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Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine

Big pictures

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Jonathan Harwood's 1993 volume. Over the last two decades, historians have taken a renewed interest in the 'styles' of science in different institutions, regions and nations.

The methods of seeing science as part of history, pioneered between the wars and consolidated in the 1960s, helped produce masses of excellent case studies -- as they still do. But more recently, some historians of science have also sought new ways to go beyond the case-study format: new ways of analysing and presenting science, technology and medicine across space and time. Several members of CHSTM have helped to lead these stimulating developments.

Jon Harwood's book Styles of Scientific Thought (University of Chicago Press 1993) set new standards for the rigorous analysis of a discipline (genetics) as it was created in Germany with reference to the USA.

Flurin Condrau's book on tuberculosis in Britain and Germany is a model of comparative analysis, nicely demonstrating the rich gains to be achieved by going beyond the usual limits of national studies, and does his present work on occupational health.

Michael Worboys is well known for his early work on Tropical Science and Medicine, especially in the British Empire (circa 1880-1950). His PhD opened an area of study which is now one of the most fertile in HSTM. This interest in global perspectives is shared by several staff, especially Lyn Schumaker and Vladimir Jankovic.

John Pickstone's work on big-picture history grew from a conviction that we could find new and better frames for understanding both long-term change and the variety of technical work at any given time. This project, which draws on Foucault, Kuhn and  Weber, and from models of knowledge production in medicine, was developed in a series of articles from 1993, and in the book Ways of Knowing (Manchester University Press and Chicago, 2000/2001). He continues to explore these themes, through papers and conferences (eg the paper on 'Working Knowledge' in Isis, 2007); the project includes work on medical technologies, science-art relations, science-technology relations, the 'meanings of science', and the display of HSTM in museums. Ways of Knowing is now published in Chinese (2008).

The Centre also led the move towards treating the histories of science, technology and medicine as a single set of problems. Its integration of the histories of science, technology and medicine is now widely and profitably followed in both Britain and the USA. Such interactions are especially important for studies of recent history, as are our strong links with sociology of science, anthropology, science and medical policy, and the economic of innovation.

We welcome the collaboration of other scholars who share a commitment to historical analysis, bigger pictures, and engaged history.

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John Pickstone's 'Ways of Knowing' presents a new way of looking at the history of science, technology and medicine

Recent publications by CHSTM staff and students

John V Pickstone. "Working knowledges before and after circa 1800: practices and disciplines in the history of science, technology and medicine." Isis, 2007, 98: 489-516.

John V Pickstone and Roger Cooter, eds. Medicine in the twentieth century. Amsterdam: Harwood 2000 [paperback, London: Routledge 2003].

Flurin Condrau. Lungenheilanstalt und Patientenschicksal. Sozialgeschichte der Tuberkulose in Deutschland und England während des späten 19. und frühen 20. Jahrhunderts. Göttingen: Kritische Studien zur Geschichtswissenschaft, 2000.

John V Pickstone. Ways of Knowing: a new history of modern science, technology and medicine. Manchester University Press and University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Michael Worboys. "Colonial medicine as mission and mandate: leprosy and Empire, 1900-1940". Osiris, 2001, 15: 207-220. [Published as R MacLeod, ed, Nature and Empire: Science and the Colonial Enterprise]

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