henning Schmidgen

This project deals with the emergence and development of reaction-time experiments in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The reaction-time experiment has key importance for the history of psychology and the cognitive neurosciences.

Anna Laqua

This project addresses forms of communication related to espionage under Oliver Cromwell and Charles II. As part of the CRC subproject “Epistemic Dissonances,” my research shows how practices and technologies of acoustic secrecy prompted a recontextualization of theory formation in this period.

Steve Wharton

My project focuses on the visuality of sixteenth-century pottery, particularly istoriato-ware, and will be examining evidence of the technological development and subsequent consistency through which its demand was achieved and secured.

Christoph Rosol

In this PhD thesis Christoph Rosol investigates several historical moments and epistemological facets in the genealogy of so-called General Circulation Models (GCM).

Joppe van Driel

My research focuses on the history of oeconomic chemistry and recycling in Western Europe, 17001830. The term "oeconomy" loosely referred to the principles of prudent and frugal resource management.

Nelia Dias

The term "circulation" was widely used in French urban planning from the 1850s onwards to designate the flow of people, goods, information, traffic, communication, water, heat, light, waste, and air.

Gabriella Szalay

Paper trials were a European-wide phenomenon in the eighteenth century. Born of the experimental culture that informed the “new sciences,” paper trials were conducted by and for the men of learning that occupied the closely guarded confines of contemporary scientific societies.

Ludmila Hyman

In the 1920-1930s, Soviet psychologists developed an original research program, which they themselves characterized as „cultural-historical“ psychology—an approach that examined individual cognition in its socio-cultural context. Central to this development was the work of L.S. Vygotsky, A.R.

Barbara Hahn

This book-length treatment of the British Industrial Revolution in textile production in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries makes use of basic methods and current theories and approaches in the history of technology in order to argue that invention is not a very useful concept for

Viola van Beek

Experiments as a scientific method and epistemological activity provided the basis for a variety of scientific disciplines in Germany around 1900; at the same time they were incorporated into the cultural and literary sphere.

Members of Department III collectively develop bonds with other research groups and institutions

Christoph Rosol , Jürgen Renn

On the novel topics of the Anthropocene and the Technosphere, Department I, in collaboration with the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW, Berlin), is fostering innovati

Surekha Davies

European identity is inextricable from Europe’s views about other peoples. During the early modern period, overseas artifacts entered princely and scholarly collections, to be displayed alongside natural and artificial curiosities from classical cameos to blowfish.

Elaine Leong

When Mary Cholmeley married Henry Fairfax in 1627, nestled amongst the possessions she carried to her new home in Yorkshire was a leather-bound notebook filled with medical recipes.

Lorraine Daston


In the newly emerging discipline of psychology of the middle of the 19th century individuals occupied centre stage.

Kavita Philip , Anindita Nag , Martina Schluender , Emily Brownell , Sarah Blacker , Sarah Van Beurden

This research project seeks to bring scholars into informal dialogue with the members of the Scale and Scope group and the History of Planning project.

Tawrin Baker

Robert Boyle’s 1664 Experiments and Considerations Touching Colours is full of experiments and observations that “enquire seriously into the Nature of Colours, and assist in the Investigation of it.” Boyle was not interested in positing a comple

Theresa M. Kelley

Color was long excluded from the “characters” or “differentiae” used to describe species and thus to distinguish species from each other.

Karin Leonhard

This project concentrates on Baroque color theory and practice in the histories of art and science. It is based upon a cross-border cooperation between the disciplines of art history, the histories of science and philosophy, and museum restoration work.

Sven Dupre

"For the causes and essences of color are as disputed, and obscure to the intellect, as they are themselves manifest to sight."
(Julius Caesar Scaliger, Exotericarum Exercitationum, 325.)

Cecilia Cárdenas-Navia

This project examines the rise of dermatology in the United States against the backdrop of the long civil rights movement.  As growing sociopolitical unrest converged with mounting incidences of

Tawrin Baker

Questions surrounding the origin of color, its relationship to light and illumination, and how color affected the eye were vigorously debated within the many Aristotelianisms at the end of the Renaissance.

Allison Ksiazkiewicz

According to followers of René Haüy (1743–1822), minerals were classified according to basic crystallized shapes, and for mineralogical geologists the structure of the earth was understood through the interpretation of these basic elements.  Mineralogists and geologists appropriated different for

Jürgen Renn , Dirk Wintergrün

The Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin (MPIWG) and the Comenius Garden Berlin have been working together since 2003.

Jennifer Spinks

This project took as a starting point the well-known comet of 1556, often called the Charles V comet after Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, who abdicated in the same year.

Katja Krause

All human knowing is grounded in sense experience. This may sound trivial to us, not least because it appears to be an undisputed principle of our natural sciences today.

Carmine Grimaldi

My current research focuses on the physiology of vision in the early nineteenth century, and in particular the investigation of subjective visual phenomena.

John DiMoia

This project tracks the shifting concept of “population” as an element of record-keeping within East Asia, especially in the Korean context, where it went through several transformations that seem to acknowledge the impossibility of rectifying the various schemes that had been enforced in success

Dagmar Schäfer , Grace Yen Shen , Rui Magone , Bruce Rusk , Falk-Juri Knauft , Juan HE , Andrea Bréard , , Cathleen Paethe , Hilde de Weerdt , Andreas Janousch , Yunli SHI , Angelika Messner , Susan Naquin , Marta Hanson , Guoqing Yang


Jürgen Renn , Olaf Engler

In addition to the main research lines focusing on the long-term development and the global dissemination of knowledge, concepts and methods of a historico-developmental theory of knowledge are being designed and explored.

Hanna Hoelling

By venturing into the epistemic dimensions of conservation, my project has been conceived to instigate a novel form of reflection on the field.

George Farhat

This essay looks at the topographic construction of optical schemes informed by perspectival principles in early modern French gardens and parks. The notion of construction does not relate here to drawing lines in a picture plane, but to spatial and physical implementation.

Georges Farhat

This essay looks at the topographic construction of optical schemes informed by perspectival principles in early modern French gardens and parks.

Fuxiang Guo

Archive materials from the Construction Department of the Imperial Household Department (内务府造办处)

Sally Shuttleworth

When Darwin was developing his theories of evolution he read avidly in popular natural history magazines and sought out information from an army of almost 2000 correspondents.

Perrin Selcer

In Constructing Spaceship Earth, Perrin Selcer explores how and why scientists affiliated with UN agencies made the global-scale environment a social and political reality. The post-WWII generation of international experts identified science as both the cause of and solution to world crises.

Omar Nasim

The project focuses on various drawings of nebulae made by English astronomers and artists between 1830 and 1865.

Suparna Choudhury

The goal of this project is to develop meaningful interactions between history of science, anthropology and cognitive neuroscience.

Debolina Dey

Debolinas project, Contagion in the Cultural Imagination of Victorian England

Kirsten Leng

At the turn of the twentieth century, sex, its regulation, and its role in underwriting social order, were politicized as never before.

Thomas Dohmen

Within traditional epistemology, skeptical scenarios challenge the idea that knowledge can be gained. These scenarios demand a level of justification – which has to be delivered in order to call something ‘knowledge’ – that is impossible to reach.

Jürgen Renn , Pietro Daniel Omodeo

For about 400 years, Johannes Sacrobosco’s Tractatus de sphaera was one of the most important texts of the European astronomical culture.

Jürgen Renn

This project deals with the presence, meaning and influence of Latinized Arabic works in the mathematical astronomy of the European Renaissance.

Members of Department 3 develop individual scholarship and research by coming together to cross-pollinate and strengthen our individual projects:

Annette Mülberger

Scientists spend most of their time doing research. But sometimes they stop and reflect on their discipline. In talks, textbooks or general introductions scientists present their own field of expertise to students and the lay public.

Jürgen Renn , Sonja Brentjes , Helge Wendt , Matteo Valleriani , Monica Colominas Aparicio , Elena Serrano

History of science, medicine and technology struggles since a long time about how to organize itself in a manner that it can do justice to the manifold forms of organized, systematic knowledge that different human cultures produced in the past as well as today.

Carmen Loza

The quipu is a controversial, symbolic, and mysterious object of knowledge sustained by the old Andean cultures. Over the centuries, people codified knowledge in knotted colored cords made out of diverse kinds of animal and plant fibers. The quipu was used

Christina Wessely

At the end of the nineteenth century, Werner Siemens proclaimed the beginning of the scientific age in Germany.

Elena Serrano

In 1799, a peculiar female society replaced the former male committee of the Madrid Foundling House and took total control of its management. The Junta de Damas de Honor y Mérito (Ladies of Honor and Merit Committee) construed its practices as womanly and enlightened.

Nadia Sera Baadj

This project examines the relationship between craft, curiosity, and the pursuit of natural knowledge in Antwerp during the second half of the seventeenth century.

Stewart Allen

This project centers on an ethnography of a stonemasonry workshop attached to St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland. St Mary's is a nineteenth-century, neo-gothic cathedral, and one of the largest in Scotland.

Marjolijn Bol

This project investigates how the characteristic Northern fascination with splendor, created not only a fertile ground for crafts that in many ways afford luster and shine through polishing, faceting, forging and imitating refractive and reflective materials, but that the love for these materials

Henrike Haug

One of the main metallurgical research interests of the Early Modern Ages was to discover how metals and minerals were formed.

Sally Gregory Kohlstedt

Educational opportunities for women in the second half of the nineteenth century expanded their aspirations even as changing professional developments conspired to maintain men in authority.

Thomas Sturm

This is a joint project with John Carson (Michigan), Uljana Feest (Berlin), Ludmila Hyman (Berlin), and Annette Mülberger (Barcelona). See also the MPIWG workshop Crisis? What Crisis?

Francesca Bray

During the colonial period, Westerners deliberately planned the introduction of valuable Asian crops such as rice, tea, or cotton to territories under their own control.

Naomi Beck

Nobel laureate Friedrich August von Hayek was undoubtedly one of the most consequential thinkers in the twentieth century. He influenced leading economists such as Milton Friedman, as well as policy makers such as Margaret Thatcher, and his defence of the free-market continues to draw appeal.

Dagmar Schäfer , Martina Siebert , Martin Hofmann

Chinese elite writings provide evidence of concepts of technology. They reflect upon changes and these reflections in turn influence the culture of knowledge. This defines the intellectual setting for technical invention and innovation in premodern China.

Anke te Heesen

Cut and paste is a technique that still exists today. Its outstanding history started in the printing age and reached a highpoint towards the end of the nineteenth century that marks the center of my current book project on newspaper clippings in art and science.


Clare Griffin

In 1645, the dying Tsar Mikhail Romanov was examined by his German doctors, and prescribed, via Latin instructions, Chinese rhubarb, Alexandrine Senna, local Juniper berries, unicorn horn, and American sassafras, a treatment recorded in exacting detail by Russian bureaucrats in Russian.

In 1645, the dying Tsar Mikhail Romanov was examined by his German doctors, and prescribed, via Latin instructions, Chinese rhubarb, Alexandrine Senna, local Juniper berries, unicorn horn, and American sassafras, a treatment recorded in exacting detail by Russian bureaucrats in Russian.

Paul Stuart White

The aim of this project is to examine the methods and techniques that were developed by Darwin to turn feelings from widely different domains into objects of study, including observational diaries, marginalia, graphic instruments, photography, and questionnaires.

Julia Voss

The project investigates into the visual world surrounding evolutionary theory in the 19th Century.

Mirjam Brusius

Things—for example specimens, artifacts, trophies, instruments, commodities, religious or literary texts—all travel. They do so by transferring ideas and facts, physically and epistemically.

Hallam Stevens

Biology has been dealing with the problems of "big data" for several decades. Even before the Human Genome Project began, biologists struggled to cope with rapidly accumulating protein and DNA sequence data.

Andrea Bréard

During the late Qing political and educational reforms (end of the ninteenth to the early twentieth century) traditional approaches to the collection, use, and preservation of numerical data in archives were particularly challenged.

W. Patrick McCray

Starting in the 1960s, astronomers’ view of the sky shifted from an analog perspective in which data was recorded using photographic plates and analog strip charts to one wholly mediated by digital technologies.

Philipp Nicolas Lehmann

"Data That Travel: Climates Between Africa and Europe" examines the conditions of climatological data collection efforts in colonial Africa and the processes of selection and translation that occurred between the sites of recording and publication.

Rebecca Lemov

This project (published 2015 by Yale University Press) tells the story of a vast yet almost entirely forgotten social scientific archive.

Etienne Benson

To generate a massive archive of data, one must often first convince a large number of scientists that they have more to gain by sharing their data than by retaining proprietary control over it.

Daryn Lehoux

explores the complex interrelationships between the objects of scientific inquiry, and the norms, processes, and structures of that inquiry itself. This includes not only the tools and methods of investigation, but also the cultural, intellectual and religious contexts of that investigation.

Elizabeth E. Yale

I propose to consider the posthumous handling of the papers of seventeenth-century British naturalists and medical practitioners. When a naturalist died, contemporaries expected that writing would be extracted from their papers (with more or less editing) for publication.

Peter Damerow , Malcolm Hyman , Jürgen Renn , Simone Rieger , Matthias Schemmel , Urs Schoepflin

China‘ s long and continuous tradition gives the exceptional opportunity to study long-term developments of knowledge in a context different from that of European science. For this reason, research on Chinese science opens up possibilities for cross-cultural studies in

Mårten Söderblom Saarela

This is a project on phonology, the study of the sounds of human language, in China in the period 1500–1900. The ultimate aim of this research is to question the idea that the study of language in imperial China equaled philology and classicism, by drawing attention to phonology among the rich co

Oliver Gaycken

This book explores cinema’s early involvement with popular science, a field of texts and media that produced scientific knowledge for a lay audience and that flourished in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Jochen Büttner

The Years of the Cupola represents a digital edition of the surviving administrative documentation in the historic archive of the Opera of Santa Maria del Fiore for the period 1417–36.

Jochen Büttner

The Years of the Cupola represents a digital edition of the surviving administrative documentation in the historic archive of the Opera of Santa Maria del Fiore for the period 1417–36.

For us, digital humanities is not a set of predefined software tools but the process of humanists discovering the possibilities of computers, absorbing the fundamental concepts in computer science, and then incorporating those ideas into their own research methodology in this digital a

Shih-Pei Chen , Qun Che

Digital technologies have changed historians' methods of reading and writing. Inherent in the structure of Department III is a recognition that digital technologies have the ability to change the scope and approach of research.

Francesca Fiaschetti

Not all the campaigns of Qubilai were fought on the battlefield: in the Yuan relations with Southeast Asia, the game of diplomacy also played an important role.

Anna Kvičalová

This PhD project investigates new modes of listening ("attentive listening"), speaking ("plain" and "sincere speech") and remembering ("word memory") as they appear in mid sixteenth-century Geneva in the context of religious Reformation.

Friedrich Steinle (Bergische Universität Wuppertal); Jutta Schickore (Indiana University, Bloomington)

Originally, the distinction between the contexts of discovery and justification was introduced to mark the difference between empirical studies of scientific research and the assessment of knowledge claims.

Sally Shuttleworth

In our current ‘Information Age’ we suffer as never before, it is claimed, from the stresses of an overload of information, and the speed of global networks. The Victorians diagnosed similar problems in the nineteenth century.

Paul Buell

Distilling is thousands of years old but was originally confined to just a few areas, where it was probably independently invented. Later the technology spread and local traditions interacted.

Sven Dupre

Art history textbooks state that the first mathematically exact procedure used to construct perspective was invented by Filippo Brunelleschi in Florence around 1420; that this procedure was known as costruzione legittima and that Leon Battista Alberti, the first to write down a  perspectiv

Anindita Nag

The visual documentation of famine in nineteenth-century India provides a frame for understanding how modalities of classification, institutional practices, and visual technologies organizes forms of knowledge and colonial governance in the treatment of a specific problem: hunger and famine.

Sven Dupre

An important aspect of structuring practical knowledge is the codification of error. Rather than writing down how to proceed, authors write down what not to do. Writing down how to do something right, is probably as old as mankind’s writing abilities.

Elena Aronova

The International Geophysical Year (IGY, 1957–58) was the largest scientific international venture in the twentieth century.

Jan Altmann

Jan Altmann aims to explore the functions and effects of drawing as a technique and mode of scientific observation. Even seeing is not a passive process but a mediating activity. In a paradoxical simultaneity the eye generates what it perceives.

Cecelia Watson

My current project explores the influence of the painter John La Farge on William James’s psychology and philosophy.

Daniel Jaquet

Delivering a sword blow, riding a horse or dancing are bodily techniques (Mauss 1935) that were put in words and images in a heterogeneous corpus of non-fictional literature during the late Medieval and Early modern periods.

Claire Gantet

In the early modern times, the dream, which was defined as a product of the imagination during the nightly sleep, as the soul stayed wide awake although the body rested, cut off from the external senses, aroused a large debate in the Holy Roman Empire which laid opened to external influences (par

Andreas Mayer

This project analyzed the rise of the scientific study of dreams in the nineteenth and twentieth century.

Mary Baine Campbell

The history of theorizing about the meaning of dreams is an ancient one, and many of its problematics remain the same as they were for Aristotle in his treatises on Sleeping and Waking or Divination of Dreams, especially the issue of whether dreaming is primarily a biological or a spiritual pheno

Albert Schirrmeister

This study deals with scientific, scholarly and philosophical opinions about dreaming and the uses of dreams. I want to lead my research with an historical anthropological questionnaire. The centres of attention are therefore the actors and their samples of acting and perceiving.

Bu Yun Chen

Celebrated as a traditional Okinawan craft, bingata (vermilion patterns) refers to a technique of printing colorful and intricate patterns on fabric that originated in the Ryūkyū Kingdom (1429–1879), the center of a vibrant web of tributary and trading networks linking China, Japan, Sout

Ilana Löwy

Monstrous births and inborn handicaps were known from the antiquity onwards, but dysmorphology—the study of inborn anomalies—came into being in the twentieth century.

Bruno J. Strasser

The current era of "big data" and "data-driven science" is a result, not only of technological innovations, but also of a number of deep epistemological, social, cultural, and political transformation.


Julia Kursell

The project investigates the relation of psycho-physiological research and musicological theory. It considers music as an experimental setup in its own right, tracing the changes in the aesthetics of music brought forth by physiological research.

B. Harun Küçük

A persistent theme in European scholarship is how Enlightenment thinkers approached Islam, but no one has yet asked whether and how Muslims engaged with Enlightenment thought.  In my dissertation, “Early Enlightenment in Istanbul,” I showed that under the reign of Ahmed III (1703–1730) Ottoman na

Sven Dupre , Marjolijn Bol , Tina Asmussen , Sylvie Neven

This project investigates why and how artist’s materials and techniques became an object of study for chymists, natural historians, physicians, mathematicians and natural philosophers in the early modern period.

Wolfgang Lefèvre

In the figure of the early modern engineer, one meets the epitome of the productive relationship between practical and theoretical mechanics that gave eventually birth to classical mechanics. Engineering drawings of this period provide the probably most promising access to practice

John Christie

We often assume that early modern historical consciousness concerning natural knowledge may be conveniently summarised by the critical attitudes conventionally associated with the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment---the inheritance of the

John Christie

We often assume that early modern historical consciousness concerning natural knowledge may be conveniently summarised by the critical attitudes conventionally associated with the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment---the inheritance of the past, with honourable Classical exceptions such

Elaine Leong , Rebecca Laroche, Jennifer Munroe, Hillary Nunn, Lisa Smith and Amy Tigner

Early modern English householders were bombarded with health-related information. Contemporary booksellers’ shelves were crammed full of medical textbooks, pharmacopoeias, herbals, surgical handbooks, expositions on new medical theories, regimen guides and more.

Elaheh Kheirandish

This chapter extends the themes of ‘cultures of optical knowledge’ and ‘perspective practices’ to pre-Renaissance contexts, and conducts a microscopic study of early optics and perspective through a combination of written sources, primarily

Elaheh Kheirandish

This chapter extends the themes of ‘cultures of optical knowledge’ and ‘perspective practices’ to pre-Renaissance contexts, and conducts a microscopic study of early optics and perspective through a combination of written sources, primarily in Arabic and Persian.

Harriet Ritvo

The analogy between artificial selection and natural selection forms a powerful rhetorical component of Darwin's argument in On the Origin of Species.  But the analogy, which compares the evolution of wild animals to that of their domesticated relatives is far from complete.

Peter Konečný

The research project focuses on the development of a new type of scientifically educated functional elites.

Milena Wazeck

The dissertation project deals with the opposition to the theory of relativity in the broader public in the 1920s. It focuses on popular concepts of science and nature on which the critique of relativity is based and investigates on both an epistemological  and a social

Roland Wittje

This project investigates the sonic dimensions of physical laboratories at the juncture of acoustical and electrical research around the turn of the twentieth century.

Annapurna Mamidipudi

Craft producers in India stand in the shadow of deep divisions: rich/poor, urban/rural, modern/traditional, Brahmin/Dalit, educated scientist/illiterate laborer, and so on. Many of these oppositions are underpinned by deep social inequality.

Lambert Williams

The years 1960 to 2000 witnessed the emergence and diffusion of the ‘new sciences’ of chaos and complexity.

James Delbourgo

This project explored the pivotal yet overlooked career of Sir Hans Sloane (1660—1753), in particular his voyage to Jamaica in 1687, its eighteenth-century aftermaths and, more broadly, the relationship between collecting, natural history, and colonialism.

Kevin Donovan

My research studies the ambiguities and tensions that emerge as sovereign states integrate economically and politically with their neighbors.

Robyn Smith

Despite the practical knowledge throughout the 19th century that citrus fruit prevented and cured scurvy, and that rickets and beriberi were diseases caused by poor diet, it was not until 1906 that animal feeding experiments led investigators to propose the existence of ‘accessory food factors’,

Sabine Arnaud , Debolina Dey , Sean Dyde , Lara Keuck , Anne Harrington, Sean Quinlan

One crucial question in tracing the history of normalcy is: How does a term come to be established as a category and used to designate something as abnormal?

Mary Terrall

In 1750 Michel Adanson, a young French naturalist attached to the Compagnie des Indes at its outpost in Senegal, sent several small swatches of cotton fabric to Paris.

Aaron Moore

My project examines the history of Japan's overseas development system in Asia from its origins in Japan's colonial rule over much of Asia before 1945 to its rise to become the world's leading aid donor by the end of the Cold War in 1989.

Bertrand Guillaume

This project situates large-scale engineering projects to "terraform the Earth" in the last 200 years in context, in order to better understand the specificity of such high-scope engineering plans with regard to the history and philosophy of lower-scale land planning technology.

Pamela Long

This research investigates  projects of engineering and urban redesign in late sixteenth century Rome – flood control (of the Tiber River), aqueduct construction and repair, the construction of conduits and sewers, the repair of

Max Stadler

This new project, a history of the senses in the 20th century, is tentatively titled “Enhancing the Human: Sensory enhancement and the materiality of the senses, 1910-1970.”

B. Harun Küçük

This project explores the entangled history of naturalism and cosmopolitanism in Ottoman Istanbul. I investigate the interface between artisanal and scholastic ways of knowing during a transformative period in Ottoman history.

Elodie Giroux

One of the main sources of contemporary issues around the definitions of health and disease is the importance of the “risk approach” to disease and of the notion of “risk factor” in medical thought and practice.

Susan Merrill Squier

The book I am working on focuses on the iconic image of the epigenetic landscape, introduced by C.H. Waddington in 1952 to illustrate the probabilistic relationship between genotype and phenotype that constituted the contribution of the new field of epigenetics.

Viktoria Tkaczyk

In recent years, historians have placed modern science under the sign of a “hegemony of vision” in Western culture—one that, despite extending back to antiquity, only became a radically defining moment with the beginning of the early modern period and the inven

Antonio Becchi , Peter Damerow , Ernst-Wilhelm Osthues , Jürgen Renn

The project was dedicated to establishing a long-term epistemic history of architecture, a new approach which focuses on knowledge as a crucial factor for the development of the building trade, in addition to the material, logistic, financial and personal resources involved.

Christoph Hoffmann

In an examination of the epistemic effects and functions of writing in the scientific practice, I want to focus on two types of materials. The first and major subject will be a comparative study of notebooks from the period between 1870 and 1930.

Lara Keuck , Jenny Bangham

This project asks how genetic researchers reconfigured disease categories during the 1950s, when human genetics was being consolidated as a scientific field.

Isabel Gabel

“We suspect that, to do mathematics, it would suffice that we be angels. But to do biology, even with the aid of intelligence, we sometimes need to feel like beasts ourselves.”

Dr. Peter Geimer

The project (March 2001–March 2004) dealt with the role of visual representations in the experimentalization of life.

Jürgen Renn , Florian Schmaltz

Institutions are means to reproduce the social relations existing within a given society and in particular the societal distribution of labor.

Jürgen Renn , Florian Schmaltz

Heather Peterson

Heather’s current work, entitled “Essential Differences: Body and Place in the Early Modern Atlantic” is part of the Cultural History of Heredity project.

Anne Kathrin Overbeck

From the very beginning, reproductive rights and thereby motherhood of African-American women have been subject to interference from the outside and a matter of public debate.

Stefanos Geroulanos

I am currently researching a project in European intellectual and cultural history, a broad study of the trope of a “New Man”—the fantasy of a regeneration of human nature as this developed in European thought and culture from the mid-18th- to the mid-20th century.

Jonathan Harwood

Since the 1940s various programmes for agricultural development in the ‘third world’ have been funded by Western governments and foundations.

András Németh

In the tenth century, Constantinople saw an overambitious project that attempted to unify available historical knowledge into a single, comprehensive, multivolume work of history. We call the scarce remains of this project Excerpta Constantiniana.

Peter Damerow , Jürgen Renn

The preclassical mechanics of the 16th and early 17th centuries was characterized by an elaboration of the available mechanical theories in view of challenging objects.

Jochen Büttner , Peter Damerow , Jürgen Renn , Matthias Schemmel

The rapid advancement of mechanical knowledge in the early modern period is reflected in an impressive expansion of the literary production, including the emergence of new text genres. A major aim of the activity is to reconstruct the shared knowledge reflected in these texts.

Robert Kett

This project examines antiquarian and natural historical practice in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century southern Mexico, analyzing the visualization of the region

Sascha Freyberg

The so called 'hermeneutic circle' -- well-known in the humanities, is applicable to the natural sciences too. With the developments in modern physics at the beginning of the 20th century, especially with quantum mechanics, this proved to be no vicious circle for physicists.

Rafael Javier Díaz Hidalgo

My research project “Experimental Archaeology: Scientific Techniques and Recipes from the Iberian Peninsula (14th - 16th centuries)“ is part of the R & D program HAR2012-37357 “Scientific and technical knowledge in the Iberian Peninsula (13th - 16th centuries): production dissemination and ap

H. Otto Sibum

The Texture of Scientific Change

The objective of the independent research group “Experimental History of Science” has been to investigate the texture of scientific change.

Anke Timmermann

Medieval alchemy employed a distinctive language, imagery and metaphorical expression in its writings.

Hans-Joerg Rheinberger


The research projects in Hans-Jörg Rheinberger’s department (formerly Department III) were completed in 2011. Following, Hans-Jörg Rheinberger continued his scholarly work as director of the MPIWG. 

Björn Brüsch

The promotion of agriculture, the improvement of natural resources and the cultivation of the land in early nineteenth century Prussia were closely connected to the garden.

Hans-Joerg Rheinberger , Henning Schmidgen , Sven Dierig , Julia Kursell

"Experimentalization of life" designates a process that began in Europe around 1800 to reconfigure science, art, and technology.

Samir Boumediene

This project investigates early modern trials and experimentations on 'exotic' materia medica. It considers these trials both as epitemological processes designed to produce new natural knowledge and as social processes designated to generate trust.

Robyn Smith

I suggest that the social sciences can use the data of the life sciences to inform and nuance our understanding of 'bodies'.

Robyn Smith

The manuscript, entitled, Exploring the ‘As Yet Unknown’ in Historical Epistemology, Experimental Systems and Contemporary Nutrition, concerns the material and conceptual conditions for the emergence of vitamins as new scientific objects within experimental systems.

Sébastian Dutreuil

Earth System Science (ESS) underpins our contemporary collective and scientific representation of the Earth.

Juan HE

The Song dynasty (960-1279) saw a gradual transition from external alchemy to internal alchemy. The former concerns the preparation of elixirs in the cauldron through the refining of natural substances to become immortal.

David Sepkoski

This project is an intellectual and cultural history of extinction and biocultural diversity.

Sven Dupre

Claude Mydorge (1585-1647) is a remarkable figure closely linked into the intellectual circle around Mersenne and Descartes. Educated by the Jesuits at La Flèche, the school  also attended by Mersenne and Descartes, he received a degree in law, but never practiced law.


Karl Hall

That the methods of the physical sciences could benefit engineering practice was a proposition widely embraced by the 1920s.

Carolyn Taratko

This project examines scientific eating and the science of nutrition in Germany between 1871 and 1923. It probes notions of what it meant for food to be healthy or pure.

Elizabeth Merrill

The obscure definition of the early modern Italian architect is a subject of longstanding interest.

Simon Werrett

It has commonly been assumed that there were no colors in fireworks prior to the early nineteenth century.

Florian Schmaltz

This research project comprises a comprehensive institutional study about the history of the Aerodynamic Research Establishment (Aerodynamische Versuchsanstalt - AVA) in Göttingen and its predecessor organizations (1907–1950). Several case studies will focus on the

Nancy Anderson

This project will foreground the tool of light in the history of molecular biology by offering an historical analysis of the coupling of fluorescence light microscopy and electronic/digital imaging from 1945-1995.

Xing Huang

In early Ancient China, natural copper and aerosiderite were made into different kinds of articles by forging techniques, such as copper tomahawks with iron blade (铁刃铜钺) in Gaocheng (藁城) in Hebei, Pinggu (平谷) in Beijing, and Junxian (浚县) in Henan.

Jürgen Renn
This project investigates, from an epistemological and historical perspective, the forms of transmission, innovation and canonisation of astronomical and cosmological knowledge from the ancient world to the early modern era.
Susanne Pickert

Fossils during the Middle Ages, 1200-1500

Mineke Bosch

In this contribution the focus is on Frederike van Uildriks as the author of an enormous and varied output of books and articles, literary reviews, comments and fictional stories, many but by large not all of these on subjects relating to ‘nature’, in more than forty papers and periodicals, rangi

Massimiliano Badino

This project aims at the study of the emergence, the development and the critiques of statistical arguments and the concept of probability in physics and their relation with the conceptual and formal tools of classical mechanics. Accordingly, the task is to point out the

Sylvie Neven , Mark Clarke , Karin Leonhard , Sven Dupre

This project studies and reconstructs artisanal knowledge appropriated by artists through the close examination of one type of primary source: artists’ recipe books.

Hansun Hsiung

This project seeks to trace the emergence of a new archival logic of images: the image bank.

Philipp Nicolas Lehmann

“From Herodotus to Global Circulation” examines the role of data in the methodological development of climatology from the middle of the nineteenth century to the 1920s.

Rivka Feldhay

During my year at the Max Planck Institute I intend to complete (or at least to come close to completing) a book manuscript about the Jesuit cultural field in early modernity. The book consists of four sections:

Massimiliano Badino

The emergence of quantum statistics is considered a minor episode in the history of quantum physics, because it took place on the fringe of the main course of problems. But it has to be remembered that it was pursued by first-rank physicists like Einstein and Ehrenfest and had a

Peter Damerow

The first focus explores a series of processes in the very early phases of globalization from the transmission of practical knowledge to the emergence of science.

Marvin Trachtenberg

This presentation develops certain ideas first explored in Dominion of the Eye.

Yijun Wang

This project looks at the epistemic culture of craft and statecraft from 1700 to 1844 by following the trajectory of tin as an ore from the mines to its fabrication as everyday tableware as the key ingredient in the alloy of pewter.


Matteo Valleriani

Andrea Bréard

Recently, historians of law, economy, literature and art in China have become increasingly interested in daily life encyclopedia (lit. Complete Books of a Myriad Treasures 萬寶全書), a popular genre that emerged around the end of the sixteenth century.

Jennifer Anne Marie

My project investigates the relationship between geneticists in early 20th century Europe, animal fanciers (who bred animals to prescribed standards for exhibition purposes) and gardeners.

Michael Bycroft

This project explores the role of gems in defining and advancing some of the many varieties of new science that emerg

Christine von Oertzen

Research on the history of women and gender in science, technology, and medicine has expanded considerably in recent years.

Liesbeth Hesselink

The project inspects domestic practices of recipe collecting and the transfer of medical knowledge in the colonial setting of the Dutch East Indies around 1900, where race, class, and gender come prominently into play.

Kate Grauvogel

Grauvogel’s dissertation argues that the bodies of women—whether as obstetric patients, cadavers, or sufferers of side-effects from birth-control pills—shaped pathological theory as well as understandings of the role of secretions (later identifiable as estrogens) in health and disease.

Bernd Gausemeier

All knowledge about human heredity is based on genealogy, but only in the 19th century did genealogy become the key method for the study of heredity.

Hans-Joerg Rheinberger , Israel); Friedrich Steinle (Bergische Universität Wuppertal); Uljana Feest, Uljana Feest

In the past two decades, experimentation, a core procedure of modern science, has received new attention in the history and philosophy of science.

Uljana Feest , Igal Dotan , Thomas Dohmen , Lambert Williams

Experimentation, a core procedure of modern science, has received new attention in history and philosophy of science in the last two decades.

Dagmar Schäfer , Falk-Juri Knauft

Models and sketches provide a way of transmitting practical knowledge across distances without personal contact. Their role in Chinese history is unclear.

Myles W. Jackson

I am currently working on a book-length study of the role of scientific instrument makers, physicists, and later electrical engineers in shaping musical aesthetics from the late eighteenth to the late twentieth century.

Sicco Lehmann-Brauns

Der vormals monopolisierte Erklärungsanspruch der Historia sacra wurde im Prozeß der ‚Rationalisierung der universalgeschichtlichen Erkenntnis‘ angesichts der neuen chronologischen Befunde, der geographischen Entdeckungen sowie der intensivierten kulturgeschichtlichen Erkenntnisinteressen destrui

As the scope of the history of science expands beyond Europe and North America, methodological questions concerning the essential characteristics of the discipline have to be addressed.

Dana Jalobeanu

My project aims to investigate the complex and creative ways in which Francis Bacon read and used Della Porta’s Magia naturalis as a sourcebook of problems, questions and suggestions for developing sophisticated experimental trials.

Jürgen Renn , Helge Wendt , Sonja Brentjes , Jochen Büttner , Matthias Schemmel

Globalization is understood as the global or potentially global diffusion of any means of social cohesion, be it economic, political, technical, cultural, or epistemic. Globalization can therefore be traced back to the beginnings of human history.

Matteo Valleriani , Jürgen Renn

Aaron Tugendhaft

My project examines the scholarly use and adaptation of a cannonical list of gods from Bronze Age Mesopotamia and Syria.

Ashley Elizabeth Clark

The decades flanking the turn of the nineteenth century are often considered the most productive years of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s literary and scientific life.

Marjolijn Bol

In pre- and early modern times, craftsmen appear to have left no technique unexplored to allow their objects to glow and glitter in resemblance of the work of the goldsmith, or to have them assume the appearance of many more precious or otherwise desirable materials.

Lawrence M. Principe

Alchemy was a diverse and widespread endeavor in early modern Europe. It included not only a diversity of goals (e.g.

Poly Giannakopoulou

This project is about women’s involvement in science in Greece during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, at a time when Greek universities at large had not yet developed into research institutions, and did hardly accept women as students.


Stéphanie Homola

This research focuses on practices and texts related to hand mnemonics in fate prediction methods in contemporary China and Taiwan (with a current focus on Taipei). This skill consists in using the palm of the hand to perform various operations by browsing digital phalanges with the thumb.

Leendert van der Miesen

This project concerns the role of musical instruments and artisanal knowledge in early acoustics. It is through instruments and objects that sound, otherwise difficult to grasp, becomes visible, tangible, and susceptible to investigation.

Arianna Borrelli

The modern concept of temperature would not have come to be without the thermometer. This statement can hardly be doubted, and it is not my intention to do so.

Shenmi SONG

Indigenous China used a concept of benming (“personal destiny 本命) to predict and pray for a person’s life starting from t

Karin Bijsterveld

In state security and forensic contexts, auditory surveillance through wiretapping and sound recording is as old as the technologies that have enabled it since the 1890s.

Alina-Sandra Cucu

My research focuses on the transformations of central planning in Romania as a historically specific form of “modern technopolitics.” Using archival material from the Romanian government, from several schools of industrial management,

Tillmann Taape

The writings of the German apothecary and surgeon Hieronymus Brunschwig (c.

Michael Hau

Focusing on discourses about high performances in sports and work in Weimar and Nazi Germany, the project aims at a comprehensive cultural history of the notion of „performance“ (Leistung) in German culture, sports, medicine and psychology.from 1914 to 1945.

Lorraine Daston

In June 2003 a research group organized by Professor Gianna Pomata (Università di Bologna, Italy) and Professor Nancy Siraisi (Hunter College, New York, USA) on the topic of “Historia in Early Modern Europe” met at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science to prepare a volume on the sub

Jürgen Renn , Jochen Büttner , Dirk Wintergrün

Science and scholarship in the humanities evolve as parts of a comprehensive system of knowledge.  External representations of knowledge such as language, writing, and new media such as the Internet are closely intertwined with this evolution.

Julia Kursell

The project investigates the concepts that constitute our present understanding of sound, hearing and music in three different historic constellations.

Matthias Schemmel

In the history of Western epistemological thought, there is a long tradition of dividing spatial knowledge into a purely rational part, independent of any experience in the outer world, and an experiential part.

Matthias Schemmel , Peter Damerow , Sascha Freyberg , , Jürgen Renn , , Irina Tupikova

The project is conducted by a TOPOI Junior Research Group jointly organized by the TOPOI Cluster and the MPIWG.

Matthias Schemmel

The project aims at a long-term history of basic structures of spatial thinking, ranging from prehistory to the most recent and ongoing scientific revolutions.

Uljana Feest

The conceptual pair of Erklären and Verstehen has been the object of philosophical and methodological debates for well over a century.

Christine Ottner-Diesenberger

The project looks into the social, institutional, scientific and political preconditions of historic research from the very foundation of the Imperial Academy in 1847 to the beginning of the 20th century.

Ursula Klein

In the early modern period, “experimental history” (historia experimentalis) was a collective style of experimentation in addition to experimental philosophy.

Martina Siebert

In Chinese erudite tradition almost every object or technique was attributed to an inventor or originator. From the 12th century onward scholars became seriously engaged in these narrative attributions.

Emmanuel Delille

Although it provides the only indicators of the prevalence of mental disorders in the population, the history of psychiatric epidemiology is not well known. Moreover, epidemiology had a huge impact on global mental health policies after the foundation of the WHO (1948).

Martina Schluender

This project historicizes the shifts and moves undergone by reproduction" as it moved from a concept that described a pregiven capacity fixed in life

Histories of Planning focusses on knowledge production in action, thus emphasizing the entanglement and dynamics of knowledge forms in their historical "making." As things have to work out and ends have to be met, humans identify physical realities and discuss how to handle them.

Olivier Thiery

After a dissertation concerning the “fabrication of existence of the subway”, my current project consists in following and going beyond these first anthropological and ontological interests, shifting in thematical space from technical organisms to living ones, through an historic and ethnologic s

Massimiliano Badino , Giuseppe Castagnetti , Maja Fjaestad , Carmen Hammer , Dieter Hoffmann , Christian Joas , , Edward Jurkowitz , Horst Kant , Shaul Katzir , Christoph Lehner , Daniela Monaldi , Jaume Navarro , Jürgen Renn , Arne Schirrmacher
Christoph Lehner , Jürgen Renn , Dieter Hoffmann , , Massimiliano Badino , Christian Joas , Shaul Katzir , Horst Kant , Jaume Navarro , Arne Schirrmacher , Giuseppe Castagnetti , Alexander Blum , , Carmen Hammer
Christoph Lehner , Christian Joas , Edward Jurkowitz , Jürgen Renn , Matthias Schemmel , Maja Fjaestad , , Martin Jähnert

This group of studies deals with the consolidation, extension, and reception of quantum mechanics from the 1930s onwards, as well as with the debates about its interpretation.

Christoph Lehner , Jürgen Renn , Carmen Hammer

Arne Schirrmacher , Dieter Hoffmann , Jürgen Renn , Horst Kant ,
Further studies were dedicated to the reorganization of physical research as a reaction to the emergence of quantum problems in the early twentieth century.
Christoph Lehner , Jürgen Renn , Dieter Hoffmann , , Massimiliano Badino , Christian Joas , Shaul Katzir , Horst Kant , Jaume Navarro , Arne Schirrmacher

The old quantum theory was a period of transition between classical and quantum mechanics. Successive crises led to a gradual disintegration of the mechanical worldview.

Christian Joas , Christoph Lehner , Jürgen Renn , Horst Kant , Jaume Navarro

This group of studies is concerned with the genesis of modern quantum mechanics, which was established in the mid-1920s as a foundational theory of modern physics involving substantial conceptual modifications compared to classical physics.

Grégoire Chamayou

The term “traceability” appeared in the agribusiness sector in the midst of the 1990s.

Mechthild Fend

The skin is the most extensive organ of the human body and forms at the same time its exterior. When representing a human body, the artist is thus inevitably confronted with the task of depicting skin.

Edward Jurkowitz , Christian Joas

This project examines how the advent of quantum mechanics shaped theoretical research in solid-state/condensed matter physics.  From an electron theory essentially confined to the empirical, the new quantum mechanical framework allowed physicists to make quantitative predictions about actual mate

Maria Klapi

Myriam Klapi explored how reflections on the deaf affected thinking on man’s relationship to language and the hypothesis of a natural language.

Annette Vogt

My book on women scientists (published in 2007) draws a multitude of national and international comparisons between disciplines, institutions and persons, including comparisons of the conditions for male and female scientists.

Rory Du Plessis , Mara Mills

The approach applied in this group went beyond social history, seeking to bring together political and epistemological points of view by investigating the use of rhetoric, medical fashions, and technologies.

Thomas Schlich

This project aims to understand how surgery has transformed from a last resort measure into a routinely used body technology, arguably the most important but one of the least questioned technologies of body manipulation today.

Alexander Blum , Jürgen Renn , Matthias Schemmel

The project was established with the aim of studying the borderline problems at the interface of quantum theory and (general) relativity, which began to capture the attention of physicists after those two theories had emerged from similar conceptual clashes within c

Jürgen Renn , Simone Rieger
At present, the history of science is ever more needed as a resource of reflection on the challenges of present science, but confronted with dwindling resources.
Jochen Büttner , Carmen Hammer , Dieter Hoffmann , Christian Joas , Horst Kant , Simone Rieger , Jürgen Renn , Matteo Valleriani

Since 2007, the Institute has cooperated with local secondary schools on the introduction of the history of science in school project work. Various forms of disseminating insights from the history of science have been adopted, often combining scholarly communication with public outreach.

Lorraine Daston

In the middle decades of the nineteenth century objectivity established itself as a (if not the) cardinal epistemic virtue in the sciences.

Lorraine Daston

How are the objects of science constituted? The objects of a science may be as apparently straightforward as plants in botany, or as complex as the experimental systems of the modern biosciences.

Horst Nowacki , Matteo Valleriani

In 2004/2005 the main activity on the theme of Ship Design and Construction was concentrated on the genesis and application of scientific knowledge in ship hydromechanics in the 18th c. in the context of the International Congress on the "Technology of the Ships

Annette Vogt

In my recent research project I investigate the history of statistics at the Berlin University and at the Berlin School of Economics (Handels-Hochschule) from 1886 (1906 resp.) until 1945.

Gadi Algazi

By the fifteenth century, prescribed Academic celibacy was eroding in northwestern Europe. Scholars moved out of the communal institutions, monasteries and colleges, which had hitherto shaped their daily lives and began founding family households.

Christine von Oertzen

My project focuses on the paper technologies, the labor, and the practices involved in producing printed results of census taking before the arrival of punch cards and Hollerith machines in 1889.

Dan Bouk

How Our Days Became Numbered begins with the struggles that life insurers in the second half of the nineteenth century faced as they made Americans statistical.

Lorraine Daston


Paolo Visigalli

In this paper I investigate the relation between the ritual use made of the Vedas and their codification as canon. In doing so I want to highlight the importance of the concept of mantradevatā, ‘the deity who presides over the ritual formula’, as a system of classifying the Vedic canon.

Emmanuel Didier

My project here at MPIWG is to turn my Ph.D. dissertation, which was finished in 2001, into a book under contract with INED press in France. The provisional title of the book reads Comment les sondages ont exprimé l’Amérique.

Katharina Kreuder-Sonnen

The PhD project analyzed media and techniques of knowledge transfer in medical bacteriology.

Tara Nummedal

Written by the German physician, courtier, and alchemist Michael Maier, Atalanta fugiens (1617/8) offers its readers an alchemical interpretation of the Classical myth of Atalanta as a series of fifty emblems, each containing a motto, a copper plate engraving by the renowned Matthäus Merian, an e

Sven Dupre

Against the background of recent discussions of the artist as reader, artisanal literacy, and the role of reading, drawing and writing in Renaissance workshops, this chapter explores artists’ readings of optics, and their methods of annotation, note-taking and excerpting borrowed from humanists.

Yan Gao

My project is to substantiate concepts such as “sustainability” and “resilience” in China’s historical context. My focus is to test the “adaptive cycle” model proposed by ecologist C. S. Holling in 1973, by analyzing two sets of data.

Robert Casties , Julia Damerow , Peter Damerow , Jürgen Renn , Simone Rieger , Markus Schnöpf , Urs Schoepflin , Dirk Wintergrün

The Humboldt Project aims at an open digital library dealing with a core aspect of the history of science: the role that scientific expeditions played in the discovery of the world. It is concerned with the central documents resulting from European expeditions in the

Tamás Demeter

My project is interpretive: a book-length attempt at understanding Hume’s metaphysics and epistemology in the context of the Scientific Revolution, and against the background of his anthropology.

Maria Rentetzi

Maria Rentetzi’s contribution focuses on the early twentieth-century American marketplace where radium emanations were traded as medical remedies for male debilities, at a time when scientific explanations of sexual impotence in men were shifting from physical to psychological etiologies.


Jenny Bangham , Judith Kaplan

There are powerful epistemological, social and political reasons for concealing (or revealing) certain people, practices, and professions in the course of scientific research.

There are powerful epistemological, social and political reasons for concealing (or revealing) certain people, practices, and professions in the course of scientific research.

Jaume Valentines-Álvarez

In a special issue of Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences published in 2010, Tiago Saraiva and Norton Wise pointed out the need of addressing the complex coevolution between fascism and science, and asked for definitively challenging “the alleged special connection between science

Lorraine Daston

Department II studies the history of scientific reason. Its topics are categories, concepts, and practices that are fundamental to modern science and culture—so fundamental that they seem to transcend history.

Daniel Messner

The aim of this dissertation project was to explore the negotiation and implementation of identification practices at the end of the nineteenth century.

Sylvie Neven

Due to their trade value, a huge range of artistic materials were documented and recorded in historical written sources. However, other substances had no market value and therefore cannot be found in these archives.

Jacob Gaboury

In the last forty years the field of computer science has undergone a dramatic transformation, from an abstract mathematical discipline built on machines used for procedural calculation, to a complex ecosystem of objects fueled in large part by the simulation of material interactions.

Angie D. Heo

My research interests, broadly construed, lie in the historically shifting relations between the fields of religion, science, and politics in modern Egypt.

Mechthild Fend

The project is concerned with a very particular kind of medical imagery: dermatological wax moulages, casts taken from the body of people infected with diseases of the skin to document their condition.

Lydia Barnett

My first book project, Imagined Disasters: Thinking Globally in the Early Enlightenment, argues that the imagination of global natural disasters opened up a new way of thinking

Daniel Margocsy

The project argues that the creative imagination played a crucial role in the development of science during the scientific revolution. Modern, natural knowledge emerged from the interaction of painters, printmakers, cartographers, and natural historians.

Rohan Deb Roy

Insects, whether as materials or metaphors, were significant rather than incidental to the makings of British imperial politics and culture.

András Németh

The purpose of my research is to reconsider the improved textual practices of the mid-tenth-century Byzantine imperial court and to analyze how these activities were linked with the imperial renewal of historiography.

Antonio Barrera-Osorio (Colgate College)

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, America’s Indigenous people provided, under different circumstances, information (or not) to Europeans and Americans about resources and commodities of the New World. Euro-Americans were particularly interested in medicinal plants.

Zhou GU

Indo-Pacific beads are important trade commodities exchanged along the Maritime Silk Route. Previous studies have focused mainly on the Indo-Pacific beads found in South and Southeast Asia, whereas little is known about the Indo-Pacific beads found in China.

Nina Lerman

Learning a trade charts a path to adulthood, a form of planning for a key element in a young person's eventual maturity, thus an act of imagination about the future world the grown child will inhabit.

Filippomaria Pontani

Following on my work concerning the rise of grammar from canonical texts in different linguistic areas, I propose to investigate the role played by Homer, the Bible and the Qur'an in the shaping of the respective rhetorical traditions.

Rita Brara

“Farmers are also scientists” is a refrain at agricultural research institutions. Yet the innovative and predictive aspects of research carried out by agricultural scientists both draw upon and differ from prediction and innovation practiced in the context of farmers’ livelihoods.

Kim Plofker

The aim of this project was to clarify the approaches employed by Indian mathematician-astronomers to develop innovations in their traditional models and practices. The default historiographic assumption, heavily influenced by modern scientific practices, is that mathematical a

Barbara Tramelli

The artistic scene in sixteenth-century Milan was incredibly dynamic and active, and a key-figure of the period was the Milanese painter Giovanni (Gian) Paolo Lomazzo.

Angela Axworthy , Giulia Giannini , Anna Jerratsch , Pietro Daniel Omodeo

This research endeavor brings into focus the mechanisms of institutionalization, dissemination and transformation of knowledge, especially of scientific practices (e.g., experimental approaches, standards of observation, argumentative methods) and of natural theories (e.g., Copernican astronomy,

Kaijun Chen

My project investigates the interaction and divergence of ceramic technology, design, and planning in the manufacture of porcelain in Jingdezhen and Meissen in the seventeenth century.

Marcus Popplow

Planning processes in medieval and early modern European technology have not yet been comprehensively studied.

Michael Gordin

This project focuses on three crucial dates in 1949: 29 August, 3 September, and 23 September. On 29 August, the Soviet Union detonated their test bomb — and then did nothing. The Americans had no idea that anything had happened.

David Bloor

During the 1940s, members of the Psychological Laboratory in the University of Cambridge worked closely with the Royal Air Force on problems connected with pilot error and pilot fatigue. This work gave rise to the celebrated Cambridge Cockpit experiments.

Members of Department III share their ideas and research with widely varied audiences, both specialists and non-specialists:

Harro Maas

In earlier work I have looked in some detail at the quite drastic change in methods in political economy in Victorian Britain in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Katja Bödeker , Peter Damerow , Jürgen Renn

Mechanical knowledge significantly predates any systematic theoretical treatment of mechanics. The most basic knowledge presupposed by mechanics is based on experiences acquired almost universally in any culture by human activities. It includes the

Dora Vargha

Iron Curtain, Iron Lungs: Governing polio in the Cold War uses the series of polio epidemics in communist Hungary to understand the response to a global public health emergency in the midst of an international political crisis.

Lorraine Daston

Member Institutions of the ISMI Board: Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilizations, Aga Khan University, London, UK; Archimedes Project, Harvard University, USA; Filologia Semítica, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain; Encyclopaedia Islamica Foundation, Tehran, Iran; Institute for the History of

Sonja Brentjes , Jürgen Renn


Joanna Weinberg , Anthony Grafton

In the Renaissance, as in earlier periods, scholars often mastered new fields by working through a body of sources, making excerpts from them and filing them under topical headings in commonplace books.

Mathew Hunter

First President of Britain’s Royal Academy of Arts and eminent theorist of Augustan aesthetics, Joshua Reynolds was an inveterate chemical experimenter.

Daniel Boyarin


Jack Hartnell

Considered since Hippocrates to be a direct extension of the surgeon’s hands and fingers, surgical instruments like Knives and Saws represent a body of objects whose long history is deeply intertwined and directly engaged with scientific medical knowledge.

Ylva Söderfeldt

This project explores the emergence of allergy as a medical diagnosis, and the transformations of knowledge associated with that process, as a case study of the border between experts and the people they are concerned with.

Lorraine Daston , Fernando Vidal

The primary aim of this project was to reconfigure the terms in which problems of knowledge and belief are discussed within the history of science.

Jochen Büttner , Peter Damerow , Jürgen Renn , Simone Rieger , Matthias Schemmel , Urs Schoepflin

The development of early modern practical and theoretical mechanics was also shaped by religious constraints.

Daniel Speich

Since World War II, a complex system of international technical cooperation and development aid has evolved that prominently structures knowledge about the North–South divide. Countless international organizations owe their very existence to this field of expertise.

Matthias Schemmel , Simone Rieger

The second focus deals with the dissemination of knowledge in the sequel of that of power and belief structures on the Eurasian continent.

Dagmar Schäfer

In the year 1973 a carpenter pulled out a portfolio of porcelain sketches from behind one of the detached fittings that he had been asked to repair in the Western Palace in the Forbidden City Palace complex.

Jürgen Renn , Christoph Rosol , Helge Wendt , Giulia Rispoli , Benjamin Steininger , Sara Nelson, Scott Gabriel Knowles , Masahiro Terada , Daniel Niles, Francesco Luzzini , Ursula Klein , Elena Serrano , Tina Asmussen , Manfred Laubichler , Benjamin Johnson, Julia Mariko Jacoby

A central research topic of Department I is the role of long-term developments and dissemination of the knowledge used by humankind to exploit natural resources and to create new, artificial environments.

Christoph Hoffmann , Hans-Joerg Rheinberger , Barbara Wittmann

The stylus is one of the simplest and most economical instruments of scientific practice. Apparently unsophisticated though ubiquitous, it plays a constitutive role in the production of knowledge.

Jim Secord

For well over a decade, the notion of circulation has occupied a key position in the history of science.  This emphasis has roots in a variety of distinctive analytical projects, ranging from the early actor-network theory of

James Secord

For well over a decade, the notion of circulation has occupied a key position in the history of science.  This emphasis has roots in a variety of distinctive analytical projects, ranging from the early actor-network theory of Bruno Latour to work on encounters and material exchange by Nicholas Th

Claudia Swan

This research project concerns the literary remains of Dutchman Ernst Brinck (1582-1649) and focuses on preserving and activating the exceptional annotations, inscriptions, lists, and commentaries contained in his surviving Adversaria (nearly fifty notebooks, never previously published or studied

Jochen Büttner , Elio Nenci , Jürgen Renn , Matthias Schemmel , Matteo Valleriani
In the International Year of Astronomy 2009, Department I joined forces with the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg to explore how the invention of the telescope recast our view of the universe; the results were published in a special issue of the German astronomy journal Sterne und We
Katy Park

This project, which is based on a course that Ahmed Ragab and I co-teach in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard, will yield a co-authored book for the use of students and nonspecialist scholars.

Dagmar Schäfer

The project's approach proceeds from the assumption that the dynamics of innovative processes are crucially affected by the distinct culture of communicating, accumulating and implementing practical knowledge.

Jeremy Vetter

This project considers the region as a useful scale for analyzing the environmental context and work organization of science, a middle level between local and global. It focuses on field work between 1860 and 1920 in the U.S.

Jaya Remond

My research project investigates the role art manuals, including model- and drawing-books such as Vogtherr’s Kunstbüchlein and Beham’s Kunst und Ler büchlein, played in the formation and circulation of artistic knowledge in early modern Europe, with an emphasis on German material.


Philipp Felsch

The dissertation project "Laboratory Landscapes.

Hans-Joerg Rheinberger

My current research focuses on a number of case studies designed to map the development of experimental genetics in Germany from the end of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century.

Hans-Joerg Rheinberger

My current research focuses on a number of case studies designed to map the development of experimental genetics in Germany from the end of the nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century.

Wolfgang Behr

The notorious European preoccupation with the origins of language and lingui­stic diversity has commonly been ascribed to the rejection of the Genesis master narrative.

Sabine Arnaud , Silvia Chiletti , John Carson (University of Michigan)

Legal texts provide extremely interesting crystallizations of the conception of the deaf, and of the difficulty of framing their citizenship while language is considered a major form of access to citizenship rights.

Laura Turnbridge

Funded by fellowships from the Leverhulme Trust and the Arts and Humanities Research Council, this book project investigates Lieder performance between the World Wars.

Joeri Bruyninckx

This project takes the workplace (broadly conceived) as its point of entry into the history of acoustics and listening.

Lino Camprubi

What does it mean to hear underwater and how has it changed in the last 100 years? This question is best answered by paying close attention to technologies for submarine detection.

Alexandra E. Hui

“Listening to Nature: Standardized Soundscapes and Imagined Ecologies, 1900–2000” is a comparative study of how field scientists listen to the environment. As such, it is at the intersection of environmental history, history of science, sound studies, and sensory history.

William Lockhart

The keyboard arrangement – an adaptation of a large musical work for performance at the home piano – was central to both the performing and listening habits of the nineteenth-century amateur musician.  Not only did it respond to the desperate need for a cheap technology of

Shih-Pei Chen , Zoe Hong , Dagmar Schäfer , Qun Che , Ling Cao , Aurelia Campbell , Previous Project Members: Li-Erh Chang, Jorge Patricio Urzúa Contreras.

Local gazetteers (difangzhi 地方志) have been major primary sources for the study of China’s local history. About 8,000 titles of local gazetteers dating from the tenth to the nineteenth century are still extant, covering almost all well-populated regions of historical China.

Jürgen Renn , Matthias Schemmel

The history of scientific knowledge is characterized by recurrent phases of fundamental conceptual reorganization involving genetically related but mutually incompatible conceptual systems.

Jürgen Renn , Matteo Valleriani

Mechanical knowledge is characterized by the continuity of its tradition from antiquity until the time between the end of the seventeenth and the eighteenth century when preclassical mechanics prepared the background against which modern physics emerged and fundamental categories, concepts, and v


Christine von Oertzen

The advent of punch cards and the electric tabulating machine invented in 1889 is typically described as a key milestone in the development of modern data processing, bringing about a fundamental und inexorable transformation of information technology.

Francesca Bordogna

The project explores a group of Italian psychologists, philosophers, and writers who in the first years of the twentieth century crafted a form of pragmatism known as “psychological” or “magic” pragmatism.

Robert Kaster

In my project I consider the approaches that two readers of the twelfth century took to the Lives of the Caesars (De vita Caesarum) by the Roman author Suetonius (ca. 69-130 CE).

Xueling GUAN

Keeping the emperor healthy was an issue of national concern. To meet this end, the court took several measures.

Martina Siebert

Imperial palaces are complex structures with many functions that require planning on many levels: from ensuring financial soundness to the petty business of sweeping floors, from producing extraordinary objects to the performance of state rituals.

Minakshi Menon

This project explores the natural knowledge-making strategies of British colonial savants in early modern India including the noted orientalist, Sir William Jones (1746–1794), and the English East India Company medics Francis Buchanan (1762–1829) and William Roxburgh (1751–1815).

Lucia Dacome

This project investigates the historical significance of anatomical modeling and bodily display. In particular, it considers the emergence, in the mid-eighteenth

Lucia Dacome

This project investigates the historical significance of anatomical modeling and bodily display.

Qiong Zhang

Followed the Ming dynasty, the Qing emperors established three Royal Textile factories in Hangzhou, Suzhou, and Nanjing.

Marie Thébaud-Sorger

Postulating that the socio-materiality of an object affects both the perception of environment and knowledge production, my research seeks to grasp the fine mechanisms by which a change in perception about human surroundings occurred in modern Europe in the course of the eighteenth century.

Mårten Söderblom Saarela

My project focuses on the Manchu language, particularly its script's influence on language studies in Qing China, covering the period 1607–1911.

Michael Stanley-Baker

What were drugs?  Were they gateways to divine realms, protectors from demonic plagues, commodities for trade, markers of

Michael Stanley-Baker , Shih-Pei Chen , Qun Che

Writing between the years of 492 and 498, the medieval Daoist patriarch and court alchemist Tao Hongjing  陶弘景 (456–536) described the multitiered drug market of his day as a complex drug supply chain between those who prescribe, those who procure, and those who sell them on the market: “The vario

Philipp von Hilgers

Mapping the Field of Vision. From Experimental Investigations of Reading to Pattern Recognition, 1860–1960

Christopher Minkowski

In the early modern period the principal arena for intellectual dispute for Brahminical thinkers writing in Sanskrit was the proper interpretation of the canonical literature of the Vedānta.

Filippo Camerota

The purpose of this study is to verify an alternative approach to the construction of the perspective composition of the Trinity fresco, forgetting for a moment the long tradition which attributes to Masaccio the correct use of the so-called costruzione legittima.

Marco Beretta

Built in 1574 by court engineer and architect Bernardo Buontalenti for Francesco I de Medici, the Casino San Marco represents a unique example of a late Renaissance site of alchemical research, art collecting and policy court.

Ursula Klein

In the past two decades, historical studies of the relations between the experimental and observational sciences and the arts and crafts in the early modern period have placed instruments at the forefront of historical inquiry.

Anja Sattelmacher

In my dissertation I examine the rapprochement between so-called “mathematical intuition” (Anschauung) and practical application of mathematics in 1830-1914, which was promoted by the Mathematics Professor Felix Klein and his colleagues throughout German universities, schools and technical colleg

Carmen Hammer , Dieter Hoffmann , Christian Joas , Horst Kant , Christoph Lehner , Simone Rieger , Jürgen Renn , Arne Schirrmacher , Milena Wazeck

Barbara Wittmann

The institutionalization of child psychology around 1900 was accompanied by techniques of observation and experiment that separated scientific attention from the education and everyday care of children.

Dagmar Schäfer

This project addresses socio-cultural issues, knowledge mobility across space and the social context of artisans. In this context, social-cultural issues refer to esoteric tradition, popular religion and ritualization of technologies. 

The Court and Crafts.


John Carson

My research project investigates how the Anglo-American legal and medical communities constituted and contested the concept of “unsoundness of mind” (non compos mentis) during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Dror Weil

This project proposes to research medical knowledge as it was embedded and incorporated in the body of Islamic literature that circulated in China between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries.

Sabine Arnaud , Claire Shaw , Claudia Stein

The battle around the definition of deafness was a conflict between the human sciences not only about who knew and understood mankind the best, but also about who should be in charge of transforming mankind so as to bring it to its optimum condition.

Lobsang Yongdan

My research interest is in the ways that Tibetan scholars at the imperial Qing courts (1642–1911) translated and transmitted European science (astronomical, geographical, and medical works) into Tibetan, and the impact of this transmission on Tibetan intellectual traditions.

Max Stadler

The project concerns a material history of the excitable cell in the 20th century.

Elizabeth E. Yale

I propose to consider the posthumous handling of the papers of seventeenth-century British naturalists and medical practitioners.

Matteo Valleriani , Jürgen Renn
The project focuses on mechanics as a part of science that has extraordinary significance for the development of science in general.
Lily Xiaolei Huang

My dissertation is about a particular moment of metaphysical freedom in France, during the first fifteen years of the twentieth-century, when Henri Bergson lectured at the Collège de France.

Jeffrey Schwegman

The French Enlightenment represents a unique episode in the history of post-classical philosophy: a moment poised between the decline of the medieval university and the rise of philosophy as an academic profession, when philosophical knowledge was produced largely outside of specialized and learn

The history of science has developed into a unified study of artefacts, practices, action, and knowledge that brings together a

Susanne Bauer

This project will explore the production and negotiation of difference in Soviet/Russian human biology and ecology from 1970 to present.

Sonam Kachru

This dissertation offers a new interpretation of the Monograph in Twenty Verses, an important essay in the history of philosophy in South Asia by the influential Buddhist philosopher Vasubandhu (fl. fifth century CE).

Sophia Danielle Davis

Amateur and professional naturalists were enthralled by bird migration in the years following the Second World War. In Britain two "bird observatories" had been created in the mid–1930s, but in the postwar craze 15 more were opened in as many years.

Hans-Joerg Rheinberger

For individual projects see the list on the right-hand side.

Jenny Boulboullé


Materials, such as wax, used to visualise anatomical knowledge three-dimensionally and to make knowledge claims in anatomy and physiology palpable gained importance with the increasing ‘experimentalisation of nature’ in the seventeenth-century. 

Kelly J. Whitmer

The Greek word philanthrōpos, explained Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz in 1693, means affection regulated by divine wisdom.

Vincenzo De Risi

Although a divide between ancient and modern geometry can be framed in different ways, the most useful one may well be the emergence of the consideration of space itself as an object of geometrical investigation.

Dagmar Schäfer , Martina Siebert , Cathleen Paethe



Stefan Bargheer

In a bestselling book on his hunting expeditions in East Africa, first published in 1903, Carl Georg Schillings lamented the decline and extinction of wild animals. In Schillings’ view, something had to be done immediately.

Whitney Laemmli

Labanotation was a system developed by the German choreographer and amateur physiologist Rudolf Laban to preserve dance on paper.

Francesca Bray , Dagmar Schäfer , John-Bosco Lourdusamy, Tiago Saraiva, Barbara Hahn

Moving Crops is a collaborative research project in the Scale and Scope Working Group. This project aims to bring together scholars working at the intersection of history of science, history of commodities, and history of food to experiment with space and time scales in historical writing.

Pamela O. Long - Independent Scholar

In a previous publication I hypothesized that a growing number of "trading zones" developed in fifteenth and sixteenth century Europe—that is, arenas in which on-going and substantive communication occurred between individuals with practical, artisanal backgrounds and

Dagmar Schäfer , Hartmut Kern

The "multimedia journal" is a five-year project initiated by Dagmar Schäfer. The project examines ways of creating scientific articles, editorially and technically, through multimedia.

Oscar João Abdounur

This project aims at understanding mathematical and musical factors that led to a substantial change in the conception of western music in the Renaissance.

Alexander Schwerin

Mutagens are simultaneously both required and avoided substances. They are “substances of transformation,” but also “genetic poisons.” Their transformative qualities destined mutagens to become unavoidable instruments within genetics and molecular biology.

Luis Campos

My other research interests center on the shifting meaning of mutation in the early twentieth century, a remarkable shift from the phenotypic to the genotypic level that has gone relatively unanalyzed to date.

Laura Otis

The anatomist and physiologist Johannes Müller (1801–1858) trained a generation of scientists who left contradictory descriptions of their teacher.


Staffan Mueller-Wille

According to a famous formula going back to Immanuel Kant, the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries saw the transition from natural history to the history of nature.

Veronika Lipphardt

In the early 1950s, geneticists and physical anthropologists recognized their professional dilemma. On the one hand, they still found it important to study human biological variation empirically, and even more so in the light of the new evolutionary synthesis.

Ling Cao

ThThis research project aims to analyze regional differences in the impact on the ecological environment of the introduction and spread of maize during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, based on local gazetteers.

Susan Maxwell

In 1616, Prince Elector Maximilian I of Bavaria (r. 1573-1651) commissioned four hunt paintings from Peter Paul Rubens, then one of the most sought after artists in Europe.

Igal Dotan

Background knowledge and its role in scientific research are rather new topics on which very little has been written.

Masato Hasegawa

This project examines the seldom-studied intersection of the environment, technology, society, and war in the Sino-Korean borderland from the late sixteenth to the early seventeenth century.

Jaya Remond

My research project studies the production of botanical illustrations depicting "exotic" plants in early modern Northern Europe (1550-1750), with a focus on France, the Low Countries, and their relationship to the Caribbean.

Jørn Erik Henriksen

Glass in the early modern period was a boundary object, made and used by hybrid experts: it was used widely for utensils and optic aids, in architecture, furniture, scientific instruments, anatomy, and for decorative art works ranging from stained glass windows to coloured mezzotints, fake gems a

Nicolas Langlitz

In the last decades, brain research has led to a neurobiologization of our self-image.

Barbara Berrie

A goal of early modern artists was mimesis. Artists sought to render in the tradition of Apelles works that could appear so real that they fooled the viewer.

Steven Lydon

The preface of Nietzsche’s Götzen-Dämmerung oder Wie man mit dem Hammer philosophiert (1889) reveals that the eponymous hammer is not a weapon, but a “tuning fork” used to “sound out” idols. Although many have tried to explain this title, its meaning remains uncertain.

Evan Hepler-Smith

In my dissertation, I follow the efforts of European and American chemists to trace identity, similarity, and difference across the tens of thousands of synthetic compounds that were transforming chemistry and industries from fashion to

Matthew Eddy

In her influential essay "Throwing Like a Girl," the feminist philosopher Iris Marion Young argued that boys and girls are often taught to inhabit space through different kinds of bodily movement.

Robert Casties , Cornelia Kleinitz , Dirk Wintergrün

This online research archive is dedicated to the rock art of the Nile valley. Initially, it presents high resolution digital photographs, as well as video files, drawings and written information on the petroglyphs of the Fourth Nile Cataract region in northern


Susanne Thuerigen

My research project focuses on the various relations between natural philosophy, i.e. astronomical and astrological knowledge, and artistic production in the field of clockworks, especially table clocks, in the pre-modern age.

Margareta Tillberg

This project studies the influences and importance of artists' observational techniques on other sciences in one of the major research institutes in the Soviet Union: VNIITE – All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Industrial Design (Vsesoiuznyi nauchno-issledovatel’skii institut tekhnichesko

Christelle Gramaglia

Unless exceptional events cause effects directly visible to the naked eye, air and water pollution remain mostly imperceptible.

Hansjakob Ziemer

Since the establishment of the modern symphony concert around 1800, the musical experience has been mediated through journalistic observation.

Jung Lee

Located 5 miles north of the City of London, straddling the north London Boroughs of Camden and Barnet, Hampstead Heath’s 800 acres are set across a sandy ridge, with the lower parts of the Heath turning to London clay.

Birgit Nemec

Anatomists, social policy makers and artists produced in early 20th century Vienna a variety of images of the human body, that had different functions, uses and meanings in the changing scientific, political and cultural contexts of European modernity.

Rafael Ziegler

While at the Max-Planck I primarily work on two cases studies. The first one, on the Traum vom Umweltraum, studies the “eco-space” approach that has been proposed by economists and civil society actors since the late 1980s as a way to “operationalize” sustainable development.

Joanna Radin

This project examined intersecting histories of big data and postcolonial biomedicine, with an emphasis on the relationship between situated bodies and seemingly mobile information.

Erling Sandmo

In 1539, the catholic Swedish priest Olaus Magnus published a large map of Scandinavia, the Baltic region and the North Sea.

Ivo Gurschler

According to Sasha Shulgin, Mescaline has become the “meter” for psychedelic substances, as it was the first of its kind to be approached scientifically. But how did a Mexican cactus turn into a chemically pure substance after all?

Christina Brandt

This project aims at uncovering the scientific and cultural layers in the 20th century history of cloning.

Abigail Woods

The histories of nonhuman animals and how they shaped human history are pressing and important issues that lie at the forefront of historical scholarship today.

Lindy Divarci , Joerg Kantel , Jürgen Renn , Matthias Schemmel , Klaus Thoden

Databases, digitized historical sources, computer-based tools for their analysis, as well the network of links integrating them with scholarly interpretations play an important role in a history of science that increasingly becomes part of the digital humanitie

Robert Casties , Simone Rieger , Jürgen Renn , Urs Schoepflin , Dirk Wintergrün

In 2002 the initiative “ECHO – Cultural Heritage Online” was established to create a research driven infrastructure for the humanities.

Robert Casties , Simone Rieger , Jürgen Renn , Urs Schoepflin , Dirk Wintergrün

In 2002 the initiative “ECHO – Cultural Heritage Online” was established to create a research driven infrastructure for the humanities.

Yangzi Wu

After the German physicist Max Planck first raised the concept of quantum in 1900, the study of quantum physics was advanced through the efforts of many physicists, and a relatively complete set of theories of quantum mechanics had been developed by the 1930s.

Jürgen Renn

Andrea Westermann

In the late nineteenth century, geological research practices were subject to a definite change.

Vanessa Agnew

In 1925, Dorothea Bleek and Mary Agard Pocock mounted a seven-month expedition, which took them from Cape Town, north by rail to the Victoria Falls, then by foot and palanquin—a mode of transport popular among colonial officials—through Zambia, western Zimbabwe, and central Angola to the coastal


Raviv Ganchrow

What is the nature of anechoic experience? What kind of sonic materialities and spatial ontologies are fostered in echoless surroundings, and which sonic models propagate through anechoic practices?

Karin Leonhard

It has been argued persuasively that we should see the art of the miniaturist as being closely related to the art of the goldsmith—with the painted ‘jewel’ of the miniature developing from the translucent enamels on an engraved ground used by earlier and contemporary goldsmiths.

Elaine Leong

In recent years, the household has emerged as a central place for knowledge codification practices in the early modern period. Investigations into medical and health-related knowledge and practices have proved to be particularly illuminating.

Anna Echterhölter

John Maynard Keynes once mentioned the tedious duties of a friend, who served as a colonial official in Uganda: Apparently his preoccupation was to decide on the “standard goat”. This animal served as a key unit in many disputes over possession.

Beth Linker (University of Pennsylvania)

One of Dr. Clelia Duel Mosher’s professional life goals was to fix the American slouch, making all the “uneven shoulders and hips, the drooping heads, the winged scapulae, and the flat chests” symmetrical and upright.

Anna Märker

Since the early modern period, artists and anatomists have worked towards the perfection of models of the body in three dimensions. Models in wax, in particular, were celebrated in the eighteenth century for their lifelike appearance.

Ryan Dahn

My research focuses on German physicist Pascual Jordan’s (1902–1980) role as a scientist, public intellectual, and political actor in three radically different Germanies: the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich, and the postwar Federal Republic.

Hyo Yoon Kang

What do scientific taxonomies have in common with patent classifications? Both are examples and practices of ordering and structuring information into manageable and more or less visible entities; entities which are made to relate to other entities within determinate variables and pathways.

Christer Nordlund

By exploring the early history of quantitative palynology, especially the cultural processes and material practices through which pollen became data and peat bogs turned into biological archives, the aim of this project is to show ho

Thomas Sturm

It is a continuous task for the empirical sciences to distinguish reliable from unreliable observation. A concept that plays an important role here is that of an illusion of perception. For philosophers, such illusions have often been a reason to mistrust the senses.

Paola Bertucci

In 1730 a small booklet entitled Regléments de la Societé des Arts announced to the learned world the constitution of the Societé des Arts, a Parisian assembly of artisans and savants that would soon grow to over a hundred members.

Otto Sibum

Historians of science have repeatedly argued that the concrete process of working in a laboratory or workshop can usually only be recovered with difficulty and incompletely from historical texts and illustrations. Illustrations in scientific publications and entries in

Jeanne Peiffer

Dürer’s Underweysung der Messung (1525, 1538) is most famous for having introduced the rules of linear perspective north of the Alps, and his engraving The Painter with a Lute at the end of the book stands as an emblem for a Renaissance culture of perspective.

Klaus E. Werner , Sven Dupre ,

In collaboration with the Biblioteca Hertziana (Max Planck Institute for Art History) in Rome the research group is developing a digital platform [Perspectiva+] for the history of optics and its various appropriations in the decorative and visual arts from the fifteenth to the seventeenth century

Jaime Cuenca

The field of studies on perspective has experienced a dramatic revival in the last decades, receiving contributions from disciplines as diverse as history of art, history of science, philosophy and cultural studies.

Jaime Cuenca

Theatre did not only become a site of specific perspective knowledge and practices during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but was deeply shaped by them in its evolution into a secular and professionalized form of leisure event.

José Calvo-López

Hernán Ruiz II, master mason of Seville cathedral and a key figure in the introduction of the Renaissance in Spain, left to posterity an architectural manuscript known as Libro de Arquitectura.

Nikolaus Bacht

The project focuses on a phenomenon that has persistently eluded historical description: the history of music listening, a subject only recently (re)introduced into the canon of the humanities.

Gary Hatfield

During my visit, I will pursue three topics. First, the crisis in psychology, in connection with the MPIWG workshop in October, 2008. The Gestalt psychologist Koffka used crisis talk during the 1920s and he was joined by Koehler in the 1930s.

Charlotte Bigg

During her time at the MPIWG Charlotte Bigg worked on a book, Photography and Astronomy, to appear in Reaktion Books’ Exposure series on the history of photography.

Emily Brownell

This project seeks to explore the dynamic environmental changes and geographical expansion of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, during the 1970s and early 1980s. At the height of centralized state power in Tanzania, the nation's development model (Ujamaa) was decidedly rural and agrarian.

Otto Sibum

Over the last decade, historians of science have shifted their attention to look beyond official texts. Aspiring to understand what scientists did and not merely what they have written, they have drawn attention to the silent witnesses of the past: instruments, laboratory

Richard Staley

This project seeks to deliver new perspectives on the material, conceptual and disciplinary foundations of physics in the period from 1870 to the 1920s.

Megan C. McNamee

This essay examines the many pictures of solids added to the margins of Macrobius's fifth-century Commentary on Cicero's Dream of Scipio in light of contemporary geometric practice around the turn of the first millennium.

Megan C. McNamee

Education changed in the central middle ages. While the arts of grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic continued to be taught as the foundation of all learning, the quadrivium, the four disciplines of number—arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy—received new emphasis.

Susanne B. Keller

This project investigates the visualisation of the hidden zones beneath the earth’ s surface and the interior of the earth, in science and art.

Stefan Albl

Stefan Albl's project focused on preparing a book on one of Pietro Testa’s last paintings before committing suicide.

Sarah Blacker

The Canadian oil industry operates predominantly on First Nations treaty lands using in situ methods of bitumen extraction to feed an insatiable global appetite for oil, resulting in environmental contamination on an immense scale.

Martina Siebert

In Qing China the lotus plant, symbol of both beauty and diligence, was grown on bodies of water in plain sight of the emperor near and around the Imperial palace.

Martina Siebert

In Qing China, the lotus plant was grown on an agricultural scale on bodies of water in plain sight of the emperor near and around the Imperial palace.

Hong Hong Tinn

Honghong Tinn’s research project, entitled “Planning the Mathematization of an Economy: Leontief’s Inter-industry Input-Output Analysis and its Global Circulation,” examines the history of the inter-industry input-output analysis as a theory, practice, and tech

Francesco Paolo de Ceglia, University of Bari

Starting in the late Middle Ages rumors spread throughout Europe about blood miracles which concerned first the alleged relics of Christ, then those of the martyrs, and, finally, those of many other saints.

Francesco Paolo de Ceglia (University of Bari)

Starting in the late Middle Ages rumors spread throughout Europe about blood miracles which concerned first the alleged relics of Christ, then those of the martyrs, and, finally, those of many other saints.

John Tresch

The writings of Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849) dramatize the challenges of the archive: the rites of burial and exhumation, the perils of encryption and decoding, the difficulty of isolating the meaningful detail from a morass of traces, the gap between human finitude and God's perfect knowledge.

Alisha Rankin

This project, which I am developing into a monograph tentatively titled The Poison Trials: Antidotes and Experiment in Late Renaissance Europe, examines the role played by poison antidotes in sixteenth-century ideas about evaluating and testing drugs.

Kavita Philip

India’s first Five Year Plan went public on December 7, 1952, by which time, as one mid-century economic commentator noted, “the plan which it purported to describe had been in operation for some twenty months.” Although social constraints on economic growth were acknowledged in all planning docu

Ursula Klein

As recent historiography has shown, the early modern craftsmen and artisans were more inventive and less reluctant to change as was traditionally assumed.

H. Otto Sibum

The project focuses on a historical period in which modern science took shape, a period of critical importance for exploring the fruitful interactions between science and other forms of knowledge.

Jung Lee

Paper in pre-modern Korea was known for its unique qualities: a white glossy surface and cloth-like strength. It was very much desired by Korea’s threatening neighbour, China, which demanded large quantities as tributary gifts.

Gianna Pomata

My work focuses on the practices of observation of early modern European physicians. I examine in particular the development of the genre of medical observationes (collections of case-histories), a new form of writing that emerged in the late Renaissance.

Didier Debaise

In 1891 C.S. Peirce wrote in an article with the title “The architecture of theories”: “Now philosophy requires thoroughgoing evolutionism of none” (Peirce, 1958 :148).

Matteo Valleriani , Jochen Büttner

The Garden of Pratolino, located twelve kilometers from Florence on the slopes of the Apennine Mountains, was created during the second half of the XVI century at the command of Grand Duke Francesco I de Medici under the supervision of his chief engineer Bernardo Buontalenti.

The PhD candidates constituting the PhD Group affiliated to the Department I of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science undertake dissertations and researc

Carla Nappi

Focusing on Manchu-language discussions about anatomy and materia medica in a number of textual genres, the project looks critically at efforts to use Manchu as a medium for translating bodily space and experience across early modern Eurasia, considering translations across languages, te

Bruce Moran - University of Nevada

The project focuses upon the techniques (and difficulties) of woodblock cutting in the making of printed botanical images, as well as upon the use and reuse of images in two distinct traditions of early modern herbals.

Mirjam Brusius

William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) is primarily remembered as the pioneer of photography. This is reinforced by the disposition of his papers, notably the separation of the notebooks that document Talbot's photographic innovations from the rest of his archive.

Alex Csiszar

Alex Csiszar's project concerned the origins and consequences of the rise of the scientific journal in nineteenth-century France and Britain.

Marius Buning

This project examines the history of copyright in the early Dutch Republic (ca. 1581–1621). It relates the genesis of intellectual property rights to wider issues concerning state formation and innovation. The primary source material for the study consists of printing privileges.

Ursula Klein

Continuing an earlier survey on eighteenth-century and early nineteenth-century plant and animal chemistry and the experimental culture of organic chemistry that developed after 1830, which is part

Postdoc projects, delving into different histories of planning, address the role of education, institutions, and individuals and the intersections of practice and prescription.

Jongtae Lim

Upon returning from his tributary mission to Beijing in 1788, a member of the Korean literati named Pak Chega (1750–1805) drafted a travelogue titled Proposals for the Northern Learning.

Stefan Borchers

Stefan Borchers explores the influence of religious confession in shaping the theories of generation and inheritance in late 17th- and 18th-century Lutheran Germany.

Erna Fiorentini

This project is part of the Research Unit TP A2 of the Collaborative Research Center - Sonderforschungsbereich SFB 626 "Aesthetic Experience and the Dissolution of Artis

Beat Bächi

Synthetic vitamin C – and its triumphal procession – are science and technology in action. The success of the Reichstein procedure to synthesise vitamin C was highly unlikely. In fact, the “vitamin successes” appeared even to Hoffmann-La Roche’s general director to be “surprising”.


Ori Sela

My project aims to identify and examine the philological revolution in eighteenth-century China across disciplinary boundaries and from a new interpretative framework—the nexus of knowledge and Confucian identity.

Olaf Engler
The project aims at investigating the relation between the emergence and development of quantum physics and scientific philosophy in the first three decades of the 20th century.  In the first part of the project the main task is to focus on two central figures of scientific


Maika Nakao

The emergence of modern health-related commodities and tourism in the late Meiji and Taisho eras (1900s to 1920s) was paradoxically accompanied by a revival of spiritualist religions, many of which had origins in folk belief.

Alexander Schwerin

Since September 2004, this study as well as Heiko Stoff’s work on “biological active substances” has formed the life science section of the research group “History of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, 1920-1970,” which is part of the Department for the History of Natural Sciences and Pharmacy,

Carolyn Birdsall

This project addresses the early history of sound archiving in broadcasting and its relationship to new arenas of cultural and knowledge production.

Luis Campos

Long before the atomic bomb indelibly associated radioactivity with death, many physicists, botanists, and geneticists were eagerly remarking that radium held the key to the secret of life.

Bernhard Kleeberg

Raising one’s standard of living seems a desire so familiar to us that we don’t hesitate to judge it common to people at any place and time.

Thomas Sturm

Philosophical naturalists claim that we should use empirical psychological knowledge for answering epistemological questions.

Hansjakob Ziemer

During the first three decades of the twentieth century musicologists and music critics increasingly problematized the role of emotions in listening experiences. This project investigates how and why the study of emotions in music became contested.

Elaine Leong

Since the introduction of Gutenberg’s invention of movable type, medical and scientific ideas have circulated in printed books, journals and pamphlets.

Tanvi Solanki

My current research project, leading up to a book manuscript, traces eighteenth-century concepts and practices of tone, rhythm, and prosody in the fields of anthropology, theology, philology, and literary criticism.

Elaine Leong

Reading Rivière in Early Modern England uses the story of Lazare Rivière’s bestselling Praxis medica/The Practice of Physick to explore the production, transfer and codification of vernacular medical knowledge in early modern Europe.

Gianna Pomata (Johns Hopkins University)

Our contribution will focus on the medical recipe as the vehicle for the transmission of experiential knowledge between cultures.

Lucia Lewowicz (with support by Ursula Klein and Jürgen Renn) explores the remains of Liebig’s laboratory located at the Fray Bentos Cultural-Industrial Landscape, which belongs to the Unesco World Heritage since 5 July 2015.

Anna Grasskamp

In addition to information provided by newspapers, travelogues, correspondences and other written records that provided knowledge on ‘the foreign’, also objects made in Asia formed highly complex sources of information to their sixteenth-century German recipients.

Romana Filzmoser

Alongside Richard Haydocke's translation of Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo's treatise on painting from 1598, this chapter examines concepts of color concerning cosmetics, painting and complexion in relation to aesthetics, artistic and medical practice in the sixteenth- and seventeenth centuries.

Elena Serrano

Focusing on “reformist objects” and their handling by actors who have been largely out of focus—mostly women and entrepreneurs—my project explores the relationship between technology, politics, and gender in three crucial themes for eighteenth-century actors: the managing of the poor, the e

Morgan Wesley

While the interaction of clay and fire in the kiln is integral to the ceramic process, the 17th century saw the inclusion of a new permutation of that elemental relationship.

Liping Song

The “Models and Regulations” (則例) extant today that relate to the Qing palace demonstrate an increase in the codification and systematization of technological knowledge and its materials, proc

Guy Burak

My project explores the emergence of an imperial jurisprudential canon in the Ottoman Empire in the early modern period. It examines the ways in which the Ottoman dynasty regulated the circulation and reading of a specific textual corpus.

Valentina Pugliano (University of Cambridge)

Probatum est. It has been tried, tested, and on average proven to work. This pithy sentence has come to encapsulate the view that modern historians have of artisanal practice in the medieval and early modern period.

Cristiano Zanetti

The main focus of my research is Renaissance planetary horology. The narrative of the Scientific Revolution rests on three major buttresses: a new Astronomy, a new empirical method, and a new mathematical abstraction for explaining a mechanical World.

Christoph Lehner , Jürgen Renn

The goal of the project is the study of the emergence and transformation of core groups of concepts that structure the vast knowledge embodied in the mechanical worldview as a result of processes of knowledge integration and disintegration.

Christoph Lehner , Jürgen Renn

The goal of the project is the study of the emergence and transformation of core groups of concepts that structure the vast knowledge embodied in the mechanical worldview as a result of processes of knowledge integration and disintegration.

Jürgen Renn , Olaf Engler

A group of studies analyzes conceptual transformations within the life sciences under analytical and historiographical perspectives similar to those of the research project on the reorganization of physical knowledge.

Olaf Engler , Jürgen Renn

Specific studies are focusing on the fruitful interaction between the philosophy of science and the development of modern physics at the beginning of the twentieth century, with a particular focus on the discussions between Albert Einstein and Moritz Schlick on the physical interpretation of the

Edna Maria Suárez Diaz

Molecular evolution is a discipline born in the late 1960s as a result of the integration of different types of scientific traditions (experimental, theoretical and comparative).

Ursula Klein

This project, which began in January 1999 and was completed in most of its parts by the end of 2001, studies the tools and modes of representing invisible scientific objects in nineteenth- and twentieth-centuries laboratory

Christina Brandt

This project deals with research on “reproduction” in late 19th and 20th century life sciences. “Reproduction” has a variety of meanings: it relates to different ways of propagation and multiplication and it also refers to ways of making things similar or identical.

Jürgen Renn , Jürgen Kocka , Carsten Reinhardt , Florian Schmaltz , Jaromir Balcar , Birgit Kolboske , Felix Lange , Peter Schöttler , Alexander Schwerin , Tom Steinhauser , Ulrike Thoms , Roberto Lalli , Luisa Bonolis , Juan-Andres Leon

The Research Program “History of the Max Planck Society” (Geschichte der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, GMPG) has emerged from Department I and its work in the historical epistemology of scientific institutions.

The research scholars in Department III are:
David Bloor

By the time of the First World War of 1914-18 the aeroplane had become established as an effective and vital piece of technology. Its practical success and potential were beyond doubt but flight posed deep scientific problems. How does a wing generate lift? The answer is by no means obvious.

Valentina Pugliano

This is a study of the role of craftsmen and artisans in the natural historical collections of sixteenth-century Venice and the Veneto, documented primarily through their correspondence and collaboration with the Bolognese naturalist Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522-1605).

Zhang Shuxian

The fashion of endowing official representative halls and private imperial chambers with interior decorations such as ornamented wooden frames started in the Ming at the latest.

Lorraine Daston

Rules—in the form of everything from traffic regulations and government directives to etiquette manuals and parliamentary procedures—structure almost every human interaction.


Andrew Morrall

In 1533, the Ulm artist Martin Schaffner painted a model of the Ptolemaic universe, structured in terms of sequences of sevens - of planets, metals, virtues, liberal arts, days of the week, as well as colors, set withi

Dagmar Schäfer

This working group explores the ways scale and scope factor into the histories of planning.

Aristotelian mechanics remained dominant in Medieval times but was enriched in the 14th century by the work of the Oxford calculatores, who expanded the ancient theory of proportions, and by the Parisian School, which supplemented the Aristotelian theory of qualities with diagrammatic representat

Joseph Dennis

To understand intellectual life and knowledge production, it is critical to examine the circulation of information. In 1996, Timothy Brook published a list of twenty-three core titles in Ming dynasty school libraries.

Christian Joas , Christoph Lehner , Jürgen Renn

Quantum mechanics was established in the 1920s as a foundational theory of modern physics involving substantial conceptual modifications compared to classical

H. Otto Sibum

The turn of the twentieth century is usually described as a crucial moment in the history of the physical sciences. One especially striking issue is the increasing number of techniques for investigating microphysical objects, with x-rays, electrons and radioactivity among the most prominent.

Katy Park

This book will extend the work I did for an article, “Observation in the Margins, 500-1500,” which was commissioned for Lorraine Daston and Elizabeth Lunbeck, eds., Histories of Scientific Observation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).

Lorraine Daston

Commodities, ideas, facts, instruments, texts, techniques, and people all travel—but selectively. Knowledge, both implicit and explicit, does not spread simply because it is true or useful; nor do the paths it takes cover the globe.

Christine von Oertzen


Christine von Oertzen

My study considers the history of educational politics and academic cultures in Central Europe, Britain, the United States, France, and other Atlantic nations. My account opens with the emergence of a new, transnational female academic network in 1917.

Jamie Cohen-Cole

Jamie Cohen-Cole's project was a study of the sciences of human language since World War II.

Gabriela Soto Laveaga

The proposed research examines how scientific ideas about new wheat strains were interpreted, reshaped, and consumed by locals in two different countries.

Albert Presas i Puig (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona)

The aim of this project is to analyse the concrete political and scientific framework in which the scientific and technical relations developed between Germany and Spain in the twentieth century. With this in mind, particular attention is paid to the analysis of the general

Monika Baár

As a participant of the Knowledge and Belief project, my research focuses on the problems of source, evidence, proof and belief in modern historiography.

José Beltran

Traveling naturalists were scholars with inky fingers. In seventeenth- and eighteenth-century France, it was largely through manuscript records, texts, and images alike, that students of nature sought to collect and accumulate information on floras and faunas far afield.

Roy Tzohar

This project explores the procedures and methodologies developed and applied by exegetical cultures with respect to the evaluation of the authenticity, validity, and truth value of scripture as source of knowledge.

Kerry Smith

My project focuses on Japanese scientists' efforts to translate their uncertain knowledge of the risks and hazards that earthquakes posed to the nation into persuasive narratives and effective policies from the early twentieth century to the near present.

Adam Fulton Johnson

Adam Fulton Johnson'S dissertation project investigates encounters between Anglo anthropologists and Pueblo and Navajo Indian communities in the Southwestern United States (1870–1930).

David Aubin

Henri Bénard was a French physicist who performed experiments on fluids for a Collège de France physics course given by Marcel Brillouin at the turn of the century.

Arianna Borrelli

In a series of papers written between 1926 and 1927, Eugene Wigner was the first to employ group-theoretical considerations to interpret the selection rules of atomic spectroscopy.

Katrin Solhdju

Self-experimentation as a practice has always existed in various contexts but it was only at the end of the 18th century that it became fully accepted as a necessary step in pharmaceutical development.

H. Otto Sibum

Generations of historians of science have engaged with the notion of “tacit knowledge” in scientific change.

Scholars in different countries campaigned for the independence of linguistics in the first few decades of the twentieth century. For its independence, they fired at philology.

James Hall

This project examines modes of encounter between humans and snakes from the 1780s to the 1870s, focusing upon Britain and British India, to reassess how knowledge about animals was produced and circulated in the context of empire.

Constance Putnam

The tradition of rural general practice is strong in the United States. Even in the middle years of the twentieth century, many rural doctors worked out of offices in their homes and routinely made house calls.

Liping Song

How much capital did the Ming and Qing dynasties invest in the production of imperial porcelain?

Pamela H. Smith

This paper attempts to trace early modern European theories about the generation of metals and minerals as they emerged out of the physical experience of miners laboring in the earth and were codified and transformed by learned physicians in sixteenth-century Erzgeb

Jochen Büttner

The 16th and 17th centuries saw an ever increasing output of gunner‘s manuals and military treatises.

Stefani Engelstein

In the three sections of Sibling Action, I analyze the essential function of the sibling term in structuring the modern subject (1 chapter), the modern state (2 chapters), and the methodology of the life- and human-sciences (2 chapters).  The first section of the book explores critical t

Tawrin Baker

Ocular anatomy in the sixteenth century has been relatively overlooked.

Monika Wulz

Counting populations and finding ways to explain social strata and their developments have been an object of scientific inquiry and have formed the basis of governmental strategy since the end of the 18th century.

Boris Jardine

This project looked at the proliferation of social data-gathering organisations in the interwar period. It began with an attempt to contextualise Mass-Observation, a British social survey and participant observation movement founded in 1937.

David Hounshell

Between the 1920s and the 1950s, empirical social research developed into a large-scale, institutionalized, and systematized endeavor with a wide range of applications and a diverse set of tools of data collection and analysis.

Kelly J. Whitmer

While material models have long served the communities that deploy them as constructive devices for mediating relationships between the physical world and man’s interventions in it, for negotiating relationships of scale and for building consensus, in the early modern period they were increasingl

Alexandra E. Hui

This monograph project is a history of listening. It takes as its departure point the often-mocked, even hated, music of waiting spaces, that has become more ubiquitous than ever.

Alexandra E. Hui

“Sonifying Space” is a history of listening.

Veit Erlmann

Law is permeated by sound. From auditory forensics to court reporting, oral testimony, or the hearsay doctrine, there is hardly an area of law that does not involve one or another aspect of sound. Sound also forms the subject matter of substantive law.

Sabine von Fischer , Olga Touloumi

The past decade has seen a growing number of studies of sound design and acoustic technologies.

Joeri Bruyninckx

Although scientific work is widely considered a predominantly visual endeavor, sound has been not only an object of scientific investigation but also an epistemic tool.

Zeynep Celik

This project studies a moment of transition in German architectural discourse in the late nineteenth century: an architectural theory that had conventionally relied on style, tectonics, and historicism gave way at this moment to one conceived around the themes of rhythm, bodily movement, and, abo

Sven Dupre , Sean Nelson , Marlise Rijks , Marius Buning , Nadia Sera Baadj , Koenraad Jonckheere

This project investigates the transformation of the artisanal workshop with its changing patterns of circulation, exchange and transmission of knowledge in the early modern period. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries “trading zones” emerged.

The most basic forms of spatial knowledge that are studied in the project are those represented by spatial concepts in non-literate societies.

Matthias Schemmel

The working-group volume Spatial Thinking and External Representation: Towards a Historical Epistemology of Space documenting the research group’s results is currently in preparation. It contains the following contributions:

Sigrid Leyssen

The project has two protagonists: a series of well-preserved paper discs which carry precisely measured curved lines, mostly in red and black; and the experimental psychologist Albert Michotte (1881-1965).

Eileen Reeves - Princeton University

This paper will address the ways in which information about the production of the chiaroscuro woodcut circulated in early modernity.

Paul Erickson

My work explores the development and spread of mathematical theories of rational choice – especially game theory – since the Second World War.

Stefanie Klamm

As an object-based science, classical archaeology has to retrieve objects of investigation not only in the place where they were actually situated but also make them available to a broader scientific discourse often far removed from the physical site.

Eric Vandendriessche

This project compares, through an ethnomathematical approach, two activities carried out by the Northern Ambrym Islanders (Republic of Vanuatu), both of which are locally termed tu (lit. "to write").

Stephan Kammer

The basic idea of graphological knowledge is a rather simple one: by the strokes of his pen, man records significant evidence revealing the secrets of his character and true nature.

Jürgen Renn

The work of the department is dedicated to understanding the historical processes of structural changes in systems of knowledge.

Horst Kant

Radioactivity is one of the subjects, which stimulated the development of quantum physics in early 20th century, and in its progress led to nuclear and particle physics as well.

Daniel Andersson

“Experience and observation triumph in the new science at the expense of the philosophy of the schools in the Renaissance.” In some sense, but we should be alert to a mildly underhand form of semantic slippage that has gone on in scholarship dealing with this issue.

Ina Heumann

My research examines science communication as a cultural, social, and epistemic practice that is shaped by its historical contexts as well as its material and medial conditions.

Tina Asmussen

During the Early Modern Period mining was among the most important economic driving forces, which also had large effects on material culture, perceptions and validations of metallic ores in central European mining regions.

Dan Bouk

In the mid-1950s, the University of Michigan’s Survey Research Center sent out a team of female interviewers to speak to 2,713 women selected to be representative of all married white American women.

Sophie Brockmann

Sophie Brockmann's research concerned networks of scientific knowledge in Central America in the late-colonial period and beyond.

Karsten Lichau

My project is a contribution to the history of listening techniques.

Luis Campos

I am currently engaged in writing a history of the newly emerging field of synthetic biology, an epistemologically provocative disciplinary mixture of engineering, computer science, molecular biology, and artificial life that seeks to redesign living systems to accomplish human-desired functions,

Dagmar Schäfer

My latest interest is examining how and when technology became an 'object of knowledge" in Premodern Chinese Culture.  I am enquiring into methodological concerns on how technology history is pursued and what the Chinese view can contribute to it (Non-European perspectives).

Geert Somsen

In his Marie Curie fellowship project Geert Somsen investigates how science has been promoted as a model for international relations during the first half of the twentieth century.


Jim Bennett - Science Museum, London

There is a common trope among historians of instruments that seamen are incorrigibly reluctant to accept new methods, techniques or tools in navigation.

Anne Secord

The project examines how eighteenth-century imperatives to follow nature actually operated in practice.

Nele Diekmann

In the computer age, they seemingly aren’t used as much anymore in scientific research, but for centuries, paper notebooks were an indispensable tool for intellectual work.

Dagmar Schäfer, Director of Department III and Managing Director of the MPIWG

Paula Tatla Amad

This project explored the role of the archive, as an institution, theme, and formal resource, in French film culture in the post-Second World War period.

Ursula Klein

The systematic and stable interconnection of scientific and technological practices and institutions into a “technoscience” is usually considered as the outcome of developments in the 20th century, with forerunners in the second half of the 19th century.

Sandra Pravica

This project is concerned with tentativity as a philosophical concept. Exploring the works of Gaston Bachelard it aims at determining an epistemology that is “tentative” or “experimental.” In the 1930s Gaston Bachelard chose experimentation as the key topic for epistemological reflection.

Claudia Stein

My project focuses on the political and medical world of one of eighteenth-century Germany’s most powerful states, the electorate of Bavaria. I am particularly interested in the medical reform programme initiated by the country's protomedicus Johann Anton von Wolter (1711-1789).

Michael Bycroft (University of Warwick)

What was the role of expert chemists in evaluating medical cures in early modern Europe? The case of mineral waters in France is a rich source of answers of this question.

Felicity Callard

Stanley Hall, in his famous 1904 monograph on adolescence, argued that “inner absorption and reverie is one marked characteristic of this age of transition”.

Irina Podgorny

In late colonial and post-independence times - in a context of commercial rivalry among French, American, and British interests - maps, manuscripts, and drawings were turned into valued and high priced objects of commerce whose ownership was disputed by many individuals, learned societies and pat

Jochen Büttner

The use of mechanical tools predates any theoretical attempt to explain their function. The oldest known of these attempts date to the time of ancient Greece.

Cecelia Watson

The Anthropocene hypothesis proposes that with the invention of James Watt’s steam engine, the earth entered a new geologic era characterized by an unprecedented level of human intervention in natural processes.

Maria Kronfeldner

Darwin’s explanation of the evolution of species strongly encouraged biologists and others to integrate the human in the natural world as just another animal. Culture has often been used to resist such attempts. Such resistance necessarily presupposes a certain concept of culture.

Wilko Graf von Hardenberg

The Art of Judgement explores how judgements are formed. In focus is the inherently dynamic nature of both assessments and decisions, as they are produced, validated, and redefined through constant processes of mediation and conflict, both synchronically and diachronically.

Stephanie Leitch

This project examines how first-hand observations came to be recorded in images in several printed genres that claimed to reproduce unmediated experience with the world.  Prints in these diverse genres helped cue observations, calibrate sightings, and thus sharpen visual acuity.

Rhodri Lewis

My research project is concerned with the reception and development of the classical arts of memory (mnemotechnics), principally in northern Europe, in the years from about 1500-1700.

Victoria Lee

This project explores how scientists and skilled workers sought to use microbes’ natural processes for making new products. Methods of microbial biosynthesis were ubiquitous in Japan, from miso-making in the kitc

Safia Azzouni

The factual ways by which knowledge travels from the public sphere into a specialized science or an academic discipline have yet to be explored. In this context, popular science is a crucial dynamic factor.

Hannah Lotte Lund

The function of a literary salon as semi-public meeting place for young authors and an interested audience has been widely discussed, and the Jewish salon in Berlin has been interpreted as site of German–Jewish dialogue.

Cathleen Paethe

This project deals with one of the largest private library Dansheng tang of Qi Chenghan (1565–1628) in Shanyin of the Late Ming period (ca. 1550–1644).

Yuriditzi Pascacio-Montijo

The Mexican Revolution (1910) promoted a space for reflection on the status of the Mexican indian, which transformed him as the figure that would justify the political agendas and reshape the model people of the new nation.

Dagmar Schäfer , Tamar Novick

Animals have been central to humans in their attempts to understand their world and in revealing the secrets of nature.

Mirjam Brusius

Mirjam Brusius' project investigated the potential of archeological objects excavated during European expeditions in the Middle East as raw material for scholarly activity and their visual registration in the nineteenth century.

Fernando Vidal , Francisco Javier Guerrero Ortega


Elly Truitt

According to Roger Bacon (b. 1214/1220, d. ca.

Christian de Pee

Imperial officials of the Song Empire (960–1279 CE) confronted a complex, monetized society.

Stefanie Gänger

Stefanie Gänger'S PhD project examined the collecting and study of pre-Hispanic artefacts in nineteenth-century Chile and Peru.

Lorraine Daston , Mechthild Fend , Anke te Heesen , Norton Wise (UCLA)

For the past decade, historians of science and art have noted points of intersection between scientific and artistic ways of rendering the natural world in images.

Jessica Ratcliff

In addition to the cotton, tea, and other well-known commodities of the East India Company’s nineteenth-century cargoes, the company was also trading in serpents. These came in many patterns and several grades: venomous, harmless, common, rare.

Marco Tamborini

The objective of Marco Tamborini's project was to write the first pages of the biography of paleobiological data. He focused on:

Sabine Arnaud , Mara Mills , Raluca Enescu

In this project, Sabine Arnaud studied the construction and diffusion of medical, scientific, and philosophical knowledge on deafness to consider how an infirmity was constructed simultaneously with different areas of competence designed to attend to and possibly eradicate it.

Sabine Arnaud

This Research Group "The Construction of Norms in Seventeenth to Nineteenth-Century Europe and the United States" investigates the epistemological and political processes that led human variations to be seen not as a spectrum of human possibilities, but as reductive binaries that contrapose the n

Benjamin Steininger

Around 1900 the work of catalysts put the chemical industry on new ground.

Peter Damerow († 2011) ; Jörg Kantel ; Imad Samir ; Matthias Schemmel ; Urs Schoepflin ; Christina Tsouparopoulou ; Luděk Vacín, Joerg Kantel , , Matthias Schemmel , Urs Schoepflin , Christina Tsouparopoulou , Luděk Vacín
The CDLI is a common initiative of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and the MPIWG.
Peter Damerow († 2011), Jacob Dahl (University of Oxford), Robert Engund (University of California at Los Angeles), Sarah Köhler (Universität Jena), Manfred Krebernik (Universität Jena), Imad Sami, Marcel Sigrist (Director of École Biblique of Jerusalem), Christina Tsouparopoulou (University of Heidelberg), Luděk Vacín (University of Hradec Králové), Jörg Kantel (MPIWG)

The CDLI is a common initiative of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and the MPIWG.

Joy Rohde

In 2012, the US government committed over $200 million to a Big Data Research Initiative designed to explore how the analysis of massive collections of digital information might do everything from capture terrorists to improve educational outcomes.

Tania Munz

The Dancing Bees is a dual biography that explores the life and work of the experimental physiologist Karl von Frisch (1886-1982) vis à vis his favored research animal, the honeybee, in the context of twentieth-century studies of animals and communication.

Sophie Ledebur

In Germany, studies on "the dark figure"—an estimation of the number of unreported or undiscovered crimes—have recently been made part of large-scale research programs, such as the First and Second Periodical Report on Crime and Crime Control (2001–6), the Victimization of Survey Module (2008–10)

Susanne Pickert

Since the early beginnings of Christianity, Palestine and the sourroundig regions have been regarded as an area of special significance. Pilgrims from the 4th century on were traveling the grounds of the biblical events, visiting places like Jerusalem, Bethlehem or the river Jordan.

Mark Smith

How well was the field of optics understood during the European Middle Ages and Renaissance? And how was that understanding achieved? Until fairly recently, the answer to both questions was sought in the Perspectivist optical tradition that emerged during the late thirteenth century.

Michael McVaugh, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Among the Galenic texts attracting special attention at the end of the thirteenth century was De complexionibus, one of whose features was a crude protocol for determining experimentally the qualitative character and intensity of any given medicine.  This protocol caught the attention of

Michael McVaugh (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

Among the Galenic texts attracting special attention at the end of the thirteenth century was De complexionibus, one of whose features was a crude protocol for determining experimentally the qualitative character and intensity of any given medicine.  This protocol caught the attention of

Simone Turchetti

The project explores the history of scientific studies of the Earth and the environment, especially by examining how the Cold War shaped funding and research trajectories of key European institutions devoted to geophysical research.

Rebecca Wolf

This project focuses on the period between 1830 and 1950, when instruments were being made with a wide variety of materials and the insights of the burgeoning science of experimental acoustics led to novel experiments and innova

Rui Magone

This project searches for the implicit and explicit signs of the incorporation of practical knowledge into the examination system.

Arne Schirrmacher , Milena Wazeck

The collective character of the formulation of quantum physics also met a great variety of discussions, interpretations and reactions from other scientists, amateurs and more or less educated audiences of the press.

Linda Henderson

"The idea of an all-pervading medium is not a wild dream or mere speculation. If we study observed facts we are forced to admit the reality of the aether. The scientist is as sure of the existence of the aether as he is of his own existence."

Sebastian Felten

This project on information processing in 18th and 19th-century mining addresses a fundamental problem of environmental history: how does one conceptualise human-nature interaction if opposing society and nature is as misguided as conflating the two?

Martha Fleming

Studies of display practices in early-modern museums have mainly sprung from careful analysis of eye-witness descriptions and contemporaneous illustrations.

David A. Bello

My project is concerned with the environmental consequences of human interpretations of locust infestation as human behavior (or culture) is conditioned by locust behavior (or ecology) under conditions of early modern uncertainty.

Erika Milam

Typically, we think of evolution as a theory that explains the present in light of the past.

Estelle Blaschke

Photography's ability to record and the reproducabilty of the medium have determined its economic potential, and led to the development of market based on the photographic image.

Elizabeth Neswald

Educational travels and laboratory visits were commonplace events in 19th and early 20th-century physiology. Physiologists traveled to meet colleagues, train in the labs of experts, learn new methods and study new instruments before deciding whether to acquire or build their own.

Michel Janssen , Jürgen Renn , Tilman Sauer , Matthias Schemmel , John Stachel

The four-volume work presents a comprehensive documentation and study of the creation of general relativity, one of the fundamental physical theories of the twentieth century. Volumes 1 and 2 contain the facsimile and transcription of, and a commentary on Einstein's

Sophia Vackimes

As the beginning of the twentieth century, two main technologies with quite diverse tactics and therefore aesthetics seek preeminence in replacing missing body parts.

Sven Dupre

This project investigates the historical roots of the global knowledge society. Its long-term ambition is to contribute to our understanding of the knowledge society in a global context and to gain insights in its development up to today.

Anna Perlina , Jürgen Renn , Margareta Tillberg

To assess the relevance of an investigation of historical processes of globalization for the present situation, a fourth focus of the globalization network is dedicated to the great challenges that humanity faces today when dealing with knowledge.

Helge Wendt , Jürgen Renn

The globalization of knowledge today has reached another level with new potentials emerging, such as the global system of science and the World Wide Web. The migration of scientific knowledge is no longer characterized by the trajectories of individuals, but rather by global social patterns.

Dominique Pestre

My research project from 2012 to 2014 has dealt with the government of techno-sciences and techno-industrial products at various scales since the Second World War.

Robert Casties , Jürgen Renn , Simone Rieger , Urs Schoepflin

The Great Enclosure of Musawwarat es Sufra, one of the major ancient monuments of northern Sudan and inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2011, is a well known but enigmatic complex of temples and other buildings, corridors, ramps and courtyards.

Eric Schatzberg

In this project, I seek to understand critiques of technology after World War II by arguing that technological choices are inherently moral choices.

Alexander Blum , Luisa Bonolis , Giuseppe Castagnetti , Dieter Hoffmann , Martin Jähnert , , , Horst Kant , Roberto Lalli , Christoph Lehner , Jürgen Renn , Arne Schirrmacher

Over the last six years, a central research question addressed in Department I was the process of reorganization and reinterpretation of mechanical knowledge in the course of the quantum revolution from 1900 to 1930.

Nikita Braguinski

The act of composing a musical piece has been linked to notions of inspiration, self-expression, and ingenuity since at least the Romantic period. In contrast, the twentieth century witnessed a wave of digital, algorithmic approaches to music production.

Mara Mills

This project addresses the history of electronic audiometry and its significance for the medicalization of deafness and the definition of “noise” in the telephone system.

Daniela Monaldi

In an increasing number of laboratories since 1995, physicists are creating a new state of matter through a process called Bose-Einstein condensation. Unlike solids, liquids, gases, and plasmas, pure Bose-Einstein condensates did not exist anywhere until eleven years

Alexander Blum , Jürgen Renn , Matthias Schemmel

Lorraine Daston , Tania Munz , Thomas Sturm , Kelley E. Wilder


Monica Aufrecht

My research examines epistemic issues in philosophy of science, as well as ethical issues relating science research and policy to the environment, medicine, disability studies, and issues of distributive justice. 

Lorraine Daston , Fernando Vidal
The human sciences are systematic inquiries into the conduct and creations of human beings.
Susanne Schmidt

My project historicizes the "midlife crisis," which became popular in the United States and, subsequently, globally in the 1970s. A contested concept, it was a site and an instrument for negotiating gender roles.

Sarah Everts

This project examines the history, culture and science of sweat, from the curious—and sometimes dubious—theories about the nature of perspiration to the emergence of personal care products that thwart or mask body odor.

Johan Östling

The purpose of the project is a historical analysis of the ideas of the university that circulated in twentieth-century Germany. The key issue is the way in which the Humboldtian tradition was transformed and how Wilhelm von Humboldt gave direction to the debates.

Fernando Vidal

From the Renaissance to the late 18th-century, the notion of imagination played a crucial role in the assessment of miracles performed by potential saints, and contributed to turn miracles into an epitome of fundamental early-modern epistemological problems.

Jochen Büttner

In the context of the technological development of the early modern period, certain devices, material objects and processes assumed the role of challenging objects for traditional conceptual frameworks of mechanics. Examples are the pendulum, flywheel, and projectile trajectory.

Matthias Schemmel , Irina Tupikova

The study focusses on the relation of astronomical knowledge, cosmological theories and geographical knowledge in ancient times.

Peter Damerow , Matthias Schemmel , Irina Tupikova

A further step in the development of spatial knowledge was initiated by the growth of geographical knowledge due to the expansion of the spaces certain societies inhabited, controlled or explored. As a consequence, a new kind of representation of spatial knowledge occurred, i.

Rafaela Zorzanelli

This research is concerned with the development of current practices in the psychosomatic field that are influenced by the neurosciences.

Peter Damerow

Mesopotamian proto-cuneiform and cuneiform clay tablets written in the time period from the invention of writing (around 3200 B. C.) to the development of Babylonian mathematics in the Old Babylonian period (around 1900–1600 B.

Antonio Becchi , Jochen Büttner , Pietro Daniel Omodeo , Urs Schoepflin , Matteo Valleriani

A series of research activities examines the role of practical knowledge in the development of theoretical mechanics during the early modern period. These activities deal with three questions:

Peter Damerow , Jürgen Renn , Matthias Schemmel

Besides the introduction of geographical coordinate systems, the epistemological problem of the relation between the concepts of matter and space had an impact on the Newtonian concept of space as a container.

Magdalena Zorn

During her visiting research fellowship at the MPIWG, Magdalena Zorn will work on the history of listening.

Luciana Vieira Caliman

The current research concerns the empirical and theoretical constitution of the inattentive individual as a modern and contemporary scientific object, with emphasis on its anthropological, historical and philosophical dimensions.

Hallam Stevens

This project provided two examples of the very specific ways in which data is tied to the technologies and practices of computing and information technologies. The examples suggest that big data cannot exist outside of these computational infrastructures.

Abram Kaplan
The invention of calculus was not a technical advance in an already existing field of
research. Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz saw their respective forms of the calculus as
integrated into their broader programs of inquiry, programs with both philosophical and political
Fanny Kieffer

The Uffizi, emblematic monument of the Florentine Renaissance, are still, in spite of their fame, oddly unknown.

Robert Brain

The project examined the experimental work of the Danish physicist and philosopher Hans Christian Oersted, the well-known discoverer of electromagnetism and pioneer in acoustics and high-pressure physics.

Sven Dierig

Laboratories are not isolated from the world; they have always existed in relation to the space around them. Like universities, museums, hospitals, botanical gardens, and other institutions of scientific research and education, laboratories have been and still are typically located in cities.

Henry M. Cowles

Victorian Britons and their American contemporaries were obsessed with habit.

Rohini Devasher

Astro-Nomads, umbraphiles or shadow lovers, properly applied, one who is addicted to the glory of total solar eclipses, noctcaeladors defined as those with a strong interest in, and psychological attachment to, the night sky.

Erik Heinrichs (Winona State University)

This paper explores the character of medical experimentation through the long history of one seemingly bizarre remedy for plague buboes.  Appearing often and in various versions between 1348 and the eighteenth century, the basic treatment involves placing a live chicken on a poisonous swelling, s

Andre Wakefield

Leibniz worked incessantly between 1679 and 1686 to establish his wind machines in the mines of the Harz Mountains.

Justin Rivest, Johns Hopkins University

My paper follows the fortunes of a single drug—the poudre fébrifuge of the Chevalier de Guiller—through two successive regimes of royal patent medicine licensing and military testing in eighteenth-century France.

Justin Rivest (Johns Hopkins University)

My paper follows the fortunes of a single drug—the poudre fébrifuge of the Chevalier de Guiller—through two successive regimes of royal patent medicine licensing and military testing in eighteenth-century France.

Frank Stahnisch

I am currently working on a new book project, entitled “The Making of a New Research Field: On the Pursuit of Interdisciplinarity in the German Neuromorphological Sciences, 1910-1945,” which aims at reconstructing the important merging tendencies that since the 1910s have brought formerly separat

Viktoria Tkaczyk

The 16th to 19th century represents a period that corresponds to a series of fundamental findings in acoustics.

Hadi Jorati

While in residence at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, I am undertaking a microstudy of the enterprise of the Maragha observatory.

Susan Naquin

This study of the material culture embodied in Chinese temples and their paraphernalia in the late imperial era will try to demonstrate how the North China plain was constituted as a cultural region by the familiarity created not only by an area-wide religious cult but by the local availability o

Jürgen Renn , Matteo Valleriani , Helge Wendt , Sonja Brentjes

The research activity is dedicated to globalization processes in the premodern era. Such processes deal with the vehicles, networks, and mechanisms of knowledge transfer in the Mediterranean world in post-antiquity.

Thomas O. Haakenson

My dissertation, “The Uncultured Eye: Vision, Culture, and the Modern Grotesque,“ focuses on the Germany of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The study is a critical exploration of the relationships among scientific practice, public belief, and artistic engagement.

Lorraine Daston , Fernando Vidal

The conflation of the natural with the normative has counted as a philosophical fallacy for centuries. The oppositions of nomos and physis, is and ought, nature and culture all aim to drive a wedge between the inexorable facts of nature and the human values of ethics and art.

Kelley E. Wilder

Even before the photographic invention was officially announced to the public in 1839, light sensitive materials were already being used to make scientific observations on the spectrum and on the chemical precipitation of metals.

John Christie

Pre-Lavoisian chemistry, maintaining interfaces with physiology, pharmacy, mineralogy, heat and electrical science, and manufacturing, provides analytical access to a broad, qualitatively diverse array of observational practices and their development.

Juliet Odgers

My study brings together a garden and a text by John Evelyn (1620 - 1706). The garden was planted at Sayes Court in Deptford, where Evelyn established his family home on return to England in 1652 from self-imposed exile in Paris.

Sven Dupre

This project studies the long-term development of optics between ca. 1400 and ca. 1700. Its central objects of study are the practices of optics and how these practices – if you wish, the ‘optical life’ - interacted with changing images of the discipline of optics, i. e.

Marco Cardinali

My project seeks to review, update and integrate the research that led to the publication of the university manual Diagnostica Artistica. Tracce materiali per la storia dell´arte e la conservazione (Rome, Fratelli Palombi, 2002 and 2007).

, Volkmar Schüller

The development of mechanics as the result of an interaction of practical knowledge with other forms of knowledge ranging from antiquity to the early modern period finds its parallels in the evolution of optics and music theory as fields of scientific knowledge similarly dependent on the accumula

Thomas Schlich

My project deals with surgical machines and Viennese Modernism, war and dance revues, technologies of objectivity and the standardization of the body.

Samuel Gessner

The planispheric representation, the flat representation of the spherical vault of the heavens and its orbs, had its place among the practices of perspective during the sixteenth century.  True, long before the ‘artificial’ perspective came into vogue with pain

Elizabeth Edwards


Maria Avxentevskaya

The genre of album amicorum, or Stammbuch, or “traveling friendship book,” became popular in mid-sixteenth century in the Protestant circles, where a piece of manu propria advice from Luther or Melanchthon could serve as a collectable rarity and a letter of recommendation.

Dieter Hoffmann

The project aims to document the development of the Physikalisch-Technische Reichsanstalt (Imperial Institute for Physics and Technology / PTR) during the Third Reich.

Jürgen Renn , Simone Rieger , Urs Schoepflin

Focus three concentrates on the encounters between culturally specific knowledge and globalized knowledge.

Danny Trom

Landscape has long been an object of esthetic interest. Painted by artists, chanted by poets, depicted by writers, it remained a way to see the outside world, a way to transfigure outside reality. The mode of existence of landscape was essentially dependent on its artistic transfiguration.

Safia Azzouni

In Europe, popular science books emerged during the second half of the 19th century. They were not only written by scientists who wanted to make their work accessible to a broad public, but also by literary authors.

Safia Azzouni

In Europe, popular science books emerged during the second half of the nineteenth century. They were written not only by scientists who wanted to make their work accessible to a broad public, but also by literary authors.

Ursula Kundert

This project aims at understanding the ways in which the Psalter helped in the Middle Ages to organise dispersed data into a meaningful frame.

Robert Brain

At about the same time as Karl Marx’s 1844 remark that “the forming of the five senses is a labor of the entire history of the world down to the present” many European scientists took upon themselves the task of investigating and transforming human sensory capacities.

Viktoria Tkaczyk

Since the mid 14th century, the north Italian city-states were increasingly subject to the compulsion to civic self-representation. This culture of representation found a suitable medium in the festival, which consolidated a variety of social interests and energies.

Elaine Leong , Amanda Herbert, Lisa Smith, Laurence Totelin

Recipes are deceptively simple: they encourage us to dig beneath and around a seemingly straightforward list of ingredients and directions, provoking conversations about historic foodways, linguistics, scientific praxis, conceptions of race and class, medical breakthroughs, and religious prohibit

Christa Donner

By its nature, the archive is carefully and systematically organized, bringing a sense of structure and order to the chaos of the natural world.

Etienne Benson

The rise of the sciences of biodiversity in the late twentieth century was closely tied to the collection, organization, and dissemination of biological and ecological data.

Grace Yen Shen

My research on the history of science in China attempts to frame technology and natural knowledge as an integral part of broader socio-cultural processes. At the heart of this work is the idea of innovation.

Camille Creyghton

The starting point of this research project is the recent work on the role of epistemic virtues in science practices and the formation of scientific or scholarly persona, such as by Lorraine Daston (2003 and 2007), Conal Condren (2006), and Ian Hunter (2007).

Uljana Feest

In the years preceding and following WWI, the European capitals (Berlin, Vienna, Prague) were rife with social, political, cultural, and scientific movements.

Sofie Lachapelle

The project is related to the development of psychology in France and the ways in which the theories, social organization, and physical structures came together to produce a new scientific discipline during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Alexander Blum , Luisa Bonolis , Roberto Lalli , Christoph Lehner , Jürgen Renn , Matthias Schemmel , Dirk Wintergrün

In the century following Einstein's ultimate formulation in 1915, the general theory of relativity has evolved from a revolutionary mathematical theory with limited contact with the empirical world to an observationally and experimentally based cornerstone of modern physics and cosmology.

Jürgen Renn , Matthias Schemmel

The emergence of general relativity is studied focusing, first, on the work of Albert Einstein and, second, on the largely unexplored history of alternative approaches to the problem of gravitation in late classical physics.

Domenico Bertoloni-Meli


Anna Marie Roos

Before Newton’s seminal work on the spectrum, seventeenth-century English natural philosophers such as Robert Boyle, Robert Hooke, Nehemiah Grew and Robert Plot attributed the phenomenon of color in the natural world to salts and saline chymistry.

Jamie Cohen-Cole

Children are scientists and scientists are children. This is a central operating paradigm of developmental psychology.

This project has investigated a problem that has hardly received attention from historians: the emergence of the scientific study of human walking in the fi rst decades of the nineteenth century in western societies (particularly France, Germany and Britain).

Florence Hsia

This project seeks to understand the process by which particular modes of knowledge-making coelesced around an object of study – “China” – that was itself under construction.

Lorraine Daston , Elena Aronova , Christine von Oertzen , David Sepkoski , Fernando Vidal

"Data" (literally, "the givens") is perhaps the most taken-for-granted word in all the sciences: short and unpretentious, it expresses the simplest and apparently most straightforward elements of empirical research.

Lorraine Daston , H. Otto Sibum

The goal of this project was to introduce the concept of persona to the history of science, by showing how it can be fruitfully deployed in diverse periods, locales, and disciplines.

Marie-Noelle Bourguet


Yuzhen Guan

The aim of this project is to investigate the theories of solar and lunar eclipses in early China and Mesopotamia. Solar and lunar eclipses are important astronomical phenomena in both civilizations.

Jacob K. Habinek

It has long been asserted that changing political and social conditions during the early nineteenth century played an important role in first encouraging the sciences to take the form of specialized academic disciplines, particularly in the case of the German universities.

Per Wisselgren

The aim of Per Wisselgren's project was to analyze the discursive formation of Swedish social science in the historical context of the ”social question,” i.e., the lengthy, broad-ranging, and international discussions in which the social problems of Western modernity were conceptualized from the

Olaf Engler , Jürgen Renn

Since the beginning of the twentieth century, reflection on science tended to be separated into four branches: a philosophical-normative branch, a historical-descriptive branch, a political-pragmatic branch, and a anthropological-ontological branch.

Lino Camprubi

The movie Das Boot followed the fictional German submarine U-96 as its captain tried to sail from the Atlantic into the Mediterranean to assist in the 1942 war effort.

Staffan Müller-Wille (University of Exeter)

The human and life sciences underwent a fundamental revolution in the first half of the twentieth century, which this project aims to describe. Referring to this revolution as the “structural turn” alludes to what has become known as “structuralism” in the humanities.

Staffan Mueller-Wille

The human and the life sciences experienced a fundamental revolution in the first half of the twentieth century, that this project aims to describe. Referring to this revolution as the "structural turn" alludes to what has become known as "structuralism" in the humanities.

Daniel Stolzenberg

The study of amulets (magical objects typically marked with characters or symbols and believed to attract favors or repel dangers) occupies a surprisingly important place in European intellectual history.

Sven Dupre , Marco Cardinali , Hanna Hoelling

This project writes a history of the practice of the study of ‘technique’ in the visual and decorative arts between 1500 and 1950.

Marga Vicedo-Castello

In this project I examine the methods used by students of animal behavior in the context of their historical development. I concentrate on Niko Tinbergen’s and Konrad Lorenz’s ethological approach to animal behavior.

Anna Schönemann

Motivated by the enthusiasm for the East Asian Lacquer art a new tendency occurred in the French rococo to make bright varnishes with a high brilliance. They were used as so-called European lacquer (oil-resin varnishes) applied mainly on precious interior decorations and furniture.

Klaus Taschwer

In summer 1926 one of the bigger scientific scandals in the first half of the last century broke. US zoologist G. Kinsley Noble claimed in an article published by the British journal “Nature” that the last remaining specimen of Paul Kammerer‘s midwife toad had been manipulated.

Bin Xu

My project for the Local Gazetteers workshop (July 2017) is to collect and analyze the information on "making Mount South as the Front Gate".

Jürgen Renn , Matthias Schemmel

This research project analyzes the intercultural transmission of geometrical knowledge and its impact on culturally-specific notions of space.

Vincent Ramillon

The field of research that came to be known as “genomics” emerged in the 1980s from various initiatives dedicated to the genetic or physical mapping of chromosomes and to DNA sequencing.

J. V. Field

The use of perspective in the visual arts, that is the application of optical knowledge to convey a sense of depth in flat pictures or of increased depth in low relief sculpture, seems to resemble other craft practices.

Matthias Schemmel

The mathematical tools that were further developed or originated in the medieval scholastic tradition, such as the theory of proportions or the diagrammatic representation of change usually associated with the name of Nicolàs Oresme, constituted an important precondition for the mathematical trea

Paul Hills

Venetian painting around 1500 is marked by a distinctive geometry and a special regard for light which may, at least in part, be explained by reference to the repeated presence in Venice of the mathematician Luca Pacioli.

Sven Dierig , Henning Schmidgen , Julia Kursell

The Virtual Laboratory (VL) is a digitalization project devoted to the history of the experimentalization of life. Its main focus is the interaction between the life sciences, arts and architecture, media and technology. It consists of two related parts, an archive and an essay section.

Christian Reiß

Organisms ranging from unicellular protozoans to human beings have long been the objects of study in the life sciences. What changed over time was the focus of intellectual interest and therefore the methods of research.

Qun Che

The WebGIS Platform of Historical Maps of China, conducted by history department of Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTUMAPGIS), is a combined GIS system and historical scholarship on historical maps of China, which is to geo-reference scanned maps by ArcGIS and release them for public use.

Sabine Arnaud

What were the processes that led medical writers to create the category of hysteria in the eighteenth century and thereby to define an area of competence specific to medical knowledge?

Viktoria Tkaczyk

The establishment of the discipline of architectural acoustics is generally attributed to the physicist Wallace Clement Sabine, who developed the formula for reverberation time around 1900, and with it the possibility of making calculated prognoses about the acoustic potential of a particular des

Viktoria Tkaczyk

The establishment of the discipline of architectural acoustics is generally attributed to the physicist Wallace Clement Sabine, who developed the formula for reverberation time around 1900, and with it the possibility of making calculated prognoses about the acoustic potential of a particular des

Work in Department III is organized around themes that construct an agenda for research work over a number of years. Themes examine the relation, tension and interaction of "Artefacts, Action, and Knowledge" at close quarters and from many angles.

Tara Abraham

The use of methods from the exact sciences in biology during the twentieth century, entailing issues of the disciplinary authority of physics, the reduction of biological phenomena to physical terms, and the autonomy of biology, has been a topic of interest in both the history and philosophy of b

Angela Matyssek

This research project focuses on the theoretical and practical ‘survival’ of artworks, including case studies of works by artists such as Dieter Roth, Duane Hanson, Barnett Newman and Joseph Beuys.

Olaf Engler , Jürgen Renn

Toward the beginning of the twentieth century, different theories of rationality emerged as a result of the reflection on science in the making.

Sarah Igo

In the 1970s, citizens in the United States first mobilized around what they had known, in low-grade fashion, since at least the 1930s: that many agencies, public and private, were collecting information about them.

Anne Gerritsen

Therapeutic commodities—goods considered valuable for the improvement of health—have local as well as global histories. Examples of commodities—tea, ginger, rhubarb—that straddle the boundary between food and medicine abound, and all these have both global circulations and local meanings.

Richard Kremer

This project explored the epistemological significance of the “table” for Western astronomical practice over a period of two millennia.

Glenn W. Most , Dagmar Schäfer , Mårten Söderblom Saarela

This working group brings together around a dozen historians and philologists with diverse kinds of linguistic expertise to discuss the relation between plurilingualism and the creation and reception of monolingual and plurilingual texts in various Eurasian societies.

Laura Otis

Debates about how people think can lead to angry, emotional stand-offs as people defend what they regard as crucial aspects of their identities.

Viktoria Tkaczyk

Today, supersonic speed is defined as the speed of an object in relation to the speed of sound in the same medium.

Mai Wegener

The well-known poet Paul Valéry (1871-1945), the neuroscientist Kurt Goldstein (1878-1965) and the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan (1901-1981) are less known as thinkers who also elaborated on epistemological questions.

Katarina Nordstroem

My project concerns Swedish land-use planning between 1966 and 1972, and it focuses on a national land-use plan created with the stated goal of eliminating future conflicts between industry and environmental interests.

Designed to appeal to consumer needs and desires while meeting regulatory standards, in domestic technologies individual and community planning intersect. California householders equip their homes to lead a comfortable, efficient life-style independent of the wider world.
Carla Bittel

This project examines how phrenological practices depended on paper, or rather, on a system of paper.

Alexander Rehding

Unbeknown to most people, in 1834, a tax collector, hobby astronomer, and musician proposed a revolutionary music theory that promoted digital principles of sound production. Friedrich Wilhelm Opelt (1794–1863) may be the most important music theorist you have never heard of.

Daniel Rosenberg

The twenty-first century is a century of data. Our lives are tangled in webs of data, and tools for creating, storing, communicating, and manipulating this data have grown more sophisticated and ubiquitous. Even our self-understanding is mediated by data-analytic techniques.

Catherine Herfeld

With the beginning of the Cold War, the ‘rationality-principle’ gained extraordinary prominence not only in American social sciences, but also amongst philosophers, mathematicians and statisticians, computer scientists, and operations researchers.

Hilde de Weerdt

This project analyses the social, thematic, spatial, and temporal dimensions of information exchange in imperial China through the quantitative and qualitative analysis of Song Dynasty (960-1279) notebooks (biji).

Angelika Messner

My research is largely concerned with the question of how knowledge relates to practice in Chinese History.

Antonio Becchi , Peter Damerow , Ernst-Wilhelm Osthues , Jürgen Renn , Simone Rieger , Dagmar Schäfer , Matthias Schemmel , Urs Schoepflin , Matteo Valleriani

The Werner Oechslin Library in Einsiedeln/Switzerland chiefly assembles source texts on architectural theory and related areas in original editions extending from the 15th to the 20th century. Over 50,000 volumes document related developments in the context of humanities and science.

Jürgen Renn , Antonio Becchi , Pietro Daniel Omodeo

Anhand der Entwicklung theoretischer und praktischer Mechanik von der Antike bis zur Entstehung des mechanischen Weltbildes analysiert das Teilprojekt Prozesse, die mit der Transformation von Wissen einhergehen.

Pietro Daniel Omodeo

This project investigates, from an epistemological and historical perspective, the forms of transmission, innovation and canonisation of astronomical and cosmological knowledge from the ancient world to the early modern era.

Volker Roelcke

In the development of medical techniques and therapeutic agents, the transfer of knowledge produced in animal “models” to experimental settings involving humans is a crucial step.

My research focuses on documents about medical drugs in Russia between 1550 and 1750. Official Russian medicine of this period was imported, with medical practitioners, texts and supplies coming, in particular, from Germany, the Netherlands and England.

Hansjakob Ziemer

This project is dedicated to exploring the links between the history of the feuilleton and knowledge production from the end of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th.

Elaine Leong , Tara Alberts (University of York), Elma Brenner (Wellcome Library London), Sandra Cavallo (Royal Holloway), Sietske Fransen (University of Cambridge)

In recent years, translation (broadly defined) has emerged as a central research strand. Explorations of the epistemic process and impact of knowledge translation across linguistic, geographical, spatial boundaries are crucial in our understandings of knowledge making.

Jürgen Renn , Simone Rieger , Urs Schoepflin , Dagmar Schäfer

There is an ongoing scientific cooperation of Max Planck Institutes with the Mongolian Academy of the Sciences and the National University of Mongolia.
The central theme is the transliteration and transfiguration of cultural traditions and their significance in the historic development

Sylvie Neven

In the Middle Ages and Pre-Modern Period, artisanal knowledge was transmitted via collections of recipes often grouped concomitantly with alchemical texts and instructions.

Elaine Leong

When Edward Conway, Viscount Conway and Kiluta retired to Petworth in 1650, he began a weekly correspondence with his nephew Sir Edward Harley. The letters cover a variety of topics from books to religion to contemporary politics to household organization and affairs.

Evan Ragland (University of Alabama Huntsville)

Leiden University boasted one of the most popular and influential medical schools of the mid-seventeenth century, drawing hundreds of students yearly from across Europe.

Fanny Gribenski

Although now commonly adopted as the point of reference for musicians in the Western world, “A” 440hz only became the standard pitch during an international conference held in London in 1939.

Courtney Fullilove

Climate change and the late twentieth-century globalization of the food supply have provoked renewed concern about the ability or inability of local, regional, and national communities to feed themselves. Human beings survive on a handful of cereal crops.

Veronika Lipphardt , Jenny Bangham , Samuel Coghe, Alexandra Widmer

Research Group Leader Veronika Lipphardt has taken up a new position at the University of Freiburg (June 2015) and the Research Group has ended.

Luciana Kind

This project discusses medical technology achievements of the twentieth century, which enabled a scientific interdisciplinary debate to redefine death, and the consequences for the notion of “human being”.

Floris Solleveld

There is a substantial and growing literature on the formation of the ‘modern scholar’ and the corresponding ethos and scholarly persona in the late 18th and 19th century. What is lacking, however, is an analysis of the different forms and stages of this process.

Christof Windgätter

In our culture the production, distribution and evaluation of printed texts is still a central aspect of science. Despite new printing technologies, a major part of our scientific memory is archived, managed, reworked and handed down in the form of printed matter.


Pietro Daniel Omodeo

This paper is an assessment of Renaissance scholars’ views of the practical embedment of astronomy.

Teru Miyake

Teru Miyake's project focused on the problem of underdetermination, particularly in cases where the object of investigation is inaccessible to scientists in some way.

Marta Hanson

When Chinese authors included diagrams of hands with characters inscribed on them in their books, they used the hand as a tu 圖 — a diagram, map, illustration, or chart.

Sabina Leonelli

This project aimed to provide a philosophical framework through which the current emphasis on data-intensive biology, and more generally the role played by data in scientific inquiry, can be studied and understood.

Marjolijn Bol

Since antiquity, the emerald has been one of the most precious stones money could buy. It was prized for its lush green colour, its saturated translucency, its hardness and rarity.

Wilko Graf von Hardenberg

This project looks at the historical development of the reference points, baselines, and terms we currently use to track and describe anthropogenic environmental change.

Fokko Jan Dijksterhuis

A myriad of theories to account for color phenomena were in circulation in the early seventeenth century. The status, goal and content of these ideas differed as did the range of phenomena they addressed.

Cathy Gere

Cathy Gere's project investigated the history of the science of pleasure and pain, from the aftermath of the French Revolution to the time of the Watergate scandal.

Ursula Klein

Beginning in the 1760s, reformers in the Prussian State administration in Berlin organized the establishment of technical departments, such as a department of mining and smelting works, a department of civil architecture and a department of forestry.


Karin Krauthausen

The influence of the French author and poet Paul Valéry extends far beyond literature. His writings concern issues and discoveries in the arts and natural sciences and reflect on political developments and historical events.

Mary Fissell (Johns Hopkins University), Elaine Leong

By the mid-seventeenth century, London printers and booksellers offered the English reading public a wide array of vernacular medical books.

Hannah Murphy

This project looks at vernacular texts in early modern Germany, medical pamphlets, bestselling Arzneybuecher (collections of remedies) and manuals for Galenic medicine, against the more complete context of the learned world of medical knowledge.

Robert Casties , Julia Damerow , Dirk Wintergrün

In 2005, the MPIWG created the virtual Albert Einstein exhibition. This virtual exhibition made the content of the “real” 2005 Albert Einstein exhibition available online.

Sonja Brentjes , Dagmar Schäfer , Jürgen Renn

This image database invites research on multiple forms and formats of visualizing the heavens, from deities to demons and from stars to weather phenomena.

Sietske Fransen

When all else fails, we turn to the instruction manual. However, the experience can be frustrating. Making the leap from text to practice represents an age-old problem which this project addresses from a historical perspective.

Boris Michel

Visuality and visual representation in the modern sciences and their role for the production of scientific knowledge are widely debated within the history of science and science studies.

Ashley West

Hans Burgkmair was a leading painter and designer of woodcuts working in Augsburg, which along with Albrecht Dürer’s Nuremberg became one of the primary commercial centers of the Holy Roman Empire.

Felix Rietmann

My project inquires into a long-standing but largely unexplored historical affinity between the practice and medium of film on the one hand, and the scientific and medical study of the young child’s mind on the

Thomas Ebke

The dissertation systematically compares the historical epistemology of Georges Canguilhem (1904-1995) with the philosophical anthropology of Helmuth Plessner (1892-1985).


Simon Werret

What were the gendered conventions and practices associated with the use of waste paper in mathematics and chemistry in the early modern period? Scholars often used scraps of paper for calculations and to record receipts. This project will consider scraps as a

Simon Werrett

What were the gendered conventions and practices associated with the use of waste paper in mathematics and chemistry in the early modern period? Scholars often used scraps of paper for calculations and to record receipts.

Historical scholarship is commonly thought of as consisting of texts generated by individual scholars to be read by other scholars.

Peter Damerow , Malcolm Hyman , Jürgen Renn , Matteo Valleriani

The Collaborative Research Center (CRC) – in German, Sonderforschungsbereich (SFB) – 644, "Transformations of Antiquity", brings together personnel from ten humanities disciplines at the Humboldt University in Berlin, from two departments of the Free University in Berlin, and from the Max Planck

Every activity, even the most humble, involves an element of planning, a process of negotiating knowledge and action that aims to make things work: an objective is identified; possibilities and constraints are considered; materials, skills, tools, and techniques are allocated; thoughts and things

Fuqiang Li

The parts of Qin Ding Shou shi tong kao 欽定授時通考 (Ortai et al. 1742) and Tian gong kai wu 天工開物 (Song YingXing 1637) dealing with sericulture were translated into French by Professor Stanislas Julien in 1837.

Richard L. Kremer - Dartmouth College

As is well known, early typographic printers generally issued texts that had long circulated in manuscript. The broadside almanac, however, emerged as a genre, starting in the 1460s, only with the advent of print culture.

Ana Maria Gomez Lopez
Pablo Ariel Pellegrini

In 1912, Alfred Wegener, a German climatologist and geophysicist, made public his theory about Pangea. He suggested that in a remote past there was a supercontinent, Pangea, which broke up around 200 million years ago, and that the pieces drifted to give place to present continents.

Francesca Bray, Georg Freise

In the 1800s, the British laid plans for growing tea in Assam to substitute for expensive imports from China.

Carla Bittel

In 1848, on the cover of the American Phrenological Journal, the firm of Fowlers and Wells instructed readers to turn the page and henceforth, “know thyself.” Using this ancient Greek aphorism, phrenologists drew in men and women alike with the promise of understanding themselves and others.

Kathleen Vongsathorn

My project explores the role of gender in the perception, spread, and adaptation of biomedicine and biomedical knowledge in twentieth-century Uganda.

Ian Matthew Miller

This project examines the role that institutions played in mediating social and environmental change in the forests of early modern China.

Organizers: Rivka Feldhay (Tel Aviv University, Israel), Jamil Ragep (McGill University, Canada)

The project aims to investigate the encounter and cross-fertilization among the Eastern and Western learning traditions that constituted astronomical knowledge in the century before Copernicus and had an impact on his work.

Hansjakob Ziemer , Julia Kursell

The broad domain of acoustics that emerged in academic life throughout the modern era is usually categorized as part of the natural sciences.

Lorraine Daston , Fernando Vidal , Michael Gordin


Kelley Wilder and Gregg Mitman

Archives composed of photographs or film span the scope of human history: these are archives as intimate as the family shoebox and as vast as the world’s microfilm holdings.

Sven Dupre , Doris Oltrogge, Anna Marie Roos, Simon Werrett, Tawrin Baker, Barbara Berrie, Fokko Jan Dijksterhuis, Romana Filzmoser, Karin Leonhard, Andrew Morrall

In recent years color has become the focus of scholarly discussion on the interactions between art, craft, science and technology.

Fernando Vidal , Nelia Dias

The notion of endangerment stands at the heart of a network of concepts, values, and practices dealing with entities threatened by disappearance, and with the devices, such as archives, catalogs, or databases, aimed at preserving them.

Philipp Nicolas Lehmann , Lino Camprubi

Viewing the earth from a spaceship—or looking at the pictures taken from one—the observer can visualize the wholeness of our planet as well as the interconnectedness of its ostensibly disparate parts.

Sven Dupre

In the early modern period, as today, gems were the ultimate ‘hybrid objects.’ They played key roles in decorative art, global trade, and science and medicine.

Elena Aronova , Christine von Oertzen , David Sepkoski

Since the late twentieth century, huge databases have become a ubiquitous feature of science, and Big Data has become a buzzword for describing an ostensibly new and distinctive mode of knowledge production. Some observers have even suggested that

Lorraine Daston , Kelley E. Wilder


Pamela H. Smith

Global historians have noted the burgeoning commerce and increasing global economic integration of the early modern world, especially with regard to the trade in precious metals and luxury commodities across long-distance commercial networks.

Christine von Oertzen , Grégoire Chamayou

Archives are apparatuses of socialized memory, organizational tools of memorizing and remembering. The aim of this project is to study the history of their machinery, to consider them as operating systems, in their very functioning.

Lorraine Daston

Was the efflorescence of natural law in both European jurisprudence and natural philosophy from circa the mid-sixteenth through the mid-eighteenth centuries merely a coincidence?

Sven Dupre

This working group addresses the production and circulation of optical knowledge in workshop and design practices of the visual and decorative arts and (garden) architecture between the fourteenth and seventeenth century.

Lorraine Daston

History is built into the natural and human sciences at different levels: some disciplines, such as geology and archeology, deal with phenomena that are intrinsically historical; others, such as sociology and mathematics, use their own disciplinary genealogies to create canons of classical texts

Viktoria Tkaczyk , Rebecca Wolf

Bells, stringed instruments, theater auditoria, pistols, phonographs, and synthesizers have a long history that is deeply entangled with the production of knowledge, science, and cultural heritage.

Alexandra E. Hui , Viktoria Tkaczyk , Mara Mills

What are the boundaries of hearing? By what parameters has hearing been measured and defined? From individuals to populations, humans to plants to whales—Who and what have been the subjects of hearing tests? When does hearing become feeling?

Anthony Grafton , Glenn W. Most

The creation of canons of written texts – religious, literary, philosophical, scientific – is a feature of numerous literate cultures from ancient times to the present.

Matteo Valleriani , Helge Wendt

Subject and Objectives of the Working Group 

Practical knowledge is the knowledge needed to obtain a certain product, for instance, artistic or mechanical artifacts or a certain defined output such as healing practices that follow an established series of actions.

Carla Bittel , Elaine Leong , Christine von Oertzen

Historians of science and medicine have been exploring the materials used for knowledge production by examining the tools of observation, data collection, and knowledge transmission.

Working groups are dedicated, at different levels of detail, to gathering together scholars interested in specific issues within the larger theme of planning.

Jochen Büttner , Robert Casties , Klaus Thoden , Josef Willenborg , Dirk Wintergrün

This project aims to support the implementation of some of the key Epistemic Web concepts.

Jochen Büttner , Robert Casties , Klaus Thoden , Jorge Urzua , Josef Willenborg , Dirk Wintergrün

This project aims to support the implementation of some of the key Epistemic Web concepts.

Helge Wendt , Nadin Hée, Freie Universität Berlin, Franz Mauelshagen, IASS

Organic and inorganic resources have provided and continue to provide the foundations for the development of human societies. Yet the processes and mechanisms through which knowledge about their use and exploitation co-evolved with societal praxis over centuries are very much context related.

Joeri Bruyninckx

Over the twentieth century, managers and employees alike became increasingly concerned with workers’ rhythms, postures, and movements; their internal states; and their capacities for focus, attention, and information processing.

Benjamin Wilson

This project follows concepts, practices, and experts as they traveled across the boundaries drawn by national security and secrecy in the Cold War.

Matthias Schemmel

The research activity is devoted to the analysis of a unique source of ancient Chinese thinking, the so-called Mohist Canon, written around 300 B. C.

Yvonne Wübben

Up to the present day, clinical teaching is by far not the most important means of transmitting psychiatric knowledge. In different stages of professional training knowledge is mainly conveyed and shaped through textbooks.

Sven Dupre , Sylvie Neven , Mark Clarke , Jaya Remond , Karin Leonhard , Daniel Jaquet

This project studies the role of written transmission and circulation of knowledge in the early modern artist’s workshop and beyond. Knowledge of artist’s materials and their preparation and manipulation was transmitted in collections of recipes.


Andrew Warwick

The project explores changing perceptions of disease and the body following the introduction of a new physics-based technology, x-rays, in Germany in 1896.

Longfei Chu

In the late Ming dynasty, the Jesuit missionaries first introduced European science into China, and the scientific exchanges between the Jesuits and Chinese literati commenced.