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Research themes

The different themes under study at the CAK can be synthetically grouped into three major directions of research:

Reflexivity through historiography. The aim is to rethink and write the history of science and technology in the long 20th century, including its objects, actors, and methods.

The global dimensions of the history of science and technology are at the heart of many research projects at the Centre. Putting them in perspective highlights the historicity of their configurations since the 16th century and the interplay of scales, as well as their relevance to political, social, and economic undertakings.

Nature/culture : this pair of concepts has been fundamentally reconsidered following critical investigations emphasizing its historicity. But elsewhere, in particular in studies of language, the brain, the environment or the body, this dichotomy has been reasserted and reformulated, presenting a major challenge for historians of science and technology, and beyond for the human and social sciences.

Research at the Centre is organised in a number of thematic clusters:

Early Modern Science and knowledge

This group contributes to the renewal of the study of early modern science and knowledge following two major directions, that pick up on the tranformations that the social sciences and history in particular have witnessed in the last two decades: the reconsideration of the very notion of science for the early modern period; and an investigation around the actors, spaces and places of its study.

Social and cultural history of mathematical knowledge

This group aims at a radical historicization of mathematics, starting from a study of its practices in Antiquity, premodern and modern times. It functions as a multidisciplinary workshop where research on mathematics is approached using a range of methods from the social sciences, including social and cultural history, anthropology, philology, etc.

Entangled history of the science of man, body and nature

The research carried out by this group considers the concept of the “sciences of man” in its greatest possible extension. “Entangled history” refers to an approach that does not reproduce disciplinary distinctions but questions them. In particular, it studies the relations of the “sciences of man” with two other important sets of scientific productions: the “sciences of the body”, e.g. the history of medical knowledge, and the “sciences of Nature”, whose heterogeneity is questioned using the sciences of man.

Knowledge of nature: history, epistemology and politics

The researchers of the Centre that are concerned by the themes covered by the Muséum d’histoire naturelle carry out their work in partnership with this institution. Three main directions of research can be distinguished: the history of the Muséum and its collections; the history of the natural sciences in context and the philosophy of ecology; and the analysis of the ways in which the modes of knowing and managing Nature and the Earth system are interwoven in historically changing ways.

Science, globalisation, governing societies and the environment

Research in this group stretches from the 19th century to now. It works on the physical and chemical sciences and their related engineering counterparts and the issues of climate evolution and biodiversity, which are all revealing of the relations between scientific, industrial, economic and political actors, but also of the history of the joint transformations of knowledges into life sciences, and the forms of governing life and Nature.

History, representations and politics of the sky and the cosmos

This group studies a particular milieu, the cosmos, through a diversity of approches (geographical, physical, sociological, political) in order to write a history of the intertwined study of the terrestrial, circumterrestrial and extraterrestrial spaces and their different practices, from the end of the 18th century to now.

Evolution, temporality and genesis in technology

This group reconsiders historical and epistemological thinking on technology. One of its major areas of investigation is “technological thinking and writing”, that enables a reflexive approach to the object of study and the modalities of research. Not only mental but also material tools are studied, based on an investigation of writings about practice. In these writings, a large place is given to discourses aimed at creating a science of technology, but also to those who seek to promote the activities of technologists and users.


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Centre Alexandre-Koyré

Campus Condorcet / bât. EHESS
2 cours des Humanités
93322 Aubervilliers cedex