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Accueil > Archives > Journées et colloques des années précédentes > Journées et colloques 2011–2012 > International Workshop How to make the peripheral “mainstream” : Recent developments in the historiography of science

International Workshop How to make the peripheral “mainstream” : Recent developments in the historiography of science

French version

Monday 12, Tuesday 13, Wednesday 14 December 2011
University Paris Diderot,
room Klee (454A), building Condorcet,
75013 Paris.

Contact : Catherine Jami

Organisation Comittee


Over the last few years, studies of the history of science in parts of the world that had long been regarded as having played no significant part in the historical development of science have flourished. At the same time those who have studied the history of science “elsewhere” have engaged in historiographical reflection to an increased degree. This reflection has been nourished by research pertaining specifically to the history of science, but also by critiques of eurocentrism in the social sciences and in the humanities (post-colonial studies, global history, criticism of “orientalism”...). Based on experience of organising a number of workshops on related themes, we now propose to open a discussion on the present developing state of our field.

Each participant in the workshop will present the state of his or her own research field or some key moments of the historiography. Alternatively, he or she might discuss aspects of his or her own recent research that can help to bring out points of convergence, paths that have been opened and that can be further explored, and also obstacles that have been encountered. We hope that we can work collectively on articulating proposals that should contribute to a faster integration of our work and of our research questions into what is perceived as the “mainstream” history of science. For we are convinced that our work should contribute to challenging the traditional dichotomy between “the West and the rest”—a dichotomy devoid of justification— as well as to advancing a reflection on “local and global”, which is relevant to all in our profession.

The conference will open with a proposal for approaching the history of science on the global scale. The rest of the first day will be devoted to confronting studies that aim at locating science and tracing its circulation to studies that apply the same approach to the historiography.
During the second day, a session will be devoted to mathematics, presenting both the ways in which politics has shaped the historiography and proposals for renewing this historiography ; another session will focus on the processes of construction of “the West” as central to modern science, and to the readings of texts stemming from other scientific traditions that have participated in these processes. The last day will be devoted to new historiographical proposals, on the one hand in the field of “Science and empires”, on the other hand in studies devoted to texts that traditional historiography has labelled as pertaining to “oriental sciences”.

Organisation Committee


  • Catherine Jami, Directrice de recherche au CNRS, responsable du colloque
  • Florence Bretelle-Establet, Chargée de recherche au CNRS
  • Karine Chemla, Directrice de recherche au CNRS
  • Pascal Crozet, Directeur de recherche au CNRS,
  • Guillaume Lachenal, Maître de conférence, Université de Paris-Diderot
  • Patrick Petitjean, Chargé de recherche au CNRS



Working on a global scale

Ronald Numbers (University of Wisconsin, Madison)
Science and Religion around the World

10 H 30 – 13 H SESSION 1

Locating the history of science, tracing its circulation

Fabio Bevilacqua (University of Pavia)
History and meaning of the principle of energy conservation : going back to the Classics

Agathe Keller (SPHERE, CNRS, Paris & ERC PROJECT SAW)
Of numbers and languages : traveling histories on the origins of the decimal place value notation (18th – 20th century)

Annette Vogt (MPIWG, Berlin)
Gender studies in East and West Europe – where do we stand ?

14 H 15 – 18 H SESSION 2

Locating science, tracing its circulation

Michio Yano (Kyoto Sangyo University)
The comparative study of calendar making in Asia

Frank James (The Royal Institution, London)
Faraday, the Royal Institution and the British Empire

Alexey Postnikov (Russian Academy of Sciences)
George Bogle, the first British envoy to Bhutan and Tibet (1774-1775) : the importance of his mission for his contemporaries and subsequent participants of the Great Game in Asia

Ana Rosa Barahona Etcheverria (UNAM, Mexico City)
Mendelism in the field. The case of genetics in Mexican agriculture

Irina Gouzevitch (EHESS, Centre Maurice Halbwachs, Paris)
Influence versus circulation : testing an antithesis in the history of ‘cultural transfers’ – the case of 18th century Russia


9 H 30 – 12 H 30 SESSION 3

Focusing on a discipline : mathematics

Hélène Gispert (GHDSO, Université de Paris-Sud)
A new agenda for the history of early 20th century (western) mathematics : re-examining those excluded from the dominant narrative of mathematical modernity

Karine Chemla (SPHERE, CNRS, Paris & ERC PROJECT SAW)
The divide between proof and computation : historiographic and historical remarks

Andrea Bréard (University of Lille 1 & IKFG, Erlangen)
Can archival sources and everyday encyclopedias do more than complement the picture of mathematical practice in China ?

Liu Dun (IHNS, Beijing)
How did Archimedes become a patriotic hero in late Qing China ?

14 H 30 – 17 H SESSION 4

Neither “Oriental” nor modern : new readings of old materials

Joachim Kurtz (University of Heidelberg)
De-modernizing the History of Logic in China

Christopher Cullen (Needham Research Institute, Cambridge)
Re-centering ancient Chinese science : the role of recently discovered manuscript sources

Sonja Brentjes (University of Seville)
Narratives of knowledge in Islamic societies : what do they tell us about scholars and their contexts ?


9 H 30 – 12 H 30 SESSION 5

“Dewesternising” Science and empires

Efthymios Nicolaidis (National Hellenic Research Foundation, Athens)
Conspicuous by its absence : Byzantium in the historiography of science

Catherine Jami (SPHERE, CNRS, Paris)
"Science and empires" seen from Asia : bringing continental empires into the narrative

Michael Osborne (Oregon State University)
Provincial and regional contexts of the French Empire

Guillaume Lachenal (SPHERE, University of Paris-Diderot)
The history and memory of science in Africa

14 H 30 – 17 H SESSION 6

How the “mainstream” has been constructed

Pascal Crozet (SPHERE, CNRS, Paris)
On the historiography of Arabic science

Florence Bretelle-Establet (SPHERE, CNRS, Paris)
Working on the margins : bringing out the various processes of marginalisation of the sources of history of science

Mehrnaz Katouzian Safadi (SPHERE, CNRS, Paris)
How the words and style of medieval Arabic texts have influenced historians of science


Laboratoire SPHERE, UMR 7219, CNRS – University Paris Diderot (Paris 7),
Campus Paris Rive gauche (PRG), building Condorcet,
4, rue Elsa Morante, 75013 Paris. Map.
Metro line 14, RER C : station Bibliothèque François Mitterrand.
Bus : 62, 89, 325, 64, stop : Avenue de France.