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Exploring Traditions: Sources for a Global History of Science

An AHRC funded project convened by Dr Sujit Sivasundaram



Historians and philosophers of science are currently in the midst of a global turn.  They are asking 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.  This Research Network, convened by Dr. Sujit Sivasundaram in History and Prof. Simon Schaffer in History and Philosophy of Science, picks up on these developments, by aiming to link an international centre for the study of global histories of science, namely the University of Cambridge, with scholars working in South Asia and Africa. By aiming to interpret the artefacts, both archival and material, which have arisen out of science’s global histories, the project will come to terms with the status of the ‘indigenous’ in science, and also questions of ownership, expertise and truth-making when tied to inter-cultural contact.

The specific research questions which will drive the project are as follows:

1. How can sources which are variable with respect to genre, materiality and origin be read alongside each other? Can such cross-contextualisation of archival and material remains provide a different narrative of the global in science?

2. How was science consolidated as a form of intellectual property as a result of global processes? How did globalization generate a sense of what was unscientific, and in particular, how did it define and come to terms with the ‘indigenous’?

3. How have cultures and traditions been defined through science? How has the globalization of cultural forms impacted on the placement of science in the global? What is the relation between the globalisation of science and imperialist science?

4. What pathways has science travelled through, and can this be elucidated in relation to the pathways taken by archival and material remains? How did science become bound to empires and nations, and how have global narratives been missed by past scholars?

Information connected to the workshops held under the project can be found here:


New joint degrees start October 2017

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Biodiversity and its Histories

Mar 24, 2017

Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DT

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