Special Events

HSS Plenary Roundtable

Knowledge/Violence/Futures: History of Science and its Genealogies

DATE: 01 NOV 2018 TIME: 18:00–19:30 LOCATION: TBD


Abstract: Despite decades of scholarship in the history of science attentive to the global circulation of knowledge, the geographic center of prevailing genealogies of the history of science remains grounded in Western Europe, the alleged birthplace of the Scientific Revolution, and to tales of progress.  In this roundtable plenary, we invite panelists and the audience to collectively think together how the history of science and its genealogy might look different if we began, not from stories of progress and success, but from places of violence.  How might attention to regimes of knowledge and the extraction and exploitation of laboring bodies and resources, from the silver mines of Potosí to the slave plantations of the Caribbean, from sites of colonial conquest to the modern theater of war, reshape narratives of the history of science?  This panel invites us to attend to structures of power and knowledge embedded in imperial and capitalist formations, as well as the enduring layers of violence that persist and in which Western science has been complicit. Building from these starting points, how might such alternative narratives not just focus on violence, but create openings for different perspectives, voices, and potential futures? If we do not shirk from the difficult violent past and present of knowledge making, what other futures become possible?

Co-Organizers: Gregg Mitman and Michelle Murphy

Moderator: Gregg Mitman


  • Pablo Gómez, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Joseph Masco, University of Chicago
  • Michelle Murphy, University of Toronto
  • Kim TallBear, University of Alberta

See the Plenary Roundtable on the meeting program.

HSS Distinguished Lecture

Science v. the Sacred, a Dead-End Settler Ontology—And Then What?

DATE: 03 NOV 2018 TIME: 18:30–19:30 LOCATION: TBD

Abstract: Settler-colonial society works hard to separate so-called spirituality from the material. This worldview inhibits settler society grasping Indigenous knowledges as knowledge based on centuries of observations and intimate relations with other-than-human relatives. Instead, Indigenous peoples are viewed as exceedingly “spiritual,” and dominant scientific traditions (including the social sciences and humanities) tend to denigrate Indigenous understandings of the world as beliefs rather than knowledges. The knowledge/belief divide stems from a hierarchy of life that the sciences share with major religious traditions. Within this understanding of sentience and agency, some humans rank above others, and humans rank above other life forms. More recently, thinkers such as the “new materialists” and multi-species ethnographers commit themselves to understanding other-than-humans in less hierarchical and more “vibrant” or agential, if still secular terms. But that “ontological turn,” while fascinating, may not be a sufficiently encouraging response in this moment of settler-colonial existential crisis. For those paying attention, Indigenous worldviews compel and edify. That is not to say that Indigenous understandings of the world can save settler society from itself. Non-Indigenous people must learn to live well together here, and it does not look good. Nonetheless, in an act of edification, I bring Indigenous ideas of being in good relation into conversation with the more sensible ideas of thinkers working within the settler state academy.

Distinguished Lecturer:

See the Distinguished Lecture on the meeting program.

HSS Prize Ceremony

DATE: 02 NOV 2018 TIME: 18:00–18:45 LOCATION: TBD

Come and support the best scholarship in the history of science.

Sarton Medal The Sarton Medal, the most prestigious award of the History of Science Society, honors George Sarton, the founder of Isis and one of the founders of the modern phase in the history of science. It has been awarded annually since 1955 to an outstanding historian of science, selected from the international scholarly community.
Pfizer Award The Pfizer Award was established in 1958 through the generosity of Pfizer, Inc., a diversified research-based company. The award consists of a medal and $2,500. This prize is awarded in recognition of an outstanding book dealing with the history of science.
Derek Price/Rod Webster Prize The Price/Webster prize is given in recognition of excellence in a research article published in Isis.
Joseph H. Hazen Education Prize The Joseph H. Hazen Education Prize is awarded in recognition of outstanding contributions to the teaching of history of science.
Philip J. Pauly Prize The Philip Pauly Prize (formerly the Forum for the History of Science in America Prize) is awarded for the best first book on the history of science in the Americas (broadly defined to include North American science including Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and the United States) and written in English.
Ronald Rainger Prize The Rainger Prize was conceived in the Earth and Environment Forum (EEF), a lively group of scholars interested in histories of knowledge about the land, sea, and sky, and in all manner of physical, human and life sciences as they have been practiced outdoors, in transit, or on a global scale. Ronald Rainger (1949-2016) was a historian of geology, paleontology, biology, and oceanography who distinguished himself equally for his scholarly work and for his generosity to colleagues in the field. The Rainger Early Career Award commemorates Ron’s contributions in both respects. Furthermore, the Rainger Prize reflects HSS’s commitment to supporting emerging scholars and their work, especially digital works.
Margaret W. Rossiter History of Women in Science Prize This prize is awarded in recognition of an outstanding book (or, in even-numbered years, article) on the history of women in science. The book or article may take a biographical, institutional, theoretical, or other approach to the topic, which may include discussions of women’s activities in science, analyses of past scientific practices that deal explicitly with gender, and investigations regarding women as viewed by scientists.
Watson Davis and Helen Miles Davis Prize The Davis Prize honors books in the history of science directed to a wide public (including undergraduate instruction). They should be introductory in assuming no previous knowledge of the subject and in being directed to audiences of beginning students and general readers. They should introduce an entire field, a chronological period, a national tradition, or the work of a noteworthy individual.
Nathan Reingold Prize The Nathan Reingold Prize (formerly known as the Ida and Henry Schuman Prize) was established in 1955 by Ida and Henry Schuman of New York City for an original graduate student essay on the history of science and its cultural influences.
Suzanne J. Levinson Prize The Suzanne J. Levinson Prize is to be awarded biennially for a book in the history of the life sciences and natural history. For 2016, the book must have been written in the previous 4 years to be eligible, meaning books written in 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012 can be nominated. In establishing the prize, Mark Levinson honors his wife Suzanne J. Levinson, who was especially interested in the history of evolutionary theory, microbiology, and botany.

See the Prize Ceremony on the meeting program.

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