Here you can download the conference programme including a list of abstracts:
We are also happy to announce the following plenary lectures :
1. Greg Radick, Professor of History and Philosophy of Science, Director of the Leeds Humanities Research Institute, and President of the British Society for the History of Science.
Lecture title: "Mendel the Fraud? A Social History of Truth in Genetics."
Commonly people tend to know two things about Gregor Mendel: first, that he was the "monk in the garden" whose experiments with peas in mid-nineteenth-century Moravia became the starting point for genetics; and second, that, despite that exalted status, there is something fishy, maybe even fraudulent, about the data that Mendel reported. In the year (indeed the month) marking the 150th anniversary of Mendel's first lecture on his experiments, this talk will explore the cultural politics of this accusation of fraudulence against Mendel. Although the notion that Mendel's numbers were, in statistical terms, too good to be true was well understood almost immediately after the famous "rediscovery" of his work in 1900, the problem only became widely discussed and agonized over from the 1960s, for reasons having as much to do with Cold War geopolitics as with traditional concerns about the objectivity of science. Appreciating the Cold War origins of the problem as we have inherited it can, I will suggest, be a helpful step towards appreciating what's “really” wrong with Mendel's work -- and what, 150 years later, we should do about it.
2. Vassiliki Betty Smocovitis, Professor of History of Science, Departments of History and Biology, University of Florida.
Lecture title: "It's Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature: The History and Evolution of Infectious Disease."
Ebola, SARS, and HIV. The mere utterance of these terms incites fears of global epidemics, with catastrophic consequences that were thought diminished, if not eliminated by modern medicine only a generation ago; yet fears of epidemics now dominate the headlines, reminding us of our biological frailty in an era of mysterious new or “emerging” pathogens. This presentation, based on a popular course, seeks to understand our current situation in light of historical examples from the past and in light of evolutionary and ecological thinking. It focuses on what I term the “long history” of infectious disease in the way of understanding the historical specificity, or the distinct “signature” of a number of infectious diseases, and then locates them in an ecological as well as an evolutionary context. The lesson learned is that infectious disease is by definition a social process that takes on meaning and biological significance in the context of changing environments and social practices. Understanding the long history of infectious disease, in other words, enables us to think critically—and creatively— about emerging pathogens in terms of both biology and culture.
The lecture will be open to the public.
3. Gard Paulsen, historian and author of "Building Trust: The History of DNV, 1864 -2014."
Lecture title: "The Norwegian Truth: On the Legitimacy of Ship Classification and Commissioned History."
In 1864 the classification society Det norske Veritas (DNV) was established with the aim of providing “reliable and uniform classification and taxation of Norwegian ships”. In brief, the Norwegian Truth, as the name translates, judged the quality of Norwegian ships. The growth of DNV relied on its ability to make judgements that were considered valid by a range of stakeholders, such as shipowners, shippers, insurers, agents and traders. Today, DNV GL is the world’s largest classification society and provides a range of different services and consequently, its powers rests on an equally diversified set of arrangements. Drawing on my involvement in the writing of a 150 year anniversary history of DNV, I will discuss the relationship between the practice and the legitimacy of ship classification as an institution, but at the same time relate it to the practice and credibility of commissioned history. In particular, I will discuss how reliable and uniform assessments of the quality of ships were achieved in practice and how various “styles of reasoning” contributed to ship classification. In short, I will explicate how the “Norwegian truth” claimed by DNV, over time, rested on knowledge won through relationships, experience, experiments, engineering and science. Following this, I will relate the changing sources of institutional legitimacy of ship classification to the practice of writing its history. This comparison will attend to questions related to what constitutes historical knowledge to me as an historian, to a business such as DNV, and to a community of scholars.