Working Groups

History and Theory

The History and Theory Working Group focuses on theoretical and methodological issues such as philosophy of history, historical research, interpretation, and narrative—not necessarily confined to the history of science. The working group 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 3:30 to 5:00 on second Fridays. 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.



  • Robert Brain

    Robert Michael Brain is an associate professor at the University of British Columbia. He specializes in the history of science, technology, and medicine, and European cultural history.


  • Edward Jones-Imhotep

    Edward Jones-Imhotep is Associate Professor of History at York University. He specializes in the history of science and technology, and in modern cultural history.


  • Dana Simmons

    Dana Simmons is Associate Professor of History at U.C. Riverside specializing in the history of science and technology. Her research interests include hunger, nutrition, soil and plant science, political economy, the human sciences, feminist theory and technoscientific utopias.


Upcoming Meetings (all times Eastern)

  • Tuesday, November 7, 2017 - 2:30pm

    Note Special Day and Time
    James C. Scott, The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), Chapters 4, 6, 6.5, 7 and Conclusion.
    Continuing conversations around anti-stadial theories of history, shatter zones, friction, political agency and the objects of history, capture, enclosure, fugitivity and refuge. And whether eating roots is more fun than growing grain.
    For those who were unable to join us for discussion of the first chapters, you can catch up on essential points in this 20 -minute recording, in which Scott discusses his thesis:

  • Friday, December 8, 2017 - 12:00pm


  • Friday, January 12, 2018 - 3:30pm


  • Friday, February 9, 2018 - 3:30pm


  • Friday, March 9, 2018 - 3:30pm


  • Friday, April 13, 2018 - 3:30pm


Past Meetings

  • October 13, 2017

    James C. Scott, The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), pp. 1-97. If you are pressed for time, we will focus on the Introduction and Chapter 3.
    As a supplement, you may find useful this 20-minute discussion of the book produced by Yale University:

  • May 2, 2017

    Povinelli, Elizabeth A. Geontologies:  A Requiem to Late Liberalism. Durham: Duke University Press, 2016. Chapters 1 & 2.


  • April 4, 2017

    Donna Haraway, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Cthulucene (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2016): 1-8, 30-57, 99-103.


  • March 7, 2017
    Karen Barad, “Posthumanist Performativity: Toward an Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter,” Signs 28 (2003): 801-31.
    Yvonne Marshall and Benjamin Alberti, “A Matter of Difference: Karen Barad, Ontology, and Archaeological Bodies,” Cambridge Archaeological Journal 24 (2014): 21-36.



  • February 7, 2017
    Brown, Bill. 2016.   "Chapter 1: Things in theory," Other Things. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press.
    Latour, Bruno. 2000. "The Berlin key or how to do words with things," in Graves-Brown, P. ed., Matter, Materiality, and Modern Culture. London ; New York: Routledge.
  • December 6, 2016
    The group discussed two readings:
    Bill Brown, “Overture” and “Coda” from Other Things (Chicago ; London: The University of Chicago Press, 2015);
    Bill Brown, “Thing Theory,” Critical Inquiry 28, no. 1 (2001): 1–22.
  • November 1, 2016

    The group discussed two articles: Marisol De La Cadena, "Indigenous Cosmopolitics in the Andes: Conceptual Reflections beyond 'Politics,'" Cultural Anthropology 25, no. 2 (May 1, 2010): 334-70 and Tim Ingold, "Materials against Materiality," Archaeological Dialogues 14, no. 1 (June 2007): 1-16.

  • October 4, 2016

    This year's theme for the History & Theory Working Group is "ontology and materiality." They began with a discussion of two essays: Greg Anderson's "Retrieving the Lost Worlds of the Past: The Case for an Ontological Turn" and Paul Roth's "Ways of Pastmaking."

  • May 3, 2016

    The group discussed Michel Serres with Bruno Latour, Conversations on Science, Culture, and Time (Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 1995): 43-76, and John Zammito, “History/Philosophy/Science: Some Lessons for Philosophy of History,” History and Theory 50 (2011): 390-413. Some group members also read Serres, “Mathematics and Philosophy: What Thales Saw...” in Hermes: Literature, Science, Philosophy (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982): 84-97.

  • April 5, 2016

    The group will discuss Andrew Shryock and Daniel Lord Smail, Deep History: The Architecture of Past and Present (University of California Press, 2011), Ch 1 & 2. If time permits, members are encouraged to also read Daniel Lord Smail, On Deep History and the Brain (University of California Press, 2008), Ch. 4, and Michael Bentley, “Past and ‘Presence’: Revisiting Historical Ontology,” History and Theory 45 (October 2006): 349-361.

Group Membership