The Working Group on the History of the Biological Sciences meets monthly to discuss a colleague’s work in progress or to discuss readings that are of particular interest to participants.
Meetings are usually held at the Consortium offices in Philadelphia from 6:30 to 8:00 on first Thursdays. Scholars located anywhere can also participate online.
To join this working group, click "Request group membership" at right. You will receive instructions for participating online or in person.
Rosanna Dent is an assistant professor at NJIT, where she teaches courses on the history of science, medicine, and technology, with an emphasis on the global South. She is currently working on a book manuscript on the history of twentieth century research in Xavante (Indigenous) communities in Central Brazil. The book examines how a half-century of iterative interactions of scholars and community members have shaped knowledge production as well as the political and social realities of both subjects and scholars.
M. Susan Lindee
Susan Lindee is Janice and Julian Bers Professor of the History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania and Chair of the Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine. Her work explores historical and contemporary questions raised by genetics, nuclear weapons and radiation risk. Her books include Suffering Made Real, The DNA Mystique, and Moments of Truth in Genetic Medicine.
Upcoming Meetings (all times Eastern)
Thursday, March 5, 2020 - 6:30pm to 8:00pm
We will discuss Christine Keiner's paper, "A Two-Ocean Bouillabaisse: Science, Politics, and the Central American Sea-Level Canal Controversy" Journal of the History of Biology 50, no. 4 (2017):835–887. This paper won the 2019 Everret Mendelsohn Award from the JHB.
Thursday, April 2, 2020 - 6:30pm to 8:00pm
Eben Kirksey (Institute for Advanced Study, Deakin University) will join us to discuss a chapter of his forthcoming book, The Mutant Project: Inside the Global Race to Genetically Modify Humans.
Thursday, May 7, 2020 - 6:30pm to 8:00pm
Maile Arvin (University of Utah) will join us to discuss "Conditionally Caucasian: Polynesian Racial Classification in Early Twentieth-Century Eugenics and Physical Anthropology," chapter two of her recently published book Possessing Polynesians: The Science of Settler Colonial Whiteness in Hawai`i and Oceania. Durham: Duke University Press, 2019.
- February 6, 2020
December 5, 2019
Sara Ray, PhD student, University of Pennsylvania
The Monsters of Peter and Wolff: Monstrous Births and Anatomical Collecting in the Formation of Developmental Embryology, 1697-1782
Description from Sara:
"In the basement of the Russian Academy of Sciences there was--according to the eighteenth century embryologist Caspar Wolff--a "storehouse of monsters." Wolff was describing the hundreds of abnormal human fetuses which had been collected and preserved by Tsar Peter the Great half a century earlier--a collection which Peter had established in order to inquire into the causes of monstrosity and processes of generation. This paper treats the history of Peter's curious collection (and Wolff's use of it as research material in his theory of epigenesis) as a unique vantage point from which to revisit the eighteenth-century shift toward developmental embryology."
November 7, 2019
Please join us to meet with Gina Surita, Princeton University PhD student. Her paper "The Power of Phosphate: Making and Breaking Bonds in Wartime" is now posted.
October 3, 2019
Our guest: Tom Quick, Research Associate, Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, University of Manchester and 2019 DeBakey Fellow at the National Library of Medicine.We will be looking at two readings:First, a shortened version (a summary) of an article currently under revision for The Historical Journal, and second, a work in progress that Quick will submit to ajournal in the near future.Short summary of: A “New Race” in the Making: British Domestic Colonialism, Animal Breeding, and Early Genetics.Full draft of: Once Bitten: Mosquitoes, Madness and Malariologists in the Making of Ecological Epidemiology.
September 5, 2019
Geoff Bil, "System and Sensibility: Indigenous Plant Names Between Nature and Artifice"
May 2, 2019
Joanna Radin, Department of History, Yale University, "Rescaling Colonial Life From the Indigenous to the Alien: The Late 20th Century Search for Human Biological Futures"
April 4, 2019
Paul Wolff Mitchell, Department of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania will present "The fault in his seeds: Lost notes to the case of bias in Samuel George Morton's cranial race science" from PloS Biol 16(10), and a work in progress, "'Bodily and Spiritually Lowered and Degraded' Tiedemann, Morton, and Enslaved Africans in the Formation of 19th Century Racial Craniology".
March 7, 2019
Jay Aronson, "Humanitarian DNA Identification in Post-Apartheid South Africa." An additional article, "The Strengths and Limitations of South Africa’s Search for Apartheid-Era Missing Persons," is included as optional reading.
February 21, 2019
Note Special Date
Rosanna Dent, "Exemplary Indigenous Masculinity in Cold War Genetics"
December 11, 2018
Note Special Day CH 6: "Improving Breed II: Science" from Michael Worboys, Julie-Marie Strange, and Neil Pemberton, The Invention of the Modern Breed and Blood in Victorian Britain (JHU Press, 2018). The book's conclusion is included in the file as optional additional reading.