Jun 21, 2019
Solstice Celebrations: Ein Fest für Raine Daston
- Dept. Daston
We took the summer solstice 2019 as an occasion to mark Raine Daston’s retirement as Department II’s director with a splendid party. More than 250 of Department II’s former members and colleagues from across the institute came to express their gratitude to Raine Daston—for her scholarly inspiration, her engaging leadership, and her unabated patience as a mentor. She has made Department II a hallmark in the History of Science. More than one thousand scholars of all career stages thrived within its walls, and in turn enriched it, enhancing our field and the lives of all and each that have had the privilege of being part of it.
Our 90-minute program unfolded Raine-style, with short speeches and musical interludes, sequences in which every word—or tune—had to be well-chosen to convey in the briefest possible yet engaging way what needed to be said. Thank you, speakers, musicians, lyricists, and singers for turning our program into an extraordinary event—high on auditory and visual spectacle! The talks, musical performances, and our exercise in collective empiricism yielding 107 Variations on the Unexpected took Raine by complete surprise.
Prepared as a clandestine operation, our Solstice Celebrations were the work of many people—in fact, the work of all people present on that Friday, and many more! Whether from across the hall or traveling from Sydney and LA, from Tel Aviv, Sevilla, Basel, from London, Munich, and Princeton, from Paris and Cambridge (Mass. and UK), from Oxford and Philadelphia, from Barcelona, Uppsala, Vienna, and Amsterdam: thank you for keeping our preparations under the wraps and for celebrating with us! You have made our party an overwhelmingly festive and moving homage of a thriving intellectual community to Raine Daston, which no one who was there will forget any time soon.
Our festivities culminated in a wonder of sorts: the miraculous Solstice Vanitas, assembled on the spot by pastry artist Mr. Minsch. Dedicated to Raine and everyone partaking in the event, it was pink and white, and covered in a plethora of shellfish and insects, from simple crawlers to the most marvelous flies opening their wings like crinolines, featuring the rarest specimens of Dahlem’s mineralia, fauna, and flora: from musca dahlemica to insecta dilligens to Dastonit. It was worth seeing with one's own eyes—and also delightfully tasty!