class="csc-frame csc-frame-default"Who draws the line between knowledge and ignorance?

Zentrum Geschichte des Wissens

Universität Zürich

Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich

Zentrum Geschichte des Wissens

Universität Zürich

Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich

WHAT IS THE ZGW?

Portrait

The Center »History of Knowledge« (ZGW) is a scientific center of excellence of the University of Zurich (Center of Competence) and the ETH Zurich (D-GESS) that aims to promote and coordinate cultural, historical and philosophical research and teaching on modern knowledge systems and knowledge societies. The ZGW is a center for scientific research as well as a platform for public reflection on the role of knowledge in modern societies.

As decreed by the Board of Directors of the University of Zurich, the Center »History of Knowledge« was established as a joint center of the ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich effective January 1, 2005 and once again accredited January 1, 2010.

Currently, ZGW faculty comprises twelve professors from the University of Zurich and seven professors of the ETH Zurich. At the moment the associated faculty consists of 32 members (Post-Doc`s). In this way, we bring together expertise in theoretical and practical philosophy, literary and cultural as well as historical science (history of science, art, medicine, architecture, technology and global history), creating a strong interdisciplinary, internationally-oriented research group.

The ZGW also has a master program and a SUK-doctoral program.

Our Research

To begin with: The ZGW has no unité de doctrine. Our common starting point is rather an assumption: We assume that the historical development of knowledge – with all its epistemic, technological, and cultural premises as well as its consequences – has to be understood as an open-ended process. Therefore, our center sees itself as a place where we reflect on knowledge dynamics from a historical, cultural and philosophical perspective.
In order to avoid premature epistemic demarcations in the analysis of modern knowledge societies, e.g. between scientific and popular knowledge, we put our methodical focus on the circulations of different forms of knowledge through society. This means we ask how scientific, technical and medical forms of knowledge, as well as its practices, semantics and materiality, are generated, sustained and how they decline and turn obsolete. Moreover, we cultivate a certain sensibility concerning non-scientific forms of knowledge and their impact on values and practices in the Lebenswelt.

The key category of our center, i.e. »knowledge«, is distinct from the term used traditionally in science and the history of science:

Forms of Knowledge
Knowledge includes academic, but also various forms of non-academic »public« and »popular« knowledge. This dynamic and complex concept of knowledge differs substantially from the old epistemic privilege of scientific knowledge.

Circulation of Knowledge
Knowledge circulates within and between social spheres. In these exchange processes between academic and non-academic forms of knowledge, new knowledge is generated, disseminated and continually changed.

Practices of Knowledge
Knowledge is not free-floating: On the one hand, knowledge is associated with institutions, thus, it is part of power structures; on the other hand, knowledge is always intertwined with and constituted by physical practices, It depends on media, representation and visualization techniques, as well as forms of speech and discourse.

See our projects.

For further reading:
Pidgin-Knowledge. Wissen und Kolonialismus (Harald Fischer-Tiné 2013)
Was ist Wissensgeschichte? (Philipp Sarasin 2011)
Wissensgeschichte - Eine Standortbestimmung (David Gugerli 2012)
All editorials of our Yearbook for the History of Knowledge (since 2005)

Our Teaching

Demand
We live in the age of knowledge. Therefore, we need experts for the epistemic, economic, political, social, ethic and aesthetic premises and consequences of the production and circulation of knowledge. The knowledge society needs academically trained strategists who are able to analyze different bodies of knowledge and their entanglements. We need professionals who are able to translate scientific knowledge into a discourse which is intelligible for all.

Offer
Since 2007, our competence center houses a graduate center with, at present, 26 PhD students and a master program with, at present, 44 students. In addition, we offer various courses for PhD students and master students of the ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich, e.g. an introduction into the history and philosophy of knowledge.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Program Fall 2020


CANCELLED Public Lecture & Talk, September 28
: Prof. Dr. Armin Nassehi (invited) on digital society, talk with Prof. Dr. Monika Dommann (UZH), at the Literaturhaus Zürich 

CANCELLED Public Lecture & Talk, October 8: Prof. Dr. Massimiano Bucchi (Trento) on the public understanding of science in Italy

POSTPONED TO SPRING 2021 Public Lecture, October 14: Prof. Amos Morris-Reich (Tel Aviv University)

Knowledge in Society #24, November 11: with Dr. Janina Kehr (Bern) and Prof. Dr. Flurin Condrau (UZH) on the health system in times of Corona

Knowledge in Society #25, November 25: with Prof. Dr. Adrian Daub (Stanford) on the Silicon Valley and the intellectual histories of digital capitalism, talk with Dr. Monika Wulz (ETHZ) and Prof. Dr. Michael Hagner (ETHZ)

COVID 19: Das Schutzkonzept für einzelne Veranstaltung wird jeweils zwei Wochen vor der Veranstaltung hier auf unserer Webseite kommuniziert. Bitte informieren Sie sich dann an dieser Stelle, auch über Möglichkeiten, die jeweilige Veranstaltung online mitzuverfolgen.

The New Book Forum #1: Suman Seth

The New Book Forum #1
Science, Medicine, Environment
December 3, 2020, 4-5pm
online (poster)

Prof. Suman Seth (Cornell University)
Difference and Disease. Medicine, Race, And the Eighteenth-Century British Empire

hosts: Dr. Lisa Haushofer (UZH, History of Medicine) and Monique Ligtenberg M.A. (ETHZ, History of the Modern World) / registration for Zoom link here.

The New Book Forum: Science, Medicine, Environment is a new collaborative initiative organized by scholars at the ZGW, the Chair of Science Studies at ETH, and the Chair of History of Medicine at UZH, to showcase and discuss new books in the histories of science, medicine, and environment with their authors. In light of the ongoing pandemic, the New Book Forum seeks to provide authors with a platform to present their books outside of the traditional conference circle, and to connect researchers at our institutions in Zurich with the newest scholarship in these fields.

Wissen in Gesellschaft #24

November, 25 2020

Wie denkt das Valley? Eine Ideengeschichte des digitalen Kapitalismus
(Poster / Flyer)

Lecture by Prof. Dr. Adrian Daub (Stanford University, literature), and a discussion with Dr. Monika Wulz and Prof. Dr. Michael Hagner (both ETHZ / ZGW).

in cooperation with the Chair for Science Studies at the ETH Zürich. 

Online event, 6:30–8 pm. 18:30–20:00 Uhr. Zoom-meeting link (Meeting-ID: 992 8558 7009 Code: 779717)

Wissen in Gesellschaft #23

November 11, 2020

Medizin nach COVID19? Gesundheit und Gesellschaft in Zeiten der Pandemie
(Poster/Flyer)

with short inputs by Dr. Janina Kehr (Medizinanthropologin, Universität Bern) and Prof. Dr. Flurin Condrau (Medizinhistoriker, Universität Zürich) and a discussion afterwards.

Online only, 6:30 pm, here (zoom-meeting link), Meeting-ID: 953 0711 2092 Kenncode: 195368

ZGW Colloquium

CANCELLED!
October 8, 2020


Lecture by Prof. Dr. Massimiano Bucchi (University of Trento & ETH guest professor for Italian literature and culture).

Scienza, tecnologia e opinione pubblica in Italia / Science, technology and public opinion in Italy
(Flyer, in Italian with German translation)

After the lecture there will be a talk with the historian Prof. Dr. Monika Dommann (UZH / ZGW).

Place & Time: ETH Zürich, Rämistrasse 101 HG D 1.2, 6.15-8pm

COVID 19: Das Schutzkonzept für die Veranstaltung wird zwei Wochen vor der Veranstaltung hier auf unserer Webseite kommuniziert. Bitte informieren Sie sich dann an dieser Stelle, auch über Möglichkeiten, den Abend online mitzuverfolgen.

Sensory and Emotional Experiences

Practices of Mind-Body Medicine in the 20th Century
September 28-29, 2020


Workshop with Prof. Staffan Bergwik (Stockholm) and PD Dr. Anja Laukötter (Berlin/Strasbourg)
Flyer

Venue: University of Zurich, FSW (Seminar room) Rämistrasse 64, 8001 Zurich
Organized by the ZGW Doctoral Program (Leander Diener, Sarah Scheidmantel, Josephine Selander)

Zum COVID19 Schutzkonzept kontaktieren Sie bitte die OrganisatorInnen.

NEWS & MEDIA APPEARANCE

The New Book Forum

The New Book Forum: Science, Medicine, Environment is a new collaborative initiative organized by scholars at the ZGW, the Chair of Science Studies at ETH, and the Chair of History of Medicine at UZH, to showcase and discuss new books in the histories of science, medicine, and environment with their authors. In light of the ongoing pandemic, the New Book Forum seeks to provide authors with a platform to present their books outside of the traditional conference circle, and to connect researchers at our institutions in Zurich with the newest scholarship in these fields.

The first meeting takes place online on December 3, 4-5pm, with Prof. Suman Seth (Cornell University) on his book Difference and Disease. Medicine, Race, And the Eighteenth-Century British Empire (further info).

The Political and the Epistemic in the Twentieth Century: Historical Perspectives

Kijan Espahangizi & Monika Wulz (eds.)

KNOW – A Journal on the Formation of Knowledge 4 (2), 2020
Chicago, IL: Univ. of Chicago Press

introduction
more

Data Centers. Edges of a Wired Nation

Monika Dommann, Hannes Rickli, Max Stadler (eds.)
Lars Müller Publishing: Zurich, 2020

more

Academic Guest

We are happy to welcome Prof. Dr. Amos Morris-Reich as our academic guest at the ZGW in fall semester 2020 (September – October) in our exchange program with the Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas at Tel Aviv University. He will be teaching a seminar on the history of scientific racism and having a public talk on October 14 in the Cabaret Voltaire resp. online (see the further announcements).

CORONA-VIRUS

All ZGW events are cancelled due to the Corona outbreak until further notice. We will try to postpone them to fall 2020. 

Publication

Kriegsmaterial im Kalten Krieg – Le matériel de guerre pendant la guerre froide
Rüstungsgüter in der Schweiz zwischen Militär, Industrie, Politik und Öffentlichkeit L’armement en Suisse – entre l’armée, l’industrie, la politique et le public
(Itinera 47)

Monika Dommann, Sibylle Marti (eds.), Schwabe: Basel/Berlin, 2020
more