History of Science Reader
Cooperation Project (2015-)

Reader Project in the History of Science


The disciplines of the history of science, medicine, and technology are rethinking themselves in global terms. In order to widen the scope of both subject matter and scholarly discussion, the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science proposes a pilot project: a two-volume, multi-language reader that will translate into Chinese ten influential historical articles or book chapters on science, technology, or medicine published in English during the last 25 years (since 1990) on any topic and epoch in our fields.

The project is in collaboration with the History of Science Society, the American Association for the History of Medicine, the British Society for the History of Science, the Division of the History of Science and Technology of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, the European Society for the History of Science, the Society for the History of Technology and the Society for the Social History of Medicine.

The reader, History of Science in a World of Readers: Frames of References for Global Exchange, will be published by Edition Open Access, in conjunction with a renowned Asian academic publishing house, and will be made available both online and by print on demand. The companion volume will translate into English an analogous selection of articles in Chinese chosen by our colleagues in those countries, into English. If this trial project is successful, we hope to expand it to include other regions and languages.

From October to December 2015 the partner institutions hosted a web-based poll to solicit nominations from members of the societies (and anyone who was interested). A total of 244 different essays were nominated in this poll in the disciplines of history of science, history of medicine, and history of technology. This provided a starting place for the discussion of the editorial committee (see members below) that reviewed the results and selected the most influential articles for publication. The selection process took place in winter and spring of 2016. The chosen articles are currently being translated and will be published in 2018.

The partners will use this website to inform the public about the ongoing process and its results. In addition, they intend to host some events to reflect about the issue of translating in the history of science.


Articles Selected

  • Anderson, W. 2000. “The Possession of Kuru: Medical Science and Biocolonial Exchange.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 42, 713–744.
  • Blair, A. 2003. “Reading Strategies for Coping With Information Overload ca. 1550–1700.” Journal of the History of Ideas 64, 11–28.
  • Bray, F. 1998. “Technics and Civilization in Late Imperial China: An Essay in the Cultural History of Technology.” Osiris 13, 11–33.
  • Galison, P. 2003. “The Collective Author.” In Scientific Authorship: Credit and Intellectual Property, edited by M. Biagioli and P. Galison, 325–353. New York: Routledge.
  • Green, M.H. 2008. “Gendering the History of Women’s Healthcare.” Gender & History 20, 487–518.
  • Harwood, J. 2009. “Peasant Friendly Plant Breeding and the Early Years of the Green Revolution in Mexico.” Agricultural History 83, 384–410.
  • Hecht, G. 1994. “Political Designs: Nuclear Reactors and National Policy.” Technology and Culture 35, 657–685.
  • Kohler, R.E. 1999. “Moral Economy, Material Culture and Community in Drosophila Genetics.” In Science Studies Reader, edited by M. Biagioli, 243–257. New York: Routledge.
  • Long, P.O. 1991. “The Openness of Knowledge: An Ideal and Its Context in 16th-Century Writings on Mining and Metallurgy.” Technology and Culture 32, 318–355.
  • Netz, R. 1998. “Deuteronomic Texts: Late Antiquity and the History of Mathematics.” Revue d’histoire des Mathématiques 4, 261–288.
  • Rosenberg, C.E. 1992. “Framing Disease: Illness, Society, and History.” In Explaining Epidemics and Other Studies in the History of Medicine, edited by C.E. Rosenberg, 305–318. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Secord, J.A. 2004. “Knowledge in Transit.” Isis 95, 654–672.

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