People

Dagmar Schäfer

Director (Since 2013)

Dr., Professor, TU Berlin, FU Berlin, Shanghai Jiao Tong University

Dagmar Schäfer's main interest is the history and sociology of technology of China, focusing on the paradigms configuring the discourse on technological development, past and present. She has published widely on the Premodern history of China (Song-Ming) and technology, materiality, the processes and structures that lead to varying knowledge systems, and the changing role of artifacts—texts, objects, and spaces—in the creation, diffusion, and use of scientific and technological knowledge. Her monograph The Crafting of the 10,000 Things (University of Chicago Press, 2011) won the History of Science Society: Pfizer Award in 2012 and the Association for Asian Studies: Joseph Levenson Prize (Pre-1900) in 2013. Her current research focus is the historical dynamics of concept formation, situations, and experiences of action through which actors have explored, handled and explained their physical, social, and individual worlds.

Dagmar Schäfer is Honorary Professor, History of Technology, Technical University, Berlin; Adjunct Professor, Institute of Sinology, Freie Universität, Berlin; and Guest Professor at the School of History and Culture of Science, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and Tianjin University (2018–2021). She received her doctorate from the University of Würzburg as well as her habilitation in the history of China and science. She has worked and studied at the University of Zhejiang PR China, Beijing University PR China, Hsinchu University RoChina, the University of Pennsylvania USA. and the University of Manchester UK among others.

Projects

Accounting for Uncertainty: Prediction and Planning in Asian History

MEHR

Infrastructural Research Initiatives, Sources in Sciences' Histories (IRISSH)

MEHR

Local Gazetteers

MEHR

Moving Crops and the Scales of History

MEHR

Multimedia and the History of Science/Sound of Silk Film Project

MEHR

Rare Local Gazetteers at Harvard-Yenching Library: An Open Access Collection

MEHR

Reader Project in the History of Science

MEHR

RISE and SHINE: Research Infrastructure for the Study of Eurasia

MEHR

Cultural Traditions of Technical Knowledge

MEHR

Geographies of Knowing: China Historical GIS

MEHR

Knowledge Transmission

MEHR

Media and Methods of Practical Knowledge Transmission: Craftsmanship and the Qing Court

MEHR

Monumentalized or Marginalized, Writings about Technology in Chinese History: A Database

MEHR

Systems, Tools, and Artifacts: Technology Transmission in Premodern China

MEHR

Selected Publications

Schäfer, D., Zhao, L., & Lackner, M. (Eds.). (2019). Accounting for Uncertainty: Prediction and Planning in Asian History. Berlin: Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte.

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Schäfer, D., Siebert, M., & Sterckx, R. (2019). Knowing animals in China's history: an introduction. In R. Sterckx, M. Siebert, & D. Schäfer (Eds.), Animals through Chinese history: earliest times to 1911 (pp. 1-19). Cambridge: Cambridge…

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Schäfer, D. (2019). Things (wu) and their transformations (zaowu) in the late Ming Dynasty: Song Yingxing's and Huang Cheng's approaches to mobilizing craft knowledge. In P. H. Smith (Ed.), Entangled itineraries: materials, practices, and knowledges…

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Schäfer, D. (2018). Mobilities studies, a transdisciplinary field. Transfers, 8(1), VII-X. doi:10.3167/TRANS.2018.080101.

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Institute Events

Weather Events or Climate Change? Yuan Dynasty, Local Gazetteers, and Sericulture

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Symposium

25 Years of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science

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Symposium

The Artist-Silkworm Interface: The Agricultural Treatise as Source and Scrutiny for Creating an Artist Book

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Kolloquium

Thematic Cluster: Crafts and Innovation

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Books

Presentations, Talks, & Teaching Activities

Panel: “Empires, Exchange and Civilizational Connectivity in Eurasia”

ENIUGH Congress, Budapest, Hungary

ENIUGH
Keynote address: Politics and Scientific Change in Dynastic China, at Knowing Nature: The Changing Foundations of Environmental Knowledge,

Renmin University, Beijing, China

Dynastic Knowledge and the Knowledge of Dynasties: Politics and the History of Scientific Change in China

Columbia University, New York, USA

The Center for Science and Society
A Cosmos of Silkworms: Textiles and Knowledge Of Nature From 12th-14th Century China

Princeton University, USA

East Asian Studies Program