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Exploring Traditions: Sources for a Global History of Science, CRASSH Cambridge

May 7, 2013

Convened by Sujit Sivasundaram (History) and Simon Schaffer (HPS) the workshop continues an important set of debates and reflexions on the interaction between histories of the sciences and models of global history. These debates ask fundamental questions about what science has meant on the global stage and how sciences have come to take form through global confrontations, connections and politics. A previous CRASSH workshop in May 2009, entitled, Are we ready to recast the history of science? made a significant contribution to this historiographical conversation and generated a special ‘focus’ issue in Isis (2010).

One question that emerged from that special issue asked about the integration of varied sources from different cultural positions in forging a global history of science. For too long European sources and remains have been prioritised in this historiography. This led to the dominance of a narrowly defined intellectual inquiry, namely the relation between European expansion and science. The prioritisation of European materials has also meant that national frameworks have been central in the narration of histories of science. A second issue that emerged from the special issue was the question of how to interpret the networked past of global science, whilst at the same time coming to terms with the need for collaborative relationships today, spanning different parts of the world, in order to create new global histories of science.

This new meeting marks the first of three workshops funded by the AHRC. The concerns that emerged from the special issue are central to all three workshops. This first workshop marks the visit to Cambridge of Prof. S. Irfan Habib (Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Chair, Delhi, India) and Dr.Keith Breckenridge (University of Witwatersrand, South Africa). The aim in the first instance is to link UK-based scholars with those working in South Asia and Africa on questions of the sciences’ past. The network is also connected with the Centres of South Asian Studies and African Studies and the Faculty of History and the Department of History and Philosophy of Science in the University of Cambridge. The workshop will involve discussions of work-in-progress by Habib and Breckenridge, and will involve presentations from graduate students based in the Faculty of History and in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge.

Full details and online registration (£7/£15):