Dagmar Schaefer: Mobilities and histories of knowledge exchange in Eur(ope-)Asia-Africa. Or: Is China ‚Chinese'?

Keynote address at the 11th annual ADI conference, University of Copenhagen


Professor Dr. Dagmar Schaefer,  Director and Scientific Member at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, will give her keynote address Mobilities and histories of knowledge exchange in Eur(ope-)Asia-Africa. Or: Is China ‚Chinese'? as part of the 11th annual ADI Conference held at University of Copenhagen.

This lecture addresses knowledge mobility through the lens of materials (objects, landscapes), and discusses the role historical and contemporary research approaches have on our view of what moves or is immutable in knowledge exchange. Bruno Latour once argued that ‘The history of science is in large part the history of the mobilisation of anything that can be made to move and shipped back 21 home[;]…expeditions, collections, probes, observatories and enquiries are only some of the many ways that allow a centre to act at a distance’ (Latour 1987: 225, 227). Still, social — rather than material -- movement (or its absence) has traditionally played an important role in the history of science, technology and medicine in terms of transmission, transfer, circulation or exchange. But both in the history of science and mobility studies social structures are emphasized and analysed. Grounded in sociology, mobility studies too have primarily looked at mobility socially: "family/household, community, national, and the constellation of countries linked by migration flows’ (King and Skeldon 2010: 1640). Materials, landscapes and objects, by comparison, are rendered as context and result of mobilities and social flows. Addressed will be the methodological challenges of a focus on mobility of the immutable/mobile object in historical research and the implications of shifting from a sociological to a material approach also for our contemporary view of mobility.

All are welcome!

The lecture is part of the 11th annual ADI Conference. You can read more about the conference here.