Etienne Benson is Director of Department II, Knowledge Systems and Collective Life. His research focuses on the history of science, politics, and the environment in the United States and Europe from the eighteenth century to the present.

He is the author of two books, Wired Wilderness: Technologies of Tracking and the Making of Modern Wildlife (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010) and Surroundings: A History of Environments and Environmentalisms (University of Chicago Press, 2020), as well as articles on human-animal relations, conservation and environmentalism, and the Earth and environmental sciences. His current work focuses on the political and scientific implications of the development of a quantitative science of landscapes in the mid-twentieth century.

Etienne Benson received his doctorate in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology and Society from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2008. He has held positions as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University, a research scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, a lecturer at the University of Chicago and New York University–Berlin, and a visiting scholar at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich. From 2013 to 2022, he was a faculty member in the Department of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania, where he served as chair of the undergraduate program in Science, Technology, and Society and of the graduate program in History and Sociology of Science. He has been a director at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science since 2022.

 

Projects

Rivers of Data

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Databases and Data Communities in Animal Ecology

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The Regulatory Archive: Science, Law, and Ethics in Biodiversity Conservation

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Selected Publications

Benson, Etienne Samuel (2022). “The Post-Heroic Field.” Isis 113 (1): 114–120. https://doi.org/10.1086/718151.

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Brinitzer, Cameron, and Etienne Samuel Benson (2022). “Introduction: What Is a Field? Transformations in Fields, Fieldwork, and Field Sciences since the Mid-Twentieth Century.” Isis 113 (1): 108–113. https://doi.org/10.1086/718147.

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Benson, Etienne Samuel (2021). “Review of: Kelly, Duncan: Politics and the Anthropocene. Cambridge: Polity Press 2019.” H-Diplo Roundtable 22 (48). 22 (48). https://hdiplo.org/to/RT22-48.

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Benson, Etienne Samuel (2021). “Post-Domestication: The Posthuman.” In Handbook of Historical Animal Studies, ed. M. Roscher, B. Mizelle, A. Steinbrecher, and A. Krebber, 53–66. Berlin: DeGruyter Oldenbourg. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110536553-006.

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News & Press

Student Assistants for Department "Knowledge Systems and Collective Life" (Deadline: October 30, 2022)

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Etienne Benson to join the MPIWG as director in summer 2022

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MPIWG researchers and alumni publish Isis Issue focused on the Anthropocene

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