This workshop addresses the laboratory as both a confined space, assembling and isolating elements of experimental systems; and a permeable space, embedded in organizations and infrastructures. It aims to explore how every entry, exit, change, or rearrangement of elements inside and outside the lab can expand or narrow the space of possibilities of experimental systems and the status of its epistemic objects.

Experimentation is characterized by exploratory strategies as much as by clear aims and methodological rules, by openness to unprecedented events, contingency and surprise as much as by reproducibility and the stabilizing and control of materials and procedures. Researchers can be more or less certain as to what was actually manipulated or measured, or which factors interfered. Hence, laboratory practices generate uncertainty as to the status of potential novelty and afford means to reduce opacity, ambiguity and instability and achieve certainty. The workshop addresses this tension by examining how personnel, tools or materials enter or leave the lab; how physical, chemical, and biological, as well as social and psychological lab conditions go unnoticed or become targets of control; and how transfers between labs, field sites, and service facilities shape experimental possibilities.

In English

10:00 Introduction

10:30 Nora Hangel
Making Sure, You’re Right – Scientists’ Manifold Uncertainties in Scientific Practice

11:10-11:30 Coffee break

11:30 Stephan Güttinger
A Certain Uncertainty: The Idea of Control in the Laboratory

12:10 Hans-Jörg Rheinberger
Working in the Cold: Cold Environments in Biological Experimentation

12:50-14:10 Lunch break

14:10 Daniel Liu and Robert Meunier
Life is Like Chemistry, Only More Complicated:
The Loeb School and the Temperature Coefficient, 1900-1918

14:50 Lisa Onaga
Colonial Taiwan as a Laboratory for Testing Aptitudes and Acclimatization

15:30-15:50 Coffee break

15:50 Joe Martin
Negotiating History: Contingency, Canonicity, and Case Studies

16:30 Wrap up discussion


Stephan Güttinger
Nora Hangel
Daniel Liu
Joe Martin
Robert Meunier
Lisa Onaga
Hans-Jörg Rheinberger

Organized by

Daniel Liu and Robert Meunier

KV Lab Environment

The event, like all events at the ICI Berlin, is open to the public, free of charge. The audience is presumed to consent to a possible recording on the part of the ICI Berlin. If you would like to attend the event yet might require assistance, please contact Event Management.