Petter Hellström

Researcher at Department of History of Science and Ideas

Visiting address:
Engelska parken, Thunbergsvägen 3P

Postal address:
Box 629
751 26 UPPSALA

Short presentation

I am a historian of science, and a specialist in the visual culture of knowledge. My research explores the productive role of images – metaphors, models, diagrams, maps – in the generation and circulation of scientific knowledge, particularly in relation to notions of natural order and hierarchy.

Academic qualifications: PhD, MPhil, BA Hons

Keywords: history of racism science and religion visual culture metaphors and models history of science historical epistemology classification diagrams maps evolutionary theory science and empire history of biology

I have a strong interest in research communication and outreach. While the majority of my interventions are only available in Swedish, two have been published in English by The Guardian.

I hold a PhD degree in the History of Science and Ideas from Uppsala University, an MPhil degree in the History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Cambridge, and a BA Honours degree in Arabic and the Study of Religions from the University of London.

Apart from a number of positions at Uppsala University, I have also been employed by Södertörn University, Karolinska Institutet, and the University of Lucerne. I have been an invited guest at the universities of Cambridge and Lucerne, at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, and the Centre Alexandre-Koyré.

I defended my doctoral dissertation, titled “Trees of Knowledge: Science and the Shape of Genealogy”, in 2019. The examiner’s report is available online, as is the Uppsala University press release.

Since 2020, I have been working on a new project, entitled “The Family Tree: A History of Scientific Imagination”, in which I address the implications of the findings of my dissertation project. First as a visiting scholar and then as an affiliated researcher, the project has in part been conducted within the frame of the program “In the Shadow of the Tree”, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

As from August 2022, I am the principal investigator in the project “Unmapping Africa: Enlightenment Geography and the Making of Blank Spaces”, which is financed by the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences (RJ). Because a significant portion of the work is carried out in France, and in cooperation with French colleagues, I will remain a recurrent visiting researcher at the Centre Alexandre-Koyré in Paris for the duration of the project period.

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Petter Hellström