Biological Sciences (inactive)
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.
Please set your timezone at https://www.chstm.org/user
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Participants at Consortium activities will treat each other with respect and consideration to create a collegial, inclusive, and professional environment that is free from any form of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.
Participants will avoid any inappropriate actions or statements based on individual characteristics such as age, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, nationality, political affiliation, ability status, educational background, or any other characteristic protected by law. Disruptive or harassing behavior of any kind will not be tolerated. Harassment includes but is not limited to inappropriate or intimidating behavior and language, unwelcome jokes or comments, unwanted touching or attention, offensive images, photography without permission, and stalking.
Participants may send reports or concerns about violations of this policy to firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are no currently scheduled upcoming events.
May 7, 2020
Maile Arvin (University of Utah) will join us to discuss the introduction to Part I of her book, "The Polynesian Problem: Scientific Production of the 'Almost White' Polynesian Race" and Chapter Two "Conditionally Caucasian: Polynesian Racial Classification in Early Twentieth-Century Eugenics and Physical Anthropology" of her recently published book Possessing Polynesians: The Science of Settler Colonial Whiteness in Hawai`i and Oceania. Durham: Duke University Press, 2019.
April 2, 2020
March 5, 2020
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.
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, 2019Our 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".