In recent years I investigated the relation between the estimation and representation of the material properties of substances, in particular the bodily fluids blood and milk, and the changes in material knowledge traditions that took place from about the 17th to the 19th century. I observed that in this period of time a shift happened from a liquid epistemology, that is an epistemology thinking in terms of flow processes (often named “economy of fluids”), to a technological epistemology that investigates fluidity in a structural perspective with classificatory parameters – a mereological perspective that regards any kind of object as a part-whole relation. I would like to talk about this epistemological transition that changed our material perceptions forever.

Barbara Orland is a senior lecturer (Privatdozentin) in history of science, technology, and medicine at the pharmaceutical museum of the University of Basel/Switzerland, where she teaches the history of the life sciences and biomedicine from the 17th to the 20th century. In 2011 she replaced the professor for history of science at the University of Konstanz. In 2007/2008 she has been awarded the Käthe-Leichter guest professorship at the University of Vienna (Institute of Economic and Social History, Contemporary History Institute). Before she worked as a senior scientist at the Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, among others at the chair „History of Technology“ (1999-2004) and the Collegium Helveticum. Between 2004 and 2007 she was the managing director of the Center „History of Knowledge“ from the Federal Institute of Technology and the University Zurich.

Her current research interests cover different fields of the history of life sciences and biomedicine, e.g. scientific concepts of fertilization and pregnancy, nutrition and metabolism, biomaterials (like blood and milk)

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