Seminar Exploring 19th and 20th centuries historiographies of mathematics in the ancient world, 2014-2016

Université Paris Diderot , Bâtiment Condorcet, 10 rue Alice Domon et Léonie Duquet 75013 Paris Map

The organization of this seminar marks the beginning of the third and last phase of the SAW project. Our aim is to explore various facets of 19th and 20th century historical research about ancient mathematical sciences, especially those attested to by sources written in Chinese, the languages of the Indian subcontinent and cuneiform script.
After a brief examination of 17th and 18th century writings on mathematical sciences of the ancient world, we will analyze how worldwide in the first half of the 19th century roughly speaking, different milieus (orientalists, Confucian scholars, Indian pandits, mathematicians, philologists, etc) began systematically exploring mathematical sources of the past. We will analyze the issues and sources they privileged, their methods of inquiry and interpretation, the values they prized, the networks and the institutions to which they belonged and the contexts in which they carried out their historical work. After having focused on historical writing before the professionalisation of the history of mathematics, we will turn to the time period of professionalisation. Against this background, we will then concentrate on two specific topics important for the SAW project: the historiography of computation and the historiographic treatment of measurement units in the history of ancient mathematics. Finally, we will examine more global issues: how the different historiographies of ancient mathematics approached questions of comparison and circulation, and how they dealt with issues related to culture, civilization, and similar topics. The past and present-day uses of history of mathematics in specific communities will be equally at the center of our interest in this final part of the seminar.
The seminar is intended as a meeting of historians of mathematics with historians of philology, of orientalism, assyriologists, indologists, sinologists, and other specialists.

Programme November 2015 – June 2016 full year pdf version with abstracts

November 13, 2015- Room 483 A, Condorcet – 9.30-5.30 pm, Historical approaches to ancient mathematics and astral sciences in the early modern period
Christopher Minkowski, The sense of history in Indian astronomical texts
David Rabouin, Wallis as an historian of Algebra
Antoni Malet, Milliet Dechales’s history of mathematics
Florence Hsia, Reconstructing science in sinographic archives

December 18, 2015- Room 483 A, Condorcet – 9.30-5.30 pm, History of mathematics and the astral sciences in the ancient world in a context of professionalisation. The case of Mesopotamia
Martina Schneider/Pierre Chaigneau, Chaldean/Babylonian mathematics according to Hankel and Cantor
Teije de Jong, The rediscovery of Babylonian Astronomy: a historiographic narrative
John Steele, Abraham Sachs and the History of Babylonian science
Victor Gysembergh, “Greek” science, “Babylonian” science? A vexata quaestio in the historiography of science

January 8, 2016- Room 483 A, Condorcet – 9.30-5.30 pm, Historiography of ancient mathematics and astral sciences in India before its professionalisation
Ivahn Smadja, Crossing Borders: Henry Thomas Colebrooke and his European readers
Kevin Lambert, Counting on Power: George Peacock, the History of Arithmetic and the Late Georgian British Colonial State
Agathe Keller & Catherine Singh, Editions and translations of Sanskrit Mathematical and Astral texts in India at the beginning of the twentieth century

January 22, 2016- Room 483 A, Condorcet – 9.30-5.30 pm, Historiography of ancient mathematics and astral sciences in China before its professionalisation
Daniel Morgan, A Sphere unto Itself: the Death and Medieval Framing of the History of Chinese Cosmology
CHEN Zhihui, Wylie’s translation of the terminologies for the traditional Chinese mathematics
Martina Schneider & Karine Chemla, The reception of Alexander Wylie’s Jottings on the science of the Chinese. Arithmetic in Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries
MIZUNO Hiromi, When Cultural History Meets Mathematics: wasan and Yoshio Mikami

February 19, 2016- Room 483 A, Condorcet – 9.30-5.30 pm, Historiography of ancient mathematics and astral sciences, with a focus of China, and the Indian subcontinent: The beginnings of professionalisation
Jiří Hudeček, Evidential Scholarship and New Humanism: Li Yan and Qian Baocong as Historians of Chinese Mathematics
Dhruv Raina, The `Analytics’ and the Indologists: How the history of mathematics shaped mathematics education in Nineteenth Century India?
Ksenia Tatarchenko, Old Truths for Tomorrow: Sketching Professional, Popular and Amateur Histories of Ancient Mathematics in the Soviet Union
Alma Steingart, Cold War Antiquities: Histories of Mathematics in the Postwar United States

March 18, 2016- Room 483 A, Condorcet – 9.30-5.30 pm, Historiography of calculation and computation in the ancient world
Baptiste Mélès, Conceptions of Computation in Historiography of Mesopotamian Mathematics
Lisa Indracollo, Number, Units, and Conceptual Categories. Conceptions and misconceptions about numbers in China and the West
Serafina Cuomo, The other Greeks – notation, calculation, and cultural classification?
HIROSE Sho, Observation versus Computation in Indian Astronomy

April 15, 2016- Room 483 A, Condorcet – 9.30-5.30 pm, Historiography of measurement units
Marie-José Durand-Richard, The English Algebraists: from the practice of arithmetics to its theory
Pierre Chaigneau, In the jungle of Mesopotamian metrologies: on Thureau-Dangin’s first approach to cuneiform numbers and quantities
Nadine de Courtenay, Two different roles units can play in the mathematical formulation of physical relations
WANG Xiaofei, The reform of measurements and weights in the French Revolution and the changes in teaching arithmetic – la réforme des poids et mesures et le calcul d’arithmétique lors de la Révolution Française

May 20, 2016- Room 483 A, Condorcet – 9.30-5.30 pm, Historiography of comparison & Historiography of circulation, with a particular reference to the ancient mathematical sciences
Justin Smith, The ‘Hard Problem’ of Comparative Intellectual History: The Case of Europe and India
Pascale Rabault, Oriental languages and the development of comparative linguistics in the 19th century
Francesca Rochberg, The Ancient Astral Sciences of Babylonia and the Greco-Latin World: Highways and Byways of Comparison
Karine Chemla, CHEN Zhihui, Daniel Morgan & ZHOU Xiaohan Célestin, 19th century uses of comparison in the historiography of mathematics and astral sciences in China

June 17, 2016- Room 483 A, Condorcet – 9.30-5.30 pm, Historiography of science, ideologies and identities (culture, civilisation, communities)
Agathe Keller, Vedic Mathematics and its historiography of «hindu» mathematics
Irfan Habib, Legitimating the present through mis-readings of the past: New historiographies of science in South Asia
LEI Hsiang-lin, How Did Chinese Medicine Become Chinese? Re-thinking the conception of culture in understanding Chinese medicine
WU Yan, The Issue of Calendar Era in the Context of the Formation of National Awareness in Modern China

Continuing on page 2 with  academic year’s 2014-2015 programme