Stéphane Van Damme

Part-time Professor of History of ScienceVAN DAMME 2018

Co-coordinator of the interdisciplinary research cluster:
Crisis of Expert Knowledge and Authority 


Prof. Van Damme will not take on any new supervisees in the academic year 2020-2021

Fields of research

  • Enlightenment science and knowledge in a global context
  • Urban history of science in Europe (Paris, London, Edinburgh)
  • Empires of sciences (North-America, South India)
  • History of natures and environmental history
  • Democratic transitions and sciences: transatlantic debates
  • Material history of science (archaeology)

Current research projects

Professor Van Damme’s research examines the origins of early modern scientific knowledge within European Culture during a long period (1650-1870) by looking at essential elements overlooked by historians of science and knowledge such as scientific centres (Lyon, Paris, London, Edinburgh, New York), founding fathers of the Scientific Revolution (Descartes), paradigmatic disciplines (philosophy, natural history, antiquarianism, geography, anthropology), and recently, imperial projects (mainly in North America and India). He works also on the birth of archaelogy in the urban context including museum studies and collections.

Currently, he is working on two different projects. First, he will publish soon a book on naturalists, natural philosophers, and traveling scholars who contested the establishment of a new order of knowledge in the wake of the French Empire.

The second project deals with another foundational divide of the Enlightenment which opposed nature and city. By following the rise and fall of a natural history of metropolises, this project undertakes an archaelogy of urban ecological knowledge (urban geology, urban mineralogy, urban botany, urban chemistry, medicine) in relation with the commodification of urban nature (collections,  invention of 'green belt', new consumptions). Based on the tales of three cities (Paris, London and New York), the project is addressing 18th and 19th centuries.

Stéphane Van Damme is leading the research project Contesting Early Modern Globalism: Exploring an Anti-Globalist Perspective in History of Science, financed by the EUI Research Council in 2019 


French, English, Italian, Spanish, German

Current seminars at the EUI

Selected recent publications

Books and Monographs (2012-2017)

  • Métropoles de papier. Naissance de  l’archéologie urbaine à Paris et à Londres (Paris : Les Belles Lettres, 2012), 310 pages.
  • A toutes voiles vers la vérité. Une autre histoire de la philosophie au temps des Lumières (Paris : Le Seuil, 2014), 393 pages.
  • La passion de la vérité: retour sur une pratique philosophique de plein air au temps des Lumières (Paris: Editions de la Fondation Calouste Gulbenkian, 2016), 73 pages.
  • Sciences en société de la Renaissance à nos jours (Paris: La Documentation Photographique, 2017).
  • Les voyageurs du doute. Contester la première globalisation française (Paris: Fayard, under contract 2018).
  • La Prose des savoirs. Pragmatique des mondes intellectuels (Strasbourg, Presses de l’université de Strasbourg, 2020).
  • Seconde nature. Rematérialiser les sciences de Bacon à Tocqueville (Dijon, Les presses du réel, 2020).
  • Les voyageurs du doute. L’invention d’un altermondialisme libertin (1620-1820) (Paris, Fayard, forthcoming 2021).

Edited books and Special Issue

  • Lorraine Daston, L'économie morale des sciences: jugements, émotions et valeurs (Paris, La Découverte, Futurs antérieurs, 2014), translated by Samuel Lézé, introduction and presentation by Stéphane Van Damme.
  • Stéphane Van Damme, ed., Histoire des sciences et des savoirs, vol. I, De la Renaissance aux Lumières (Paris : Edition du Seuil, 2015).
  • William Carruthers and Stéphane Van Damme, eds., « Disassembling Archaeology, Reassembling the Modern World: Questions and Possibilities”, History of Science, Special Issue, 2017.
  • Hanna Hodacks, Kenneth Nyberg and  Stéphane Van Damme, eds., Linneaus, Natural History and circulation of Knowledge (Oxford: Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment, 2018).



Office Hours: Tuesdays, 14:00-16:30
Administrative Assistant: Miriam F. Curci

  • Postal address:  
    Department of History and Civilization 
    Via Bolognese 156 
    50139 Florence - Italy

Office SAMN249 at Villa Salviati, Manica

Page last updated on 03 September 2020

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