Since its development in economic history, the notion of ‘Useful Knowledge’ has found wide resonance in very diverse fields, engaging scholars working on codified knowledge and scientific practices, material culture and technological innovation, experimentation and policy issues. This preprint presents some of the contributions on this theme delivered at the workshop ‘The Making of Useful Knowledge’ (MPIWG Berlin, 30–31 October 2014).
The meeting aimed at problematizing the apparently coherent picture of useful knowledge that has arisen out of the works of economic historians like Joel Mokyr, and at testing and evaluating the employment of notions of usefulness in the longue durée, moving away from a specific focus on pre-industrial economic growth. Because of this diachronic approach, case studies spanned from the early modern period to the twentieth century.
This volume collects an introduction and six essays by Karel Davids, Jonathan Harwood, Ursula Klein, Thomas Morel, Giuditta Parolini and Cesare Pastorino. Topics of these contributions range from commercial accounting, plant breeding and maritime technology, to mining, mineralogy and applied statistics. The workshop ‘The Making of Useful Knowledge’ was organized by Thomas Morel, Giuditta Parolini and Cesare Pastorino as part of the activities of the Berlin Center for the History of Knowledge.