The first half of the 20th century was an age of global accelerated social and political transformation, at the time and afterwards conceived as either evolution, revolution, or reform. While the entity of Eastern, Middle-Eastern and South-Eastern Europe was heterogeneous, it was home to a number of parallel processes inducing what seem to be similar epistemologies, varying only in local forms. To localize these variations, our workshop focuses on reflections on science, scholarship and higher education done in this region from the end of WWI until the 1960s.

The scholars we want to focus on were not only “scientists of science”, but often analyzed and even heavily influenced political and social change from their specific standpoints, ranging from philosophy, history, sociology, psychology to especially pedagogy. However, most of them positioned their projects at transdisciplinary junctures. They were eager to introduce brand new sciences or at least to fundamentally reshape existing disciplines. Many politically engaged scholars suggested and helped to implement programs to investigate science, thought or creativity in order to foster individual, social or national progress. We understand such projects as political epistemologies – theories of knowledge, that are preconditioned by political convictions. In times of national and cultural plurality – either multiplication or fragmentation – these theories often emphasized a plurality of knowledge.

Our workshop aims to investigate such political epistemologies in their respective academic, regional or national embedding. The workshop has two main interests: First, to uncover the panorama of contributors that goes beyond such prominent figures like Alfred Tarski or Ludwik Fleck in Warsaw and Lviv, Jan Patočka and Emmanuel Rádl in Prague, Boris Hessen and Aleksander Bogdanov in Moscow and St. Petersburg or Karl Mannheim and Michael Polanyi, both born and socialized in Budapest. For this we particularly encourage contributions on persons and places hitherto marginalized in recent research. Second, we want to investigate different theoretical concepts and practical methods that originated in the region and uncover biographies of these concepts and methods, whether local or transnational.

The workshop is envisioned as a first of a series of meetings on (Eastern) European Epistemologies and is meant to open up the discussion on the shape of the respective workshops as well as their possible geographical, topical and personal scope. An edited volume originating from this workshop is to inaugurate a book series on the history of science in CEE/EE/SEE (under preparation).


Prof. Dr. Bernhard Kleeberg (Max-Weber-Kolleg, Universität Erfurt)
Prof. Dr. Dietlind Hüchtker (GWZO, Universität Leipzig)
Dr. Jan Surman (Max-Weber-Kolleg, Universität Erfurt)
Friedrich Cain, M.A. (Max-Weber-Kolleg, Universität Erfurt)

Source: University of Erfurt, Link (6 November 2017)