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Coerced Circulation of Knowledge

Research Group Leader: Dr. Lisa Hellman

Coerced Circulation of Knowledge

The Research Group "Coerced Circulation of Knowledge" considers dependants (such as slaves, serfs, prisoners, servants or others in a strongly unequal relationship of power) as a driving force in circulation of knowledge.

In other words: we do not assume that people in asymmetric power relationships were merely affected by developments in science, technology or crafts – we explore the idea that they might have helped shape these developments. We base our study of premodern circulations of knowledge on three suppositions:

First, that of labor regimes: that circulation of knowledge was not always a matter of free choice, but particular conditions of labor.

Second, the importance spatiality: that circulation depended on the oscillation between mobility and immobility either of an actor, or her/his works.

Third, we see global entanglement as a driving force of history: that the coerced labor spanned multiple cultural or regional systems of coercion.

The focus lies thus not on any single historical region, but rather on connections between regions. We thus combine intellectual and global history to shed new light on what, and who, shaped premodern knowledge.

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