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Publications of Andrew Mendesohn_7_2013
I am interested in how we know. History of science provides a discipline for pursuing this question empirically and for finding more than one answer – across times, places and fields of knowledge and know-how, even within them. I began by examining medicine’s bacteriological revolution, about which there was a story of triumph of one way of knowing, that of laboratory “reductionism.” Instead, in my doctoral dissertation and a series of research articles, I showed “two cultures” within one science and its equivocal legacy in 20th-century biomedicine. As this example suggests, I seek to understand the various and changing ways in which human beings have sought to know and control their world, where these ways come from, and how this has mattered to the futures that we make for ourselves.
I have pursued these questions widely, publishing on knowledge, politics, and society in the 16th through the 20th centuries and in German, French, British, and U.S. histories. My focus has been on the history of knowing and intervening in life, in both health and sickness.
Working outward from bacteriologists as experts and makers, I came to study the development of practices and standards of observation and reasoning outside the sciences – in governance and production. Observation and reasoning by physicians in their juridical and administrative roles is my current focus. Linking all of these domains is a history of mastering the world on paper.
I studied at Harvard and Princeton, where my fields were early modern and modern Europe and history of life sciences and medicine since the Enlightenment. I have taught in five countries and held permanent positions at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin (1997-2000), with which I continue to collaborate, and Imperial College London (2000-2012), where I served for five years as director of the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine and for six years as director of the doctoral programme, having also designed and launched Imperial’s undergraduate part-degree in history of medicine. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), the Centre was awarded the highest rating of all 83 history departments in the United Kingdom. In 2012 I joined the School of History at Queen Mary, University of London, as Reader in History of Science and Medicine.
Research Awards: Arts and Humanities Research Council, Wellcome Trust, Leverhulme Trust, Woodrow Wilson Foundation, Social Science Research Council and American Council of Learned Societies, French-American Foundation.
Visiting Professorships: Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris; Université Pierre et Marie Curie Paris VI; Tel Aviv University.