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Panel V: Between Continuity and Epistemic Rupture: Negotiating Change in the Chinese History of Science and Technology

Huang Yongping (1954-2019) - La Carte du Monde 2000

Huang Yongping (1954-2019) - La Carte du Monde 2000

In line with the broader theme of the annual conference, this panel seeks to investigate and question discontinuities in the Chinese history of science and technology with a focus on the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, which saw the introduction of numerous novel scientific concepts, theories, and disciplines. The resulting rise of a scientific worldview – coupled with the broader political and social changes – has often been described as an “epistemic rupture” but the exact contours of such a rupture – and whether it has been perceived as such by contemporaries – remain difficult to ascertain. By focusing on a variety of specific actors and cases, this panel seeks to attain a better understanding of how change and discontinuity was negotiated at the time. Contributions shall therefore consider in how far questions of change or continuity feature in their respective cases both in the narrative strategies of the actors as well as on the analytical level. They shall also pay special attention to how specific scientific theories and disciplines – or modern science and technology as a whole – were presented, legitimized, or situated in comparison to alternative or pre-existing epistemic categories and traditions.


June 16, 2023, 14:00 – 15:30


Chair: Sebastian Conrad (Freie Universität Berlin)

Chen Hailian (Leipzig University / Fellow Heidelberg)

Converging Western Science of Nature and Chinese Art of Human-Nature Interactions: Reflections on a Japanese- and German-Trained Engineer-Reformer Ma Junwu’s (1881–1940) Educational Practices

Emily Tsui (MPI for the History of Science, Berlin / Former Team Member Heidelberg)

Tan Sitong and the Ether

Sally Chengji Xing (MPI for the History of Science, Berlin / Columbia University / Fellow Göttingen)

Teaching Applied Sciences or Research Pure Sciences? —Debates about the Prioritized Sponsorship of Science when China Foundation was Established in 1924

Matthias Schumann (University of Heidelberg)

Economic Development, National Sovereignty, and the Fight against Superstitions: Fei Hongnian 費鴻年 (1900–1993) and the Diverse Roles of Zoology in Republican China (1912–1949)