The Global and Beyond: Adventures in the Local Historiographies of Science

TitleThe Global and Beyond: Adventures in the Local Historiographies of Science
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsNappi, C
ISBN Number0021-1753
KeywordsEpistemology, Globalization, Historical analysis, Science history

  As we strive for a more polyvocal history of science, historians have placed increasing emphasis on local case studies as a way to globalize the field. This tension between the local and the global extends to the practice as well as the content of the history of science, as the field has begun to pay more attention not just to local case studies, but also to local cultures of historiography. Many historians of science want multiple historiographical voices that take seriously the concerns and literatures in different linguistic and national contexts. As more journals urge translation into what are perceived as the dominant languages in "global" humanities discourses and scholars are encouraged to facilitate the Englishing of their historical research, many questions remain: In what ways does it make sense to nationalize or culturally locate individual cultures of the history of science? Is translation a democratic and positive force in the discipline, and/or does it kill local difference? Will it continue to be meaningful to talk about the history of science? A collective dialogue within the field depends on finding a way to take local diversity in historiography and epistemology seriously while translating that local difference into a meaningful common conversation. This essay considers the challenges of embracing multiple ways of knowing that might fall under the purview of the history of science, while wondering what that means for the coherence of the field as we move forward into the next century of work in Isis.