Visiting Scholar (Sep 2019-Okt 2019)
Sebastian Felten is a historian of finance, bureaucracy, and science in early modern Europe. A Research Scholar in Dept. II from 2015 to 2018, he is now a lecturer (Universitätsassistent) in History of Science at the University of Vienna. His current work is focused on Central German mining as a site of intensive exchange between the emerging earth and technical sciences, and state administrations. Central to this investigation are questions regarding unequal relationships within this knowledge economy: Which observations counted as reliable data? How were relevant experiences stored and reactivated for later use? Whose expertise was valued, and whose rejected? By comparing and contrasting commercial, scientific and administrative "fact-keeping," this project contributes to a broadening discussion about the ways in which individuals and groups used information technology—paper-based or otherwise—to engage with a complex social and natural environment.
Sebastian’s project builds on a study of historical accounting practices carried out as part of his PhD at King’s College, London (“Unlikely Circuits: General Monetisation of a European Rural Society, c. 1700–1900,” supervised by Anne Goldgar and Francisco Bethencourt).
Sebastian has also worked for the German Historical Institute (GHI) in London as part of the digital edition project “Pauper Letters and Petitions for Poor Relief in Germany and Great Britain, 1770–1914,” where he supervised the transcription and input of metadata, liaised between IT and researchers, designed the user interface with the programmer, and developed a keen interest in Digital Humanities.