Sex, Race, and Reproduction. Configurations of Biological Knowledge Around 1800

Event Location: Vienna, Austria

Sponsor(s)/Host Institution(s): Institute for Human Sciences

Event Start Date: 06/12/2009

Event End Date: 06/14/2009

Event Contact E-mail Address: [email protected]

Additional Information:

Around 1800, the life sciences and the human sciences, including

philosophy in its modern form, were “in the making.” Mechanistic

explanations of natural life were increasingly criticized, and new

epistemic strategies towards “life” were formulated. In these

processes, knowledge concerning “human nature” was configured in

different ways and articulated from various political-ethical

perspectives. Scientific, philosophical, political-ethical, and

economic meanings overlapped in concepts of race, descent, inheritance

and reproduction as well as those of generation, procreation, sex and

sexuality. However, these concepts were not stable but highly

contested in regard to their epistemological as well as socio-cultural

status. In the order of knowledge the status of biology as a science

and social knowledge were far from being fixed. But, the political-

epistemological problems of naturalism and biological naturalization

that to this day still haunt the soci

al and human sciences, including philosophy, emerged at the horizon.

This interdisciplinary workshop aims at analyzing different

constellations of biological knowledge, i.e., the formation,

circulation and articulation of biological concepts in scientific,

philosophical and socio-political contexts. Questions to be discussed

are: what kind of epistemic strategies were formed in regard to the

emerging life sciences, how were they linked to politics of knowledge,

and, especially, how did political-epistemological strategies

referring to race and sex intersect.


Robert Bernasconi (Pennsylvania State University)

Staffan Müller-Wille (University of Exeter/Max-Planck-Institute for

the History of Science, Berlin)

Florence Vienne (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Tobias Cheung (Max-Planck-Institute for the History of Science, Berlin)

Sara Figal (Vanderbilt University, Nashville)

Penelope Deutscher (Northwestern University, Evanston)

Waltraud Ernst (University of Hildesheim)

Tristana Dini (Istituto Italiano di Scienze Umane, Napoli)

Petra Gehring (Technische Universität Darmstadt)