History of Science and Medicine; Techonological and Digital History

HIST 25217  Decolonizing Science  (J. Niermeier-Dohoney, Teaching Fellow)  What does science look like from the perspective of colonized, indigenous, or otherwise marginalized people? How has science been used to justify domination during the age of imperialism? Can science and technology ever be morally neutral? How universal is science? What ways of knowing have existed in the past that provided systematic explanations for natural phenomena? This course will ask these and other questions about the global practice of the sciences from prehistory to the present and, when possible, view the sciences from the perspective of non-Western people. We will examine both the contributions of non-Western cultures to modern science as well the use of the sciences by Western powers as tools of colonization. We will also examine the methodological, epistemological, and ontological assumptions made by modern science and attempt to tease out some of their more problematic aspects. Topics may include the development of Islamic, Chinese, and Indian sciences; pre-Columbian mathematics and botany; indigenous cosmologies and astronomy; practical knowledge (e.g., Papuan taxonomic systems, Polynesian navigational astronomy, and West African botanical medicine); the use of science as a tool of subjugation or resistance; the racialization of medicine; phrenology, eugenics, and social Darwinism; indigenous resistance to nuclear weapons, fossil fuel companies, agribusiness, and climate change.

HIST 29425  Ships, Trains, and Planes: A Global History of Vessels and Voyagers, 18th Century to the Present  (C. Fawell, Von Holst Prize Lecturer)  From La Amistad to the airplanes of September 11, vessels make history. And yet, we often take for granted the fact that they also contain history. Investigating the sociocultural pasts of vessels and the politics of mobility, this course poses two overarching questions. How have ships, trains, and airplanes shaped the behavior and outlooks of modern humans, and how has the experience of being in transit evolved over the past three centuries? Beginning with sailing ships of the eighteenth century and winding its way to the airplane via steamships and railways, the course explores how vehicles and transit have inspired and coerced humans into unique forms of subjectivity. Through case studies and primary sources from across world history, vessels in transit will be analyzed as engines of modernity and sites of emancipation, but also as tools of terror and laboratories of power.