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ANR funded project

Programme franco-allemand en SHS (FRAL)
Edition 2012


POLCELL


Politics of the living: a study on the emergence and reception of the cell theory in France and Germany, ca. 1800-1900

The politics of life
Study of the emergence and reception of the cell theory in France and Germany, ca 1800-1900

A longue durée history of the cell
The aim of this project is to shed a new light on the development of the cell theory in the 19th century, in France and Germany. One part of the project will investigate the pre-history of central categories of the cell theory such as “individuality”, “universality”, the analogy between “organism” and the “state”, between 1800 and 1839 and from a German-French perspective. The other part will study the reception of the cell theory in France between 1838 and 1900 by focusing on two scientific centers – Strasbourg and Paris – and by studying interactions between various fields of knowledge like botany, physiology, medicine and sociology. The main issue of the project is to explore the intertwined links between the cell theory and its political contexts. We consider these links as reciprocal relationships through which new orders of nature and politics were symmetrically constructed. By means of transnational and transdisciplinary comparisons, the French-German collaboration will retrieve differences and similarities between different political and philosophical concepts, epistemic schemes and research practices that shaped the emergence and development of the cell theory. Last but not least, the comparative approach will enhance the dialogue between French and German historians of science.

n/a
see below

Results

1) The study of the work of Charles Robin (1821-1885) which is related to the concept of cell (this work including 9 books, 6 scientific articles, 40 dictionary articles (Dictionnaire de médecine, de chirurgie, de pharmacie, des sciences accessoires et de l’art vétérinaire de P.-H. Nysten, 1885 ; Nouveau dictionnaire abrégé de médecine, 1886), as well as 5 biographical notices and a biography written by Robin's most important disciple, Georges Pouchet (Charles Robin, Sa vie et son œuvre, 1887). Next to the analysis of these primary and secondary sources, it will be proceeded to the analysis of Robin personal archives (unpublished material) which are kept at the Parisian Académie de médecine.
2) The study of the primary sources (including 5 books and 15 articles of the Gazette médicale de Strasbourg) and secondary sources (including obituary notices and medical PhD dissertation) related to the figure of Emile Küss (1815-1871).

Outlook

(1) The study of the links between cristallography and the emergence of the cell theory, and more specifically the study of the posterity of Haüy's concept of « integrating molecule ».
(2) The study of the multiple and intertwined links between Robin's scientific views and the issue of spontaneous generation.
3) To retrieve the epistemological and political factors explaining the positive reception of the cell theory in Strasbourg and to challenge the idea of an Alsatian scientific style.
4) To show the links between Emile Küss's views of the order of nature and his views of what should be a society.
5) To study the ways in which the cell theory permeated in medical teaching through the study of lectures and medical handbooks from Dominique-Auguste Lereboullet to Matthias Duval.

Scientific outputs and patents

No publications so far

Partners

IRIST (EA3424) Institut de Recherches Interdisciplinaires sur les Sciences et la Technologie

 Université de Braunschweig

ANR grant: 126 665 euros
Beginning and duration: juillet 2013 - 36 mois

Submission abstract

The aim of this project is to shed a new light on the development of the cell theory in the 19th century, in France and Germany. One part of the project will investigate the pre-history of central categories of the cell theory such as “individuality”, “universality”, the analogy between “organism” and the “state”, between 1800 and 1839 and from a German-French perspective. The other part will study the reception of the cell theory in France between 1838 and 1900 by focusing on two scientific centers – Strasbourg and Paris – and by studying interactions between various fields of knowledge like botany, physiology, medicine and sociology. The main issue of the project is to explore the intertwined links between the cell theory and its political contexts. We consider these links as reciprocal relationships through which new orders of nature and politics were symmetrically constructed. By means of transnational and transdisciplinary comparisons, the French-German collaboration will retrieve differences and similarities between different political and philosophical concepts, epistemic schemes and research practices that shaped the emergence and development of the cell theory. Last but not least, the comparative approach will enhance the dialogue between French and German historians of science.

 

ANR Programme: Programme franco-allemand en SHS (FRAL) 2012

Project ID: ANR-12-FRAL-0004

Project coordinator:
Madame Marion THOMAS (Institut de Recherches Interdisciplinaires sur les Sciences et la Technologie)
marion.thomas@nullunistra.fr

 

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The project coordinator is the author of this abstract and is therefore responsible for the content of the summary. The ANR disclaims all responsibility in connection with its content.