The Material Turn and the History of Chemistry

A talk by Simon Werrett for the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry on 23 March 2021, which discusses Materials and Time among other projects.

Recent years have witnessed a “material turn” in the history of science interested in placing instruments, objects, materials and practice at the centre of historical accounts. In many ways the history of chemistry has always been a “material history”, yet the field has not always had the prominent place it deserves in the material turn. In this paper I reflect on several projects I have been involved with where history of chemistry and material histories come together. My work on “Compound Histories” (with Lissa Roberts) and “Thrifty Science” considered how a close engagement with object histories helps reveal broader approaches to materials at different times that shape chemical practices and social order. An ongoing project on “Materials and Time” (with Bernadette Bensaud-Vincent, Marie Thébaud-Sorger and others) examines a surprisingly varied array of temporalities in chemical substances, and raises the issue of collaborations between historians and chemists. Meanwhile discussions in Ambix and the Forum for the History of Chemical Sciences (FoHCS) are exploring the idea of a “Chemical Humanities” that would draw on diverse disciplines to make sense of the social and material world in novel ways. These projects argue for a more integrated appreciation of materials and chemistry, and offer exciting prospects for future research combining both fields.

You can watch the lecture here.



Citer ce billet
paskins (2021, 2 avril). The Material Turn and the History of Chemistry. Materials and Time. Consulté le 20 juin 2024, à l’adresse https://doi.org/10.58079/raih

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