Forces of Life & the Œconomy of Nature
Dr. Dominik Hünniger: Forces of Life, the Power of Images and the Œconomy of Nature in 18th-century Entomolog
The project analyses the metaphors, terminologies and narratives that were used to describe encounters with nature and to explain images of nature around 1800. A history of knowledge perspective on 18th century entomology examines the notions of force in conjunction with the discourses on œconomy and ideas about the generation of life.
The project aims to compare the literature on entomological taxonomies with publications on general natural history, economic theory and agricultural improvement in order to reconstruct the underlying concepts of species and imaginaries of the "forces of nature". Digital humanities methods will help to establish if and how classical concepts like, dynamis, vis or potentia were employed in the Latin as well as vernacular literature.
Within the debates about the different epistemic values of visual versus textual knowledge practices "imaginaries of force" played a central role too. Images and their allegedly specific "power" was often evoked, also in the self-fashioning of practitioners. Hence, the sociological forces that influenced collaborative knowledge formation and its material aspects are key. A decolonial and species-sensitive perspective will help to understand the central role of (academic) collections and the integration of non-academic practitioners in the processes of knowledge formation on insects around 1800.