Science and Late-Modern Empires

History 280S

Fall 2011
2231 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
W 12-2P
  • Note new room.
  • This seminar delves into the entanglements of science and late modern imperialism by drawing on recent literature in the field of history of science. The challenge is to explore simultaneously the role of imperial undertakings in the shaping of modern science and the relevance of history of science narratives for understanding the general history of late modern empires. The British Empire and its American, African, and Asian possessions will show up prominently in our discussions, but the set of proposed readings has a true global scope and includes texts dedicated to less known contexts such as the Portuguese colony of East Timor, French Senegal, or German Togo. Sessions are organized around very concrete things - plants, animals, skulls, standards- and do not follow either a chronological or geographical order. The seminar tries instead to grasp the material culture of late modern imperialism through an array of scientific things produced by geneticists, physicists, or anthropologists. It takes scientific artifacts as good things to think with in historical discussions of colonial societies and colonial political economies.


    Tiago Saraiva is a research scholar at the Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon. His research focuses on science and fascism (Italy, Germany, Portugal), Science and agribusiness, science and environment in contemporary history, science and the city (Lisbon, Madrid, Los Angeles), industrialized organisms and food, model organisms and genetics research.