Science in the City, 1500-1800 – *new deadline* 30 June 2019

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Date / time
Date(s) - 6 April - 7 April
10:00 am - 7:00 pm


This conference marks the end of Metropolitan Science: Places, Objects, and Cultures of Knowledge and Practice in Early Modern London, 1600-1800 research project, and the opening of a permanent gallery at the Science Museum. We are delighted to welcome Professor Pamela H. Smith of Columbia University, and leader of the Making and Knowing Project, as a keynote speaker.

Recent historical scholarship has helped uncover the variety and vitality of the scientific activity of mercantile, artisanal, and official communities. That breadth and richness represent a very important part of the total scientific activity of early modern London, and it follows that they must be accounted for in any effort to grasp the overall scientific culture of the metropole. This conference is an opportunity to consider the mutual impact of science and the city during a period when the power and significance of both were rapidly increasing.

We invite papers addressing these themes, assessing how natural knowledge and artificial practice were constituted, elaborated, and exchanged in metropolitan contexts. (We have no fixed definition of metropoles or cities, but a working assumption is that they are urban spaces and populations of regional importance at least, and a significant nexus of at least one of: long-distance trade; artisanal endeavour; commodity and/or financial exchange; offices of state; retail commerce.) Interventions speaking to methods, categories and practices that transcend particular communities, or compare different metropoles, are especially welcomed.

Themes of interest, or that might provide a basis for comparison of different cities, could include:

  • Metropolitan scientific communities – artisanal, official, commercial – and their interactions
  • Sites and spaces of metropolitan science (buildings, city geographies, infrastructures, vectors)
  • Networks (kinship, trade, craft, social, commercial) Resources and how to access them (materials, expertise, repositories)
  • Natural knowledge and artificial practice in civic governance Makers, materials and materiality, including the evidential role of surviving objects/collections
  • Science on display (whether in early modern cities, today’s museums or digital projects)

We invite abstracts (max. 350 words) for 20-minute individual papers, or for three-paper panels (max. 750 words). Please send these to by 30 June 2019.

The Metropolitan Science project is funded by the Leverhulme Trust. We are grateful to the IHR, Science Museum and Centre for the History of the Sciences at the University of Kent for support.

Location: Institute of Historical Research/ Science Museum, London