Wissen, um zu leben: The Politics of Natural History in “Jahrhundertwende” Austria
Zachary Barr’s dissertation investigates cultures of natural science and natural history in Jahrhundertwende Austria (1882—1914), focusing on the role of voluntary organizations, e.g. Die Naturfreunde and Urania, as mechanisms for the circulation of scientific knowledge, and as tools for inculcating politically charged conceptions of the order of nature and society in socially and culturally heterogeneous audiences. He is particularly interested in how politically divergent visions of “the scientific worldview” and “scientific ways of thinking” were anchored in the material and practical contexts of these voluntary organizations, and how organizational resources were marshaled and deployed in attempts to build or impose consensus. In focusing on processes of achieving consensus, he draws attention to the participation of otherwise marginalized groups, e.g. the working classes, in negotiating the meaning of concepts like science, knowledge, truth, and fact.
Zachary Barr is a doctoral candidate in the History Department at the University of Chicago. He received his B.A. in History and Spanish from the University of San Diego in 2009 and his M.A. from the University of Chicago in 2012, writing a master’s thesis on women’s political participation in the Christian Social Party. He has served as teaching assistant and lecturer in the University of Chicago’s History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science program, and has run an informal seminar for graduate students in the Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science committee. His research interests include the history of science, popular science, historical epistemology, Austrian intellectual history, Austromarxism, and Wittgenstein.
Who makes scientific knowledge, and how? Who is excluded from knowledge-making processes, and why? Zachary Barr argues that the answer to these questions leads beyond laboratories, journals, and conferences, to sites of circulation and translation between scientists, scientific amateurs, and lay publics.