People

Dagmar Schäfer

Director (Since 2013)

Dr., Professor, TU Berlin, FU Berlin, Tianjin University

The current Managing Director of the Institute, Dagmar Schäfer is Director of Department III, Artifacts, Action, Knowledge. She is Honorary Professor in History of Technology at Technische Universität, Berlin; Adjunct Professor at the Institute of Sinology, Freie Universität, Berlin; and Guest Professor at Tianjin University (2018–2021). She received her doctorate and habilitation from the University of Würzburg and has worked and studied at Zhejiang University, Peking University, National Tsing Hua University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Manchester, among others. She was previously a Guest Professor at the School of History and Culture of Science, Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Dagmar Schäfer's interest is the history and sociology of technology of China, focusing on the paradigms configuring the discourse on technological development, past and present. She has published widely on the Premodern history of China (Song-Ming) and technology, materiality, the processes and structures that lead to varying knowledge systems, and the changing role of artifacts—texts, objects, and spaces—in the creation, diffusion, and use of scientific and technological knowledge. Her current research focus is the historical dynamics of concept formation, situations, and experiences of action through which actors have explored, handled and explained their physical, social, and individual worlds.

 

Schäfer portrait photo

Photo: ausserhofer.de

 

Her monograph The Crafting of the 10,000 Things (University of Chicago Press, 2011) won the History of Science Society: Pfizer Award in 2012 and the Association for Asian Studies: Joseph Levenson Prize (Pre-1900) in 2013. Dagmar Schäfer was awarded the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize 2020—the most prestigious research award in Germany, it is given to “exceptional scientists and academics for their outstanding achievements in the field of research.”

Projects

Ability and Authority

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History of Science ON CALL: Listening, Attending, Acting

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History of Science Reader

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Local Gazetteers

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Moving Crops and the Scales of History

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Multimedia and the History of Science/Sound of Silk Film Project

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Rare Local Gazetteers at Harvard-Yenching Library: An Open Access Collection

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RISE and SHINE: Research Infrastructure for the Study of Eurasia

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Accounting for Uncertainty: Prediction and Planning in Asian History

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Cultural Traditions of Technical Knowledge

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Geographies of Knowing: China Historical GIS

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Knowledge Transmission

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Media and Methods of Practical Knowledge Transmission: Craftsmanship and the Qing Court

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Monumentalized or Marginalized, Writings about Technology in Chinese History: A Database

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Systems, Tools, and Artifacts: Technology Transmission in Premodern China

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Selected Publications

Schäfer, D., Riello, G., & Molà, L. (Eds.). (2018). Threads of Global Desire: Silk in the Pre-Modern World. Woodbridge: Boydell Press.

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Brentjes, S., & Schäfer, D. (2020). Visualizations of the Heavens before 1700 as a Concern of the History of Science, Medicine and Technology. NTM: Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Wissenschaften, Technik und Medizin, 28(3), 295-304. doi:10.1007…

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Schäfer, D., Riello, G., & Molà, L. (2020). Introduction. Seri­-Technics: Historical Silk Technologies. In D. Schäfer, G. Riello, & L. Molà (Eds.), Seri-Technics: Historical Silk Technologies (pp. 5-11). Berlin: Max Planck Institute for the…

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Schäfer, D., Riello, G., & Molà, L. (Eds.). (2020). Seri-Technics: Historical Silk Technologies. Berlin: Max Planck Institute for the History of Science.

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News & Press

Chinese-language "History of Science Reader” praised in Shanghai Review of Books

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"When Historians and Computer Engineers Collaborate in Research": Dagmar Schäfer interviewed in 澎湃新闻

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Dagmar Schäfer in Deutschlandfunk Kultur podcast on her career path through China's history of technology

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Video Interview

Institute Events

Presentation

Doing Science Differently in the Age of Climate Change

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Presentation

Digital, Domestic, Disposable: The Life Sciences’ Many Cultures of Experimentation

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Workshop

Global South Cosmologies & Epistemologies: A Trans-Hemispheric Conversation

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Workshop

Analysis of Pre-Modern Maps of East Asia: Methods and Approaches

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Books

Presentations, Talks, & Teaching Activities

Panel: “Empires, Exchange and Civilizational Connectivity in Eurasia”

ENIUGH Congress, Budapest, Hungary

ENIUGH
Keynote address: Politics and Scientific Change in Dynastic China, at Knowing Nature: The Changing Foundations of Environmental Knowledge,

Renmin University, Beijing, China

Dynastic Knowledge and the Knowledge of Dynasties: Politics and the History of Scientific Change in China

Columbia University, New York, USA

The Center for Science and Society
A Cosmos of Silkworms: Textiles and Knowledge Of Nature From 12th-14th Century China

Princeton University, USA

East Asian Studies Program