March 12, 2024 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Online and in person, Healey Room, Westminster College.

Dr Nathan Bossoh

On 12th March at 1pm Dr Nathan Bossoh will give a seminar entitled ‘Science, Religion and the Material Turn: Exploring New Global Potentials through Colonial Museum African collections’.

A light sandwich lunch will be provided from 12:30 in the Healey Room, Westminster College, Madingley Road Cambridge.

Abstract:  Over the last few decades the history of science discipline has shifted – with noticeable progress – from Western-focused narratives towards more globalised histories of science. In comparison however, the subdiscipline ‘history of science and religion’ has, only in the last decade, begun to make this shift beyond Christian-focused Eurocentric boundaries.

In their 2011 book Science and Religion Around the World John Brooke and Ronald Numbers attempted to map out a viable approach to globalising histories of science and religion, yet the work highlighted more issues than it solved. One reason these issues have prevailed, I suggest, remains due to approaches and methodologies. Whilst historians have paid much attention to the various intellectual, social and cultural contexts of science and religion in history, they have paid less attention to the material cultural contexts.

In this talk therefore, utilising the results from my ongoing research into the ‘Wellcome African materials’ held by the London Science Museum, I explore a currently underutilised, yet fruitful, mode of investigation. By incorporating indigenous narratives embedded in colonial museum collections into histories of science and religion, I argue that material histories can enrich current scholarship.

Furthermore, in bringing the history of science and religion more firmly into contact with museum studies, my research sits alongside emerging trends within the field which increasingly seek to position history of science and religion as a more public facing discipline which can speak directly to key contemporary social, political, national, and international discussions and debates.

A link to the webinar will be available on the day.

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