Lezing | ‘Circulation, Arenas, and the Quest for Public Knowledge’

15 do
15 april 2021

(Online) meeting of the History of Knowledge Seminar Series @ Utrecht University on Thursday 15 April 2021. We are happy to welcome Johan Östling (Lund) who will give a lecture on “Circulation, Arenas, and the Quest for Public Knowledge”.


The recent surge in publications on the history of knowledge may obscure the fact that there are several parallel understandings of what the field is. In this presentation, Östling discerns five major historiographical directions in contemporary scholarship regarding the history of knowledge. The analytical framework that has so far attracted the most attention is the circulation of knowledge. As productive as it is, the very concept of circulation is in need of both elaboration and theorization. In order to achieve this, he focuses on the public circulation of knowledge. This kind of circulation implies that knowledge should be studied as a broad, societal phenomenon. There are a number of possible methodological approaches to study the processes, situations, or contexts where knowledge has or gains public significance. Here he focuses on and develops the concept of public arenas of knowledge, which might be virtual, physical, or hybrid spaces. Drawing on several new studies, he demonstrates how different public arenas of knowledge functioned during the postwar period and how they were part of a larger infrastructure of knowledge.


Johan Östling is the Director of the Lund Centre for the History of Knowledge (LUCK) and a Wallenberg Academy Fellow at Lund University. His research encompasses the history of knowledge, the history of universities and modern European history. Östling’s recent publications include Humboldt and the Modern German University (2018), Circulation of Knowledge (2018), Forms of Knowledge (2020) and Histories of Knowledge in Postwar Scandinavia (2020).


15:30–15:35   Introduction: Lukas M. Verburgt (UU)

15:35–16:15   Lecture: Johan Östling (Lund)

16:15–17:00   Discussie

This talk will take place online (via Microsoft Teams). Link to the meeting here.

History of Knowledge Seminar Series @ Utrecht University

Bringing together leading scholars of both older and younger generations with different backgrounds and approaches, this bimonthly seminar series explores the past, present and future of the promising new scholarly field of the history of knowledge. More than just an overview of state-of-the-art research, it offers an opportunity to join in the process of historiography in the making. The series is organized by Lukas M. Verburgt and Elske van der Waal, with the support of the Descartes Centre, Utrecht. See www.historyofknowledge.nl for more information and the full program.

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