Research School for Economic and Social History


7 December 2022
09:00 - 15:00
Leiden University Library, Heinsius Room

Call for applications Masterclass by Professor Kapil Raj – deadline applications 4 November 2022

On 7 December 2022, the day after delivering the Annual Terra Incognita Lecture at Leiden University, Professor Kapil Raj will lead a masterclass at the Leiden University Institute of History


How do we as humans relate to nature, and how did our understanding develop over time? How does our writing of history reflect our interactions with the natural environment? Nature itself has been an obsession of humans from ancient times to the present, discussed in various iterations and genres of knowledge including agriculture, astronomy, botany, geography, medicine, meteorology, or zoology, to name but a few. Marxist historians, especially, have been instrumental in highlighting the role of the natural environment in determining the choices made by individuals and societies. Nature can be studied through many aspects, including textual descriptions, objects, visual representations, or quantitative data. These aspects have historically involved cooperation and competition between multiple individuals while also reflecting the interventions of historical contingencies. This fundamental interaction between the natural environment and human experience can be studied across various fields of history today.

Keynote speaker

Professor Kapil Raj, Research Professor at École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, is an historian who writes on intercultural interactions and the making of scientific knowledge and the global dimensions of local knowledge production. His publications include Relocating modern science: circulation and the construction of knowledge in South Asia and Europe, 1650-1900 (2007), “Mapping knowledge go-betweens in Calcutta, 1770-1820” (2009), and “Thinking Without the Scientific Revolution: Global Interactions and the Construction of Knowledge” (2017).

Masterclass content

The masterclass, open to a maximum of 12 Posthumus participants, is intended to generate discussions about the natural environment among researchers working on different aspects of history. Participants are invited to reflect on how their research may be related to nature, the processes of knowledge production or global networks of knowledge exchange. This masterclass welcomes engagement from researchers whose projects may not specifically be on the topic of nature. It would present an opportunity for participants to reflect on the topic of their research or the datasets they are working with, and to receive feedback from the invited expert as well as fellow participants on their research project, methods, and/or interpretations.

How to apply

  • Participation is limited to a maximum of 12 participants.
  • Prospective applicants are invited to submit
  • a 300-word abstract of their research, as well as a piece of data relevant to the theme of the masterclass. This piece of data should fit on one page of a PowerPoint slide and can be in the form of a text, object, image, an archival page, or a snapshot of a dataset.
  • As part of the masterclass, each participant would be given a maximum of 5 minutes to share more about their piece of data or the context of their research.
  • Please send your abstracts and data to Neilabh Sinhaand Melinda Susanto with the subject “Masterclass Natural Knowledge ”by 4 November 2022 at the latest.

Call Masterclass (PDF)