Welcome to the 2014 HSS Meeting Wiki!Edit

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Find other scholars to organize sessions for the 2014 History of Science Society Annual Meeting in Chicago. Post your interests and ideas here to find other potential participants!

Instructions: To add your topic to the list, please click on the "edit" icon to the right of the title above (Welcome to the 2014 HSS Meeting Wiki). This will open the editing screen, which will show only this opening section. You will not see the rest of the meeting entries; that's okay. You're going to be splitting this introductory section into two parts, one of which will be your session description, which will appear at the top of the session list.

To create a new session topic, press enter (return) to start a new line after "Happy sharing!" (below). Type your session title and highlight that text. In the toolbar at the top of the editing screen, you'll see a pull-down menu that says something like "normal text" or "heading 2". This controls the size of your text. Select "Heading 2". Your session title should now be written in large type and underlined with a gray divider-bar. Type your session description below that divider; make sure you type it in "normal text".

You can preview your session description by clicking the gray "Preview" icon in the upper-right corner of the editing screen. Again, this will show only this top section and the new section you have created; you won't see the full meeting list. If you like the way your text looks, close the preview window and click the green "Publish" icon.

Happy sharing!

To go to the current meeting (2016) wiki, click here

Victorian Science Periodicals (title TBC)Edit

This panel is concerned with the behind-the-scenes processes inherent in publishing a science journal in the nineteenth century, focusing on the societies, printers, publishers, scientists, and others involved in editing and managing production, as well as on communication between individual editors and science authors.

Themes that could be covered include: editing practices (possibly overtime); the function of reviewing and refereeing; authors’ experiences of getting into print; the paperwork of science periodical publishing; the economic narrative of a journal’s publishing history; and audiences of science journals.

The panel currently includes Dr. Aileen Fyfe, Dr. Julie McDougall-Waters (St. Andrews University), and Dr. Efram Sera-Shriar (York University, Canada).

If you are interested please send an abstract of 250 words to Julie McDougall-Waters, by 17th April 2014.

Documenting and defining human subjects: historical reflections on the questionnaireEdit

Questionnaires both interrogate and define human subjects in fields as diverse as public health, ethnography, dialectology, and behavioral economics. As instruments of scientific practice, questionnaires embody distinct epistemological assumptions about how social knowledge is best generated while, in their materiality, extending the social, geographic, and institutional reach of the human sciences. Whereas research protocols perhaps endeavor to discipline the observer, questionnaires shift our attention to that which is observed--quite often, the respondent filling in blanks or choosing items from a picklist. Analyzing this unique form of scientific inquiry, our papers respond to the following core questions:

a) What are the main turning points in the history of questionnaires? How are these turning points marked terminologically? To what extent were these changes driven by developments in disciplinary hierarchies, research practices, technology and theory (e.g. the emergence of statistical knowledge)?

b) How, if at all, do questionnaires differ historically from competing practices such as ‘protocols’, ‘practicing instructions’, ‘guides’ etc.? How do such alternative modes of enquiry highlight embedded claims to the objectivity and self-reflexivity of the questionnaire?

c) How have the style, content, and materiality (size, structure, availability, distribution, etc.) of questionnaires helped to delimit a field of observation? How have such fields, in turn, shaped how subjects are known in the human sciences?

Pursuing these issues through our case studies, we collectively examine the ways in which questionnaires have contributed to both the definition of human subjectivity and the subjects of human research over time.

      • We are still looking for two panellists to join us. If you are interested, please send abstracts or inquiries by the 6th of April to: Daniel Midena ( or Judy Kaplan ( Thanks!

The Vocabulary of Work in the Human and Field SciencesEdit

(This panel is now full)

How has the structure of fieldwork around the world shaped discoveries about the natural world or human history?  Recent histories of science have begun to explore the social reality of the field, as an unstable site of scientific practice, beyond the equally unstable, but more easily definable, walls of the laboratory.  This panel will look at multiple contexts of work and workers in the formation of anthropology, archaeology, psychiatry, and biology in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.  In a broad sense, it seeks to weave together social and cultural histories of science by considering work as an analytical category.  While labor history has tended to focus on worker organization in a capitalist framework, new approaches to work history pay attention to practice, lived experience, and global networks.  The papers that make up this panel will examine the concept of work from different angles of gender, emotion, and globalization.  How do field researchers and laborers, or the asylum psychiatrist and his working-class patient, define work and its spaces through the material and social interactions of scientific fieldwork?  What can we learn about the development of modern scientific and historical thought by studying fieldwork, as a division of labor, in different times and places?  How are specific arrangements of instruments and operations assembled into various forms of work?  How is the field defined, in contrast to the laboratory, in the human sciences?

This panel, with commentary by Dr. Suman Seth, will explore how the work practices and materials of the scientist, the explorer, the local expert, the laborer, and the lay person all participate in defining what spaces are considered places of scientific investigation. 

“Who Puts the Work in Fieldwork?  Labor and Archaeological Discovery in Egypt, 1850-1950.” Wendy Doyon, University of Pennsylvania

“Picturing Labor: Gender and German Anthropology in the Philippines.” Marissa Petrou, UCLA

“Work, Emotion, and the Working Class in the Development of Italian Psychiatry.” Daphne Rozenblatt, Max Planck Institute for Human Development

Chair and Commentator, Suman Seth, Cornell University

Measuring People: Anthropometry as Practice, 1900-1950Edit

We are looking to organize a panel on anthropometry as technique of knowledge production. In particular, we are interested in the technicalities of anthropometry: precisely how was this knowledge produced? What actions were done, to/by whom, what tools and instruments were involved, and what power dynamics played a role? How were (which) bodies made "legible"? Besides this, we are interested in the "double" nature of anthropometry, as a practice that both individualizes and categorizes. In our research, anthropometry emerges as a multiform practice, operating in diverse locations (colonial, non-colonial, correctional and governmental institutions) with diverse aims (identification, racial physical anthropology, measuring mental aptitude, and assessing level of degeneration/correctability). In many of these different settings, what strikes us is the sheer vastness of the amount of data that are produced in anthropometric encounters, and how little of the data is actually "used". Contributions that focus on the technicalities of anthropometry, anthropometric measurement as technique of knowledge production, and matters of categorization/individuation are especially welcomed, just as contributions that consider anthropometry as a wide variety of practices (skull-measuring, but also more than skull-measuring), done in many different types of settings. 

For this panel, we propose two presentations, one on anthropometry in a Dutch reformatory (1905-1952) concerned with the "re-education" of "delinquent" teenage girls (Saskia Bultman, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands) and one on the (dis)connections between anthropometric practices on a colonial expedition to Dutch New Guinea (1909) and the anthropometric practices of the "Bertillonage" system of identification introduced at Dutch police stations in the late nineteenth century (Geertje Mak, Radboud University Nijmegen).

If you are interested, please send your abstracts or inquiries to Saskia Bultman ( by the 15th of April, as the conference deadline has been extended.

Science and mathematicsEdit

We're looking to put together a session about the ongoing relationship between science and mathematics, ideally with a focus on how mathematization changes the practice of science. (Other emphases are also welcome, though.) My co-author, Scott Lidgard, and I are preparing a paper on how the introduction of mathematical methods into systematic biology shaped and motivated the development of methodology in the field between 1960-1990. Systematics -- the study of the diversity of life and its history -- was highly fragmented as an institution in the early 20th century: the classification of mammals might proceed under very different principles and techniques than the classification of beetles or plants, for example. In the 1960s, a number of scientists advanced a strong critique of this tradition and introduced mathematical procedures for classification (and soon phylogenetics) that they claimed were universal and explicit. Even as the mathematical procedures were altered and adapted for local purposes, losing some of their universalist allure, they continued to form the basis for a standardized language of methodology across the field. Our paper will analyze the relationship between methodological problems discussed in the literature and the changing mathematical structure of the procedures applied by systematists.

If you are interested in joining the session, please email bsterner at uchicago dot edu and let us know!

Scientific Objects and the Objects of ScienceEdit

Lorraine Daston made popular the notion of 'biographies' of scientific objects in her edited volume from 2000, Biographies of Scientific Objects. The understanding of scientific objects within this text, as epistemic things with linear histories, appears a problematic one for many historical accounts of scientific objects. We propose this session to explore within any of the sciences, the limits of the metaphor of 'biography' for scientific objects, and look for papers that take both an historical and philosophical approach towards constructing the history of a scientific objects.

In this session, we have proposed two papers; one on the history of the enamel knot (the morphogenetic control center of the developing tooth), and one on the history of the Gibraltar Neanderthal skull. In the first paper, the enamel knot is shown to be a scientific object, bourne into a morphogenetic framework in 1913 and given a role in the development and shaping of the tooth crown that was found insupportable by the late 1920s. Debate continued on the role of this object in shaping the tooth for twenty more years until, after 1954, it was relegated to typological obscurity. The enamel knot remained a typological object until the early 1990s, when the work of a research group at the University of Helsinki propelled it back into an experimental system wherein it became the basis for a new paradigm on the development and evolution of teeth. The second paper examines the Gilbraltar Neanderthal skull on its journey from being unearthed to its acceptance within the paleontological community. Discovered in 1848, the Gibraltar skull was given serious scientific consideration until the 1860's--after the type specimen of the Neanderthal was discovered. Within that same decade, publication on this object ceased, and wasn't revived until the early 20th century. This paper examines how factors such as geographical locations, institutions, and networks of communication shape the understanding of an object. Taken together, these two papers give an account of the histories of scientific objects that lead us to question the 'biography' metaphor, and hopefully, will provoke discussion on the role(s) of objects within science, and the role(s) the science has in shaping objects.

If you are interested, please send proposed abstracts or inquiries to Kate MacCord ( by April 5th.

Clusters of Science: Conversation and the Creation of Scientific KnowledgeEdit

We are seeking scholars to join a panel about the informal sharing of knowledge among scientific networks in the form of conversation and correspondence.  See below for proposal.  If you are interested, please contact either Kathleen Sheppard ( or Ulf Hansson ( with the text of your proposal or idea for a paper for the panel.  We welcome all disciplines and all time periods.  Thank you!


Throughout the history of science, men and women have shared their knowledge and ideas with their scientific/scholarly communities through various forms of communicative interaction such as published texts, conferences, seminars, lectures, and exhibitions; these public events and the diverse responses they provoke, in the form of questions, comments, criticism, and other feedback, constitute an open scientific dialogue indispensable for the community’s accumulation and revision of collective knowledge. Knowledge is rarely, if ever, produced in a vacuum; therefore the context of its production is crucial to our understanding of the various mechanisms involved in this dynamic and creative process. The goal of this panel is to focus on groups of people who work together in science, creating knowledge within their respective disciplines through more informal and personal but equally significant channels: the exchanges taking place between practitioners of all disciplines when they meet and talk to each other, in person or via personal, professional correspondence.

The papers presented in this panel will focus on the production and mediation of knowledge and ideas within such informal networks or clusters of individuals and through various modes of interaction and exchange, such as congresses, correspondence, meetings, conversations, and other forms of less-controlled professional social interaction. Of key importance is the phenomenon of the informal intellectual cluster or network of knowledge producers, which is a complex dynamic system of exchange loosely constituted by assemblages of individuals, texts, or artifacts generating and mediating knowledge and ideas through mentioned forms of action and interaction, both within the system and vis-à-vis external actors and/or communities. Knowledge bears the imprint of the location of its creation, therefore the scientific conversation network offers a central point of departure for better understanding complex totalities and assessing so-called instrumental individuals and their work contextually. The presenters varying viewpoints will allow for a more holistic exploration of the various roles played by these clusters in the production and mediation of data and new ideas, and enable the panel to investigate of the role(s) of scientific networks and how individuals have worked together throughout the history of science to generate and transmit knowledge. The panel will include papers by social, intellectual, and cultural historians representing a broad spectrum of fields of study in the history of science.

Early modern Atlantic scientific discourses and empirical practicesEdit

The session will focus on the evolution and interaction of different early modern Atlantic narratives—ethnographic and natural histories, chronicles, relaciones or reports, etc.—and the emerging Western empirical practices and scientific discourses. Through the analysis of the processes of recognition, methodological aspects, building knowledge and joint adaptation of colonizers and natives in sixteenth-century Americas, this session aims to conceptualize early Americas empirically-based discourses and practices and to incorporate them into current narratives of early modern history of science.

Among the issues to explore are: 1) Influence of early modern Americas historiography in the empirical and scientific discourses and practices that gradually transformed medieval natural philosophy into early modern science; 2) Early Americas natives’ agency and role in Western early modern natural science and early modern medicine; 3) Influence of Renaissance humanism in the Americas for the intellectual conceptualization of a new, empirically-based historiography; 4) Transatlantic and cross-cultural conceptualization of early modern empirical culture(s).

 If you are interested in participating please send an abstract to Jaime Marroquín, George Washington University at by April 4th, 2014.

The Institution as Laboratory: Captive Bodies and the Production of Scientific Knowledge/ExpertiseEdit

[This panel has been submitted. Thanks for all of the interest! I hope to see you all at the meeting. - CET] 

How does the site of knowledge production affect the development of scientific expertise? What kinds of bodies - and spaces - are seen as most useful to scientific research? Does the location of these bodies within institutional spaces affect how the knowledge produced is interpreted historically? This panel revisits institutional spaces, such as the prison, the asylum, and the hospital, and reframes them as laboratories, sites for the production of scientific knowledge. The panel also examines the human occupants of such spaces as productive bodies, exploring the power dynamics inherent to the use of such bodies as both objects and subjects of research by scientific and medical professionals. Papers that explore prisons, asylums, hospitals, and similar institutions as laboratories or as sites of collective knowledge production are welcome.

My own work focuses on the prison as a site for the production of scientific knowledge about crime by nineteenth-century phrenologists and prisoner reformers in America. While I would be open to constructing this panel as one focused entirely on penal spaces, especially as we near the 40th anniversary of Foucault's Discipline and Punish, other institutional sites would also fit into this panel, including hospitals and asylums. Please send proposed abstracts or inquiries to Courtney Thompson, Yale University, by April 1 ( 

Scientific Practice in the Peripheral and the Emerging Contexts Edit

An important phase of a scientific practice is how people come to join that practice. On this matter, most of our analyses of science have been guided by one primary model -- contributions in science have mostly been viewed from the perspective of those who have inherited an already-existing practice from other veterans, and created their contributions within that continuous context. This of course focuses our attention upon a few Euro-American communities as the source of all scientific creativity, and directs our attention away from all the other cases and sites of scientific reasoning.

 Yet, outside of this well-known scenario, there exists an equally important model of joining science, i.e., by self-training or self-introduction. Many important episodes of science, such as the case of Bose-Einstein statistics, have been produced from that context, and indeed, several non-Western scientific communities had historically began their track record from such a starting point.  Thus, this mechanism explains most of the lateral spread of science. And yet, the position of being a self-trained newcomer in a scientific practice, and crafting contribution  to science in the role of an outsider,  have not received enough theoretical attention, even though this would identify  a wider group of stakeholders as the source of scientific creativity.

 The goal of this panel is to look for models and case studies for all such situations by examining the various practices of science from the point of view of the newcomers, or those who often function outside the arena of a professionally trained community. This will certainly involve studies on the practices of science from various peripheral and non-Western contexts.  As a coordinator, I am looking for two or three possible contributors who are interested in evaluating scientific reasoning and practices from this wider context. Two contributions on the early 20th century Indian science and its community of physicists have already been identified. A few more contributions from the peripheral contexts of science as well any general framework will complement a session that sees science against this broader point of view.

 If you are interested in participating in such a session, please contact Deepanwita Dasgupta at by April 1st, 2014 with a short abstract of what you are planning to present.

Innovations in animal husbandry and livestock breeding and the formation of new forms of expertise.Edit

Historians increasingly pay attention to the role of  animals in the production of knowledge.  Recently this  trend has spread to include the history of livestock animals.  Cattle, pigs, chickens and sheep have always occupied a specific place in society, and the history of animal husbandry evolved at the intersection of the history of economics, politics, agriculture, science and culture

Thus innovations in animal husbandry have, more often than not, been very complex processes that involved much more than knowledge transfer and technological change. Major innovations like the introduction of AI, for instance, can be said to have involved the transformation of a system of breeding that was rooted in economic, technical, cultural  and normative convictions, and that involved a complex interplay between multiple groups of actors, such as breeders, farmers, scientists, engineers, veterinarians and  agricultural consultants

In this panel we would like to address the problem of accurately describing the process of innovation by focusing on the role of the expert. Who is considered an expert and why? Which new kinds of expertise are developed during the interactions between  the different stakeholders, and how do  new experts become recognized as such. What happens to older kinds of expertise in the process? We suspect that  innovations and new forms of expertise in animal husbandry and livestock breeding are constructed simultaneously and in close interaction, and that, therefore, a focus on the fate of different forms of expertise can help us better to understand how major transformations in these field come about. Contributors are invited to focus on  innovations in all subfields of livestock breeding and animal husbandry, such as -  feeding, , housing, breeding, veterinary medicine, etc. 

This panel is organized by Steven van der Laan en Jesper Oldenburger (both University of Utrecht, the Netherlands) and we are looking for one or two more papers to join our session. For more information or to propose an abstract please contact Jesper Oldenburger (  

Animals and ScienceEdit

I'm looking to put together a panel on the intersection of animals and science.  I do not have a specific theme in mind as yet, but this is a topic that can be approached from multiple directions and cover a wide range of work.  I am open to ideas from a variety of disciplines, topics, and scholarly ranks.  Anyone interested in presenting or commenting, please do be in touch:  

Science that Changed the World, MateriallyEdit

Roger Turner (Dickinson College)

[This panel is now filled. Thanks for everyone's interest. See you at the meeting! --Roger Turner]

This is a panel for stories about how science has had significant, measurable effects on the physical and material world. We all believe that scientific ideas can be powerful—but how do they become so? How have changing mental landscapes affected more tangible landscapes? Rather than ending the story shortly after the moment of discovery, we need to follow new ideas out of the lab and into the world, to see how they came to reshape things and places. What kinds of mechanisms, institutions, and actions translate changes in thought into changes in practice? For example, how did scientific ideas affect building practices, the geographic distribution of things, land use choices, decisions about the cultivation or management of living organisms, or the extraction and processing of natural resources? Each paper should connect an intellectual change to a material change, and should explain, in a way that is clear and memorable, why that material change is significant. Each paper should also include at least some measurement of the material effects that resulted from that intellectual change.  Send proposed abstracts or further inquiries to Roger Turner, Dickinson College:, by March 31st. Prospective commentators are also welcome.

The History of Labor in Global Scientific DiscoveryEdit

Wendy Doyon (University of Pennsylvania)

What can we learn about the nature of modern scientific and historical thought by studying the social reality of fieldwork, as a division of labor, in different times and places?  Is there common ground among different social settings for studying the structure of science in this way?  I would like to organize a conversation around these questions by exploring the role of various forms of labor and intermediaries in scientific networks and production around the world.  Ideally, this panel would include a range of research interests in the history of both the social and natural field sciences, from any corner of the globe between the 18th and 20th centuries.  The focus of the panel would be on the significance of social ties between workers, explorers, and their intermediaries to the development of scientific and historical thought.  How has the reality of fieldwork structured discoveries about the natural world or human history?  Additionally, we may consider how these questions shine a light on the role of science in the history of globalization.  My own research interest is the history of labor on archaeological excavations in Egypt and the making of the archaeological record.  If you are interested in this panel, please e-mail Wendy Doyon, University of Pennsylvania, at

Science. Gender, and Social Policy in the Early 20th Century Edit

Given the turbulence and social dislocations that accompanied new immigration and internal migration from rural to urban areas, the new social sciences and a cadre of management experts struggled to find ways to meet needs and create a policies that could establish order. Many of them turned to the sciences to provide methods and arguments to undergird their programs. This session will focus on three or four examples of such efforts and will also identify the role played by women in these initiatives. There are two papers identified. One will examine eugenic marriage laws that passed in the 1910s and follow debates over whether or not these laws were sufficiently “scientific” in their intention and outcomes. The other paper analyzes how Mendelian heredity influenced rapid changes in institutions for people with cognitive impairments as they moved from an emphasis on schooling to become permanent residential facilities. In both of these cases, issues of gender and the involvement of women leaders is quite evident.

As coordinator, I am looking for one or two additional papers that focus on this theme of science and social policy. Please contact Katrina Jirik at by April 1, 2014, if you are interested and provide a short abstract of what you might present. 

This panel has been submitted.

Graduate Student Panel. Modern World: Social Darwinism, Eugenics, and GenocideEdit

The Spencerian social construct of survival has hampered Darwinian evolution and the concept of adaptation for too long. Some genocidal acts were committed using negative eugenic ideology. If you have also seen the links between Social Darwinism, eugenics, and genocide in your scholarship then I hope we can collaborate at the HSS 2014 meeting.

I am an MA History student from Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers, Florida. I would like to form a graduate student panel for HSS 2014. MA and Ph.D. candidates are welcome. My research interests focus on pre-Nazi eugenics, linking Herbert Spencer to the concept of national efficiency, spawning the culling concept within the British eugenics movement of the pre-World War One era.

The extended due date for proposals is April 21. Send an email to me, Christopher Harrison, at for further details. I would appreciate a response before April 17 so we can arrange the final proposal.

Best regards,

Christopher Harrison

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