Osiris (Journal of the History of Science)


Journal of the History of Philosophy


Science, Technology and Society studies


History of Science Society




Jason R. Young

J.A. Bombardier Canada Scholar


I am a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Geography working on the intersections between the History of Ideas and the History of Science. My current research focuses on 19th century scientific spaces and practices with particular focus on national museums and the emergence of new cultural sciences such as ethnography and anthropology. These new disciplines held significant implications not just for how museums explained the history of mankind, but also for how scientific status, and with it, scientific space was regulated.

One of my interests is how formal and informal networks of exchange within musuem communities nationally, and internationally were established. These networks are important for they also reveal the rise of a low scientific culture among an increasingly socially, politically, and economically assertive bourgeois who mobilized scientific practice and the status of 'man of science' as a forum for upgrading their own social status. How this low scientific culture organized itself and the role individuals in professional science – the museum, the univeristy, and the field and labratory – played as a model for this bourgeosis scientific culture reveals some surprising connections. This culture would quickly emerge to challenge the museum as socially (class) and intellectually (professional) regulated space. One of my major findings is that these networks, professional and amateur, extended across territorial boundaries over a significant period of time, continuing, and infact growing, at the same time that nationalism as a political force was making international scientific practice increasingly more regulated by the territorial state. This makes the musuem an important site to investigate not just scientific debates and practices but larger social structures.

Through archival research into the correspondences of curators and collectors, official records of museums such as the British Museum and Berlin's Royal Ethnographic Museum (Museum fur Ethnographische zur Berlin), as well as learned societies, my research interrogates the relationship between cosmopolitan networks and nationalism among key figures in the History of Science.

Museums, both national and colonial, are also excellent mirrors through which to capture European outlooks on the global scale, whether articulated through efforts to complete the history of mankind or through European states 'colonial 'civilizing' missions and the efforts of national and internationl science to situate the colonial 'other' in relation to metropolitan cores. My work, focusing specfically on the United Kingdom, France and Germany explores not only the development of modern science as the inheritor of the Republic of Letters of the Enlightenment, but also how modern science became instiutionalized as an integral part of the National-State.

My research is supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada J.A. Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship.


Contact Information

Department of Geography

McGill University

805 Sherbrooke Street West

Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3A 2K6

phone: (514) 398-4111 fax: (514) 398-7437

email me!

Last updated 23/04/2011