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Knowing Nature: The Changing Foundations of Environmental Knowledge


25.05.2017 – 27.05.2017

Date: 25-27 May 2017

Location: Renmin University of China, Beijing, China

Conveners: Helmuth Trischler (Deutsches Museum and Rachel Carson Center), Donald Worster (University of Kansas and Renmin University of China), Mingfang Xia (Renmin University of China).

Who knows nature best? Over the past 10,000 years competing communities of knowledge have evolved, each with formalized standards and processes. Peasants have competed against craftsmen, religious leaders, and urban experts. In modern societies based on science and technology, the claims to knowledge have changed even more dramatically, although scientific knowledge still competes with other bodies of knowledge. And always, who gets to define knowledge can have profound consequences for the natural world.

For our conference we seek proposals that examine what has been seen and under-stood as measurable, speculative, safe or unsafe and how scale (of landscapes, research projects etc.) can affect knowledge production. We welcome proposals on the rise of new fields of knowledge about nature and the environment and their search for disciplinary and institutional stability. Our conference will seek to move beyond simple dichotomies (modernity vs. tradition, science vs. religion, folk wisdom vs. urban ignorance), to develop comparisons that cross national boundaries, and to bring neglected parts of the globe and time into view.

Our keynote speaker will be Dagmar Schäfer, managing director of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, and author of The Crafting of the 10,000 Things: Knowledge and Technology in Seventeenth-Century China (University of Chicago Press, 2011).

The Call for Papers can be found here. Deadline for applications was 1 January 2017.

Please find the program here.

Read the conference report, written by Katrin Kleemann, here.

Submitted papers (for participants only; password protected):

Avxentevskaya, Maria
Brantz, Dorothee
Campbell, Ian
Camprubi, Lino
Cao, Ling
Dorondel, Stefan
Ehlers, Sarah
Huang, Yu
Jaiswal, Sreeja
Jakobsson, Eva
Kleemann, Katrin
Lavelle, Peter
Li, Yongxiang
Lin, James
MacEachern, Alan
Olenenko, Anna
Padua, José-Augusto
Pan, Mingtao
Che, Qun
Stunden Bower, Shannon
Sun, Mengmeng
Sun, Jinghao
Swart, Sandra
Wang, Zanwei