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MUSE seminar #1: From Material Culture to Material Heritage

Posted Jan 19 2012 4:53am

We are proud to invite to the first seminar in our new MUSE seminar series:

Roland Wittje, University of Regensburg

From Material Culture to Material Heritage History of Contemporary Science Beyond the Linguistic Turn

Auditorium, Medical Museion, Bredgade 62, DK-1260 Copenhagen K
Thursday 26 January, 3-4.40 pm

Abstract:

Getting our hands dirty in the messy worlds of the laboratory and the storage room, and to entangle with the commemorative practices of scientists and technicians when it comes to contemporary material heritage does not belong to the common experiences of historians of science. Studying contemporary laboratories and their materiality has so far been the domain of sociologists and ethnographers. Despite the recent ‘material turn’ in cultural studies, engagement with the material world often remains a linguistic exercise, extending at the utmost to an excursion to the sanitised and academically encultured world of the museum exhibit.

For historians of science, I argue, engaging with the ‘unfinished’ material world of contemporary science poses many opportunities. By taking the material seriously beyond the linguistic turn and exploring local university departments and their recent histories through their material heritage, we can observe everyday science and confront scientists and technicians’ cultures with those of historians’. By engaging with recent material heritage, we can make an important contribution to enhancing the awareness about this heritage, its implications for history writing, as well as its documentation and preservation.

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