About the Contributions




Renn, Jürgen (2012). About the Contributions. In: The Globalization of Knowledge in History. Berlin: Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften.

Chapter 1. Globalization of Knowledge in History: An Introduction sketches a general epistemological framework for studies of the globalization of knowledge in history.

Chapter 2. Knowledge and Science in Current Discussions of Globalization reviews the role that knowledge and science play in recent literature on globalization processes and their history.


Chapter 3. Survey: From Technology Transfer to the Origins of Science develops the general epistemological framework, focusing on the transfer of technology in the ancient world and on the role of globalization processes for the origins of science.

Chapter 4. Technological Transfer and Innovation in Ancient Eurasia discusses interpretative models of and concrete archaeological evidence for technology transfer in ancient Eurasia and, in particular, Western influences in the development of Chinese metallurgy.

Chapter 5. Writing, Language and Textuality: Conditions on the Transmission of Knowledge in the Ancient Near East analyzes notational systems in the Ancient Near East as Kulturtechnik, developing a general perspective on the representation of knowledge by writing systems.

Chapter 6. The Origins of Writing and Arithmetic reviews the common origins of writing and arithmetic in the administrative techniques of the Ancient Near East.

Chapter 7. Globalization of Ancient Knowledge: From Babylonian Observations to Scientific Regularities deals with the structure of scientific knowledge in Mesopotamian culture, focusing on the astronomical diaries as the foundation of Babylonian astronomy.

Chapter 8. The Creation of Second-Order Knowledge in Ancient Greek Science as a Process in the Globalization of Knowledge argues that the creation of Greek science involved the formation of second-order knowledge based on stimulus diffusion related to the spread of practical knowledge from cultures such as Egypt and Babylonia.


Chapter 9. Survey: Knowledge as a Fellow Traveler develops the general epistemological framework, focusing on how knowledge was transmitted as a fellow traveler during the spread of empires and religious systems.

Chapter 10. The Spread of Buddhism as Globalization of Knowledge discusses how knowledge spread with Buddhism in Eurasia, focusing in particular on the importance of literacy.

Chapter 11. The Transmission of Scientific Knowledge from Europe to China in the Early Modern Period discusses the transmission of European scientific knowledge by Jesuit missionaries to late Ming, early Qing China, interpreting this process as a partial integration of two systems of knowledge.

Chapter 12. Normative Islam and Global Scientific Knowledge discusses the way in which normative Islam acted as a comprehensive worldview, shaping the development of different types of knowledge.

Chapter 13. From Khwarazm to Cordoba. The Propagation of Non-Religious Knowledge in the Islamic Empire discusses the transfer and transformation of Greek knowledge via the multi-faceted culture of the Islamic Middle Ages from antiquity to the Western Middle Ages.

Chapter 14. The Sciences in Europe: Transmitting Centers and the Appropriating Peripheries focuses on the introduction of Newtonian ideas into the Greek intellectual space of the Ottoman Empire in the eighteenth century.

Chapter 15. The Naturalization of Modern Science in South Asia: A Historical Overview of the Processes of Domestication and Globalization discusses the globalization of science in the context of the European colonial expansion to India and on the encounter between modern science and South Asian knowledge systems.


Chapter 16. Survey: The Place of Local Knowledge in the Global Community deals with the role of local knowledge in a globalizing world, extending the general epistemological framework to develop notions such as second-order local knowledge.

Chapter 17. Taking China to the World, Taking the World to China: Chen Hengzhe and an Early Globalizing Project represents a case study dealing with the cultural project of a Chinese intellectual, Chen Hengze, who at the beginning of the twentieth century became China’s first female professor of Western history.

Chapter 18. The Introduction of the European University System in Brazil discusses the foundation of the first university in Brazil in the 1930s with a particular focus on the controversial role of mathematics teaching between practical and theoretical traditions.

Chapter 19. Celestial Navigation and Technological Change on Moce Island discusses the complex interaction between globalized technologies and local knowledge of navigation in the Pacific.

Chapter 20. Translation of Central Banking to Developing Countries in the Post-World War II Period: The Case of the Bank of Israel discusses the transmission of central banking to peripheral countries after the Second World War and the ways in which a globalized model was adapted to local circumstances.

Chapter 21. On Juridico-Political Foundations of Meta-Codes is based on an ethnographic case study of the organizational and technical improvement of waterworks in three cities in Tanzania, discussing knowledge practices of encounters and negotiations between international experts and local actors.

Chapter 22. The (Ir)Relevance of Local Knowledge: Circuits of Medicine and Biopower in the Neoliberal Era is based on field work in rural and urban Tanzania, exploring different aspects of the interconnection between HIV/Aids and social relationships in the context of globalization and modernity.

Chapter 23. The Transformations of Knowledge Through Cultural Interactions in Brazil: the Case of the Tupinikim and the Guarani discusses school education in two ethnic communities in the state of Espírito Santo in Brazil, exploring how abstract concepts such as symmetry can be related to local practices.


Chapter 24. Survey: The Globalization of Modern Science reviews the development of scientific knowledge and its globalization from the early modern period to the present. It introduces in detail the notions of socio-epistemic complex and socio-epistemic evolution, elaborating the general theoretical framework.

Chapter 25. The University of the 21st Century: An Aspect of Globalization develops a vision for the university of the twenty-first century, suggesting an epistemological rethinking characterized as a transition from local universalism to global contextualism.

Chapter 26. The Soviet Psychologists and the Path to International Psychology discusses the development of a new kind of psychology in the 1920s and 1930s by a group of Soviet researchers, characterized by taking into account the cultural and material conditions in which people live. It claims that their ideas formed the basis for a genuinely international psychology.

Chapter 27. The Global Diffusion of Nuclear Technology reviews the emergence and globalization of nuclear science and technology since World War II. It discusses in particular the ensuing new role of scientists in international politics, the emergence of the industrial military complex, the establishment of the non-proliferation regime and the current challenges of the spread of nuclear technology with intrinsically dual-use character.

Chapter 28. The Role of Open and Global Communication in Particle Physics discusses the role of knowledge sharing and open communication in high-energy physics. The community of particle physicists has played a pioneering role in establishing open-access publishing and open-data sharing as future models for scientific communication.

Chapter 29. Internationalism and the History of Molecular Biology traces the changes in character of an unparalleled international cooperation, from the state of self-organization to an increasing involvement of agencies and governments as well as the emergence of economic opportunities.

Chapter 30. The Role of Chemistry in the Global Energy Challenge introduces some of the challenges of energy research, emphasizing the role of chemistry in dealing with non-fossil regenerative energy. It analyzes the energy challenge in terms of scenarios based on networks of technologies required to convert and store energy.

Chapter 31. Climate Change as a Global Challenge – and its Implications for Knowledge Generation and Dissemination conceives climate change as a global challenge, paralleled by the emergence of both global and local structures in knowledge generation and dissemination. It stresses the need for global governance and discusses the role of local action.

Chapter 32. Toward an Epistemic Web proposes the vision of an Epistemic Web, resulting from a optimization of the present Web for the purposes of knowledge generation and communication. It discusses this vision as well as the obstacles preventing its realization in a broader historical context.