The British Society for the History of Science (BSHS) Pickstone Prize is this country’s most prestigious award for the best scholarly book in the history of science and medicine in English. The BSHS is delighted to announce the 2018 shortlist.
The five shortlisted books represent exciting new advances in understanding and interpreting science’s past. They are:
1. Paola Bertucci, Artisanal Enlightenment: Science and the Mechanical Arts in Old Regime France (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017)
Reconsiders the role of learned artisans, placing them at the heart of the French Enlightenment.
2. Surekha Davies, Renaissance Ethnography and the Invention of Humans: New Worlds, Maps and Monsters (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016)
Reveals how cannibalism was cooked up by Europeans as a way of defining the ‘strangeness’ of people in Brazil.
3. Rohan Deb Roy, Malarial Subjects: Empire, Medicine and Nonhumans in British India, 1820-1909 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017)
Ambitiously interweaves the histories of malaria and cinchona (used for quinine) to show how knowledge and practices became ‘global’.
4. Jutta Schickore, About Method: Experimenters, Snake Venom, and the History of Writing Scientifically (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017)
Uncovers the weird and wonderful experiments conducted to understand the power and action of snake venom.
5. Michael Wintroub, The Voyage of Thought: Navigating Knowledge across the Sixteenth-Century World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017)
Takes its readers on a French mission to carve out an empire in the Indies and conducts them through the oceans of 16th-century thought.
The BSHS Pickstone Prize is awarded every two years, and reflects the Society’s mission to promote excellence in the history of science, technology and medicine. The prize was established to honour the late historian of science Professor John Pickstone (1944-2014).
The judging panel for the 2018 Pickstone Prize was chaired by Dr Tim Boon (Head of Research and Public History, Science Museum). It included Dr Patricia Fara (University of Cambridge), Professor Charlotte Sleigh (University of Kent and Editor of the British Journal for the History of Science) and Dr Elizabeth Haines (University of Bristol).
Tim Boon said: ‘The panel found shortlisting very painful: to select a longlist of only 11 from the 32 wide-ranging recommendations covering many periods, parts of the world and subjects, already provoked much debate. Our shortlist of five books retains great diversity, readability and seriousness. We can be confident that scholarly writing in the history of science – which the Pickstone Prize rewards – is in very good health.’
The winner of the Pickstone Prize will be announced in September 2018.
The value of the Pickstone Prize is £300. The winner will be asked to give a presentation, sponsored by the BSHS, on the subject of their book.