Dagmar Schäfer (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science), Interviewed by Gonçalo D. Santos on March 22, 2018, Hong Kong.
Dagmar Schäfer is the Director of Department III, Artifacts, Action, Knowledge at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. She is Honorary Professor in History of Technology at Technische Universität, Berlin; Adjunct Professor at the Institute of Sinology, Freie Universität, Berlin; and Guest Professor at Tianjin University (2018–2021). She received her doctorate and habilitation from the University of Würzburg and has worked and studied at Zhejiang University, Peking University, National Tsing Hua University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Manchester, among others. She was previously a Guest Professor at the School of History and Culture of Science, Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
Dagmar Schäfer's interest is the history and sociology of technology of China, focusing on the paradigms configuring the discourse on technological development, past and present. She has published widely on the Premodern history of China (Song-Ming) and technology, materiality, the processes and structures that lead to varying knowledge systems, and the changing role of artifacts—texts, objects, and spaces—in the creation, diffusion, and use of scientific and technological knowledge. Her current research focus is the historical dynamics of concept formation, situations, and experiences of action through which actors have explored, handled and explained their physical, social, and individual worlds.
Her monograph The Crafting of the 10,000 Things (University of Chicago Press, 2011) won the History of Science Society: Pfizer Award in 2012 and the Association for Asian Studies: Joseph Levenson Prize (Pre-1900) in 2013. Dagmar Schäfer was awarded the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize 2020—the most prestigious research award in Germany, it is given to “exceptional scientists and academics for their outstanding achievements in the field of research.”
Schäfer, Dagmar. 2011. The Crafting of the 10,000 Things: Knowledge and Technology in Seventeenth-Century China. University of Chicago Press.