Berlin, October 12, 2023 – The Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG) celebrated the launch of Department II, "Knowledge Systems and Collective Life," directed by historian Etienne Benson. The innovative new department will take historical, ethnographic, multimedia, and community-engaged approaches to deepen our understanding of the historical roots of contemporary crises—environmental, epidemiological, economic, diplomatic, and others—and the forms of knowledge that have been mobilized to address them.
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The launch event was attended by MPIWG members, alumni, and external guests. The diverse program began with a welcome introduction by MPIWG Director Dagmar Schäfer, and a lecture by Etienne Benson that shed light on the core research areas of the department.
Researchers from the new department showcased their projects through informative poster presentations. These included:
Shadows for Sunlight: An Anthropology of Solution
The Evolution of Culture: Laboratories and Legislatures in Illiberal Hungary.
Cynthia Jean Browne
Making Sense of The Environs: Exposure as Epistemic Action.
Bernard Michael Geoghegan
Screenscapes: How Formats Render Territories.
Barren Structures: The Problem of Sterility in the Age of Plenty.
Communities of Reproductive Knowledge.
The Invention of the Normal Child: The Developmental Norms and the Visual Technologies of Arnold Gesell’s Laboratory (1911–1948).
Alejandra Osorio Tarazona
From Recipients of Knowledge to Producers: Indigenous Peasants’ Knowledge and Sustainable Farming in Peru (1950–2010).
"Servants of Science:" The Making and Unmaking of Chimpanzees as Laboratory Animals in the Twentieth Century.
Symbiotic Worlding: Theories and Practices of Coexistence in Lynn Margulis and Donna Haraway.
Rare Earth: Gemstones, Geohistories, and Commercial Geography Between Southeast Asia and Europe, c. 1600–1750.
The Use and Reuse of Paper in the Humanities.
The event was followed by a reception and poster display at the MPIWG.
Gratitude to the Organizers
This event was made possible by the dedication and hard work of the Department II office team. Special thanks to Kerstin Hinrichsen, Maria Beierlein de Gutiérrez, Kseniia Mohelsky, Esther Beneker, Lotta Feibicke, and Pirmin Kuss.