Cooperation Project (2023-)

ISRF—MPIWG Collaborative Fellowship Program

A New Interdisciplinary Program on the History of Knowledge

The Independent Social Research Foundation (ISRF) and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG) have established a joint pilot program to foster interdisciplinary research in the field of the history of knowledge. Based on long-standing expertise in history and the social sciences, the two institutions developed a tandem model in which researchers from all over the world could apply with joint projects combining historical with contemporary perspectives on the sources and effects of knowledge formation in scientific, intellectual, economic, social, technological, or environmental domains. The program explores the potential and challenges of close cooperation between the historical and social sciences.

Combining Historical with Contemporary Perspectives on the Sources and Effects of Knowledge Formation

The six Fellows investigate original research questions in three interdisciplinary projects that reflect the program’s global scope. Nelson Chanza (Johannesburg) and Eric Makombe (Harare) use ethnographic fieldwork and archival study to find out how local livelihoods in postcolonial Zimbabwe have been affected by climate change and what mitigation and adaptation measures are compatible with a sustainable development strategy. Angelika Fortuna (Jakarta) and Dewi Tan (New York) examine the discourses of the sinking city of Jakarta and the practices of countering its submersion; they combine media narrative analysis with interviews and mapping technologies to ask how present-day resilience responses are shaped by Dutch technocratic intervention during colonialism. Leonardo Niro (Essex) and Bruno Rates (São Paulo) explore how scientists from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century in (and between) the life sciences and psychological sciences engaged with notions of force and energy as a way of conceptualizing vital and mental phenomena, notions that still impact upon discussions in psychology, philosophy, and the neurosciences today.

The six participants started work on March 1, 2023. Based at the MPIWG in Berlin for most of the duration of their four-month fellowships, they are hosted by the newly established graduate school on the history of knowledge, the International Max Planck Research School “Knowledge and Its Resources: Historical Reciprocities” (IMPRS-KIR).


Projects 2023