The time that the history of science was about particular individuals of genius and their discoveries is now in the past. In recent decades historiographical attention has shifted from the scientists and their ideas to the broader social and cultural processes of knowledge production. As a result, the role of institutions, networks, money and power has received more attention, as have the parts played by spatial and material aspects such as architecture, infrastructure, instruments and animals. Among other things, historians sought the answer to the question of how and why certain forms of knowledge were accepted as true or authoritative in a particular context, while others were not. This has led to the scientists themselves coming back into the picture.
What expectations must scholars meet in a particular period and particular discipline in order to be accepted as a ‘scientist’? Did having a long beard, a reclusive way of life and weak physical constitution show that someone was learned, or on the contrary, were these indications of being unsuitable to pursue a scientific career? Could a black woman give just as great an impression of learning as a white man? And how did individual scholars deal with the collective cultural images of what a ‘real’ scientist should be?
The concept of ‘persona’ can help us here: it focuses attention on the cultural limits within which a person can be or can become a scientist in a particular period. The mutual influence of the changing collective standards and individual strategies is of central importance. In this special issue under the guest editorship of the historian Herman Paul, the potential of this concept in the history of science and intellectual history is explored – a first for the historiography of the Low Countries.
On behalf of the editors, Kaat Wils
Table of Contents
- From the Editors – Redactioneel
- Introduction: Scholarly Personae: Repertoires and Performances of Academic Identity – Herman Paul
- Exemplum and Wundertier: Three Concepts of the Scholarly Persona – Gadi Algazi
- Scholarly Personae and Twentieth-Century Historians: Explorations of a Concept – Mineke Bosch
- Anton Pannekoek’s Epistemic Virtues in Astronomy and Socialism: Personae and the Practice of Science – Chaokang Tai and Jeroen van Dongen
- Henri Pirenne: Historian and Man of the World – Sarah Keymeulen
- The Scholar as Judge: A Contested Persona in Nineteenth-Century Orientalism – Christiaan Engberts
- Fit to travel: The Exchange Programme of the Belgian American Educational Foundation: An Institutional Perspective on Scientific Persona Formation (1920-1940) – Pieter Huistra and Kaat Wils
- Sources of the Self: Scholarly Personae as Repertoires of Scholarly Selfhood – Herman Paul
- List of reviewed books – Lijst van recensies
Click here to download and read the articles, or to look at the list of book reviews.