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Roundtable discussion "Ignorance and Its Resources: China and Beyond"

May 17, 2022 | 01:30 PM - 03:00 PM

The Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG) is having a roundtable discussion, with Emily Mae Graf (postdoctoral researcher of the Joint Center’s project “A Translingual Conceptual History of Chinese Worlds”), Anna Lisa Ahlers and Chun Xu (both MPIWG) as discussants.

The roundtable discussion will deal with the systematic production of ignorance, or Nichtwissen, in China’s past and present. Continuing the discussion in a recent special issue of JHoK on the topic, the discussants see ignorance here not as a mere lack of knowledge, but as “obstacles to and distortions of knowledge”, which were at times actively sought after and consciously produced for varied purposes. Organizing knowledge, they argue, involves not only the work of ordering knowledge, but also that of articulating and assigning values to forms of non-knowledge and non-knowers. The roundtable hopes to facilitate discussion on (1) whether and how “ignorance” can be seen as shaped by political structures, technological cultures, social institutions or ecological relationships; (2) whether and how the study of ignorance, especially on the basis of Chinese and other extra-European experiences, could be useful for historians of science.

This event will be held hybrid, on-site at the MPIWG and via Zoom. More information will be provided soon on the website of the MPIWG. Read more


Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Boltzmannstraße 22, 14195 Berlin, Raum 265 and via Zoom. To register, please contact Chun Xu (cxu[at]mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de).