CfP: Perspectives for the history of the life sciences: New themes, new sources, new approaches

Date: October 30 – November 1, 2015
Location: Munich, Germany
Organizers: Kärin Nickelsen (LMU Munich) and Robert Meunier (University of Kassel)

There are themes in the biological and biomedical sciences that, for good reasons, play a disproportionate role in the historiography, such as evolutionary theory, genetics, molecular biology or medical bacteriology. In recent years, the history of the life sciences has widened its scope and looked beyond these undoubtedly important developments. And yet, there are still many areas in the biological sciences and many aspects of medicine that have not received the attention they deserve, such as, to name only a few, plant physiology, agricultural sciences, microbiology, research in metabolism, or the dissemination of biological technologies. More recent developments in the life sciences, those from the 1970s and 80s, have hardly been studied at all. The exploration of these, in particular, would greatly benefit from a closer connection between historiographies of the biological sciences, medicine and technology – as well as from an enhanced dialogue with philosophical and social studies of science, and their conceptual frameworks.

The conference aims to bring together historians of biology, medicine and related fields, as well as scholars in philosophy or social studies of science who address historical questions, in order to present and discuss new research directions in the history of the life sciences. The conference will be limited to the modern period, with a slight preference for contributions to the history of the more recent past. We encourage contributions that focus on new themes, or under-investigated fields; that make use of novel types of sources; or that develop new approaches to studying the generation, dissemination and transformation of knowledge about life and living things. We are particularly interested in studies that integrate approaches from the history, philosophy and/or social studies of science; this by no means implies, however, that “pure” historiography of relatively neglected themes and sources will be any less welcome.

We invite submissions of abstracts for individual presentations of 20 minutes, followed by 20 minutes of discussion. Abstracts should not exceed 250-300 words. Please submit titles and abstracts by 28 February 2015 to:

Hotel accommodations for two nights will be provided for those whose papers are accepted. There may be limited financial support for participants travelling from outside Europe. There are no conference fees, but participation in the conference dinner will be at the attendee’s expense.