Organisation och personal

Petter Hellström

doktorand vid Institutionen för idé- och lärdomshistoria

018-471 5750
Engelska parken, Thunbergsv 3P
Box 629
751 26 UPPSALA

Kort presentation

Doktorand vid institutionen sedan 2012.

I mitt avhandlingsarbete undersöker jag bruket av släktträd inom vetenskaplig teori och praktik, med fokus på Frankrike och perioden efter Revolutionen.

Läs mer om avhandlingsprojektet under rubriken ”Forskning”. Vetenskapliga publikationer listas under "Publikationer". Konferensbidrag, populärvetenskapligt författande och medverkan i media finns under ”Biografi”.

Nyckelord: cultural history of science metaphors and models in science

Mina kurser


Född och uppvuxen i Stockholm. Utbildad vid University of London (BA Hons Arabic and the Study of Religion, 2008) samt vid University of Cambridge (MPhil History and Philosophy of Science, 2010).

Doktorand vid Uppsala universitet sedan 2012. Visiting Predoctoral Fellow vid Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte i Berlin under april och maj 2015. Doctorand invité vid Centre Alexandre Koyré i Paris under oktober 2016. Visiting Student vid Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge från september 2017 till mars 2018. Gäst vid EGENIS, University of Exeter under februari 2018. Aktiv inom projektet ”Trames arborescentes” sedan 2015.

Vid sidan om mitt avhandlingsarbete är jag bland annat aktiv inom projektet “Kåldolmens dag”.

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— ”Karl XII och den återkommande döden”, bidrag till ”Minne, berättande och historikerns ansvar”, slutkonferens för RJ-forskningsprogrammet ”Tid, minne, representation”, Historiska museet, 2016-11-30.

— ”Charles XII, roi de Suède. Sa vie après la mort”, gästföreläsning på kursen ”Civilisation scandinave. Les royaumes nordiques et leurs frontières du XVe au XIXe siècle”, Université Paris-Sorbonne, 2016-10-18.

— ”Genealogies of genealogies, trees of trees. Reflexions on reflexive methodologies”, bidrag till konferensen ”Trames arborescentes”, Centre d’études supérieures de la Renaissance, Université François Rabelais de Tours, 2015-12-16.

— ”The priest and the tree. Augustin Augier’s ’botanical tree’ (1801) as an image of divine creation”, bidrag till konferensen för International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology, Université de Québec à Montréal, 2015-07-09.

— ”Deadwood taxonomies. Trees of nature before evolution”, forskningspresentation vid Cabinet of natural history, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, 2015-03-09 .

— ”Deadwood. Failed genealogies of the family tree”, bidrag till konferensen ”Methodology in question”, Stockholms universitet, 2014-11-23.

— ”Det botaniska trädet. Augustin Augier och naturens ordning”, bidrag till konferensen ”Idéhistoria på gång”, Umeå universitet, 2014-09-26.

— ”Genetic lineages. Y chromosomes, mitochondrial DNA, and the quest for Jewish origins”, forskningspresentation vid Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich, 2013-04-13.

— ”Population genetics and the origin of the Jews”, bidrag till Minerva-Gentner Symposium, Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, 2012-10-16.

— ”The secularisation of the tree of life”, bidrag till konferensen ”Ends and beginnings”, European Society for the Study of Religions, Södertörns högskola, 2012-08-25.

— ”White maps of Africa. The making of blank spaces, 1700–1800”, forskningspresentation inom ”Maps and society lecture series”, Warburg Institute, University of London, 2012-01-26.

— ”Darwin and the tree of life. The roots of the evolutionary tree”, bidrag till konferensen för British Society for the History of Science, University of Aberdeen, 2010-07-23.

— ”White maps of Africa. Blank spaces and the cartographic imperative to empire”, bidrag till konferensen för British Society for the History of Science, University of Cambridge, 2010-01-05.

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— ”Finns inte på kartan”, Flamman, 2016-10-27.

— ”Not on the map. Cartographic omission from New England to Palestine”, The Guardian, 2016-08-22.

— ”The tree of life. With Darwin from Genesis to genomics”, The Guardian, 2016-04-19.

— ”Höghastighetståg – snabbt men dyrt”, Ekonomiekot, Sveriges Radio, 2016-03-19.

— ”Flyget eller tåget?”, Studio Ett, Sveriges Radio, 2016-02-23.

— ”Krigarkonungen och kåldolmarna”, Svenska dagbladet, 2013-11-30 (tillsammans med Fredrik Svanberg).

— ”Karl XII och kåldolmarna”, Nordegren & Epstein, Sveriges Radio, 2013-11-28.

— ”Monoculturalism has failed”, TEDx, 2012-11-12.

— ”Kåldolmekungen”, Verkligheten, Sveriges Radio, 2010-11-29.



Science and the shape of genealogy, 1800–1815

The family tree is such a commonly employed metaphor – in everyday communication as in science – that most people hardly react to it. But the metaphor has not always been around, and it has not always been the same. More specifically, before the breakthrough of evolutionary theory, family trees were not considered to be suitable illustrations or models of evolutionary development. Family trees were around, but they served markedly different purposes. It was only in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries that trees became integrated with the secular scientific imaginary and became resources for what we know of the world as a product of its past.

Because the family tree eventually became such an overwhelmingly popular model of evolutionary development, especially in the life sciences and in comparative linguistics, much energy has been invested in its early history. In some analogy to the way in which evolutionary scientists produce fossil records of extinct species to induce genealogies of the now living, scientists and scholars alike have produced inventories of presumed forerunners to modern evolutionary trees. Hence the way in which early trees in natural taxonomy and in historical philology have been inscribed into a course of development naturally leading up to later and better known trees. All while trees in fields of knowledge in which family trees are no longer in use, such as musicology and medicine, and which thus cannot as easily be made to play the role of forerunner to evolutionary trees, are largely or totally absent from the historiography. So far the present has dictated which historical trees have been studied and which have not.

In my ongoing thesis work, I turn to the period preceding the breakthrough of evolutionary theories. In this period, tentatively in the second half of the eighteenth century, then more emphatically in the beginning of the nineteenth, the conceptual and graphical imagery of genealogy and family trees was made a more generally available resource for scholars and scientists, who sought to bring order into their respective disciplines or areas of study. This appropriation of genealogy for learned and taxonomical purposes was not fully unprecedented, but the scope of possible applications expanded as conceptual and graphical trees were set to work in knowledge fields that had not previously been organized by recourse to trees. These new arenas included natural history and philology, but also medicine and mathematics, political economy and music.

Organized around a number of close case studies, all concerned with previously overlooked or little noticed theorists and pedagogues active around the year 1800, I investigate the historical introduction and employment of family trees in systematic knowledge production, attending to the period before evolutionary theories became any significant factor in science, and before genealogy and trees became generally established models with which to conceptualize the relationship of the present to the past


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