Stéphane Van Damme | Professor

Before arriving at the EUI, my experience was in French and British university systems, communicating in both French and English at graduate and undergraduate levels. In 2001, I started my career as research fellow at the CNRS at the Centre Alexandre Koyré. In 2003, I was delegated by the CNRS to the Maison Française in Oxford to oversee the Franco-British research programme in history of science. I was former Associate Professor at the University of Warwick (Britain) where I was the director of Eighteenth-Century Studies, and finally since 2009, I have been Professor at Sciences Po (Paris). My teaching experience has been focussed on lectures in the history of science within the programme called Scientific Humanities, led by Bruno Latour.

My position of Professor of the History of Science at the European University Institute has provided exciting opportunities to develop courses at the postgraduate level, and to supervise PhD students studying topics dating from the 17th to the early-20th centuries. Since arriving at the EUI it has been my aim to associate teaching with the research that motivated my application to our research institution.

My research examines the multifaceted relations between early modern scientific knowledge and European Culture between 1650 and 1850 by looking at essential elements overlooked by historians of science, such as scientific centres (Lyon, Paris, London, Edinburgh, New York), founding fathers of the Scientific Revolution (Descartes), paradigmatic disciplines (philosophy, natural history, antiquarianism, geography), and recently, imperial projects in North America, in the Ottoman Empire, in India.

Influenced by the recent discussion in history of science about orders of information and credibility on the one hand, and the spatial turn and history of anthropology on the other, I wish to investigate in a new book about libertinism in spatial terms as a way of producing new sceptical anthropology and geography. A second project deals with the emergence of a natural history of metropolises which emerged during the 17th century and lasted until the end of the 19th century when urban ecology started to split the field into different sectors of urban research (natural sciences of the city and urban studies).

Trained in social and cultural history with Daniel Roche and Roger Chartier, I am eager to pay attention to the materiality of science in its context.

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