Call for Papers: Biographies of Numbers (7-9 July, 2022)

Book Cover of Carl Crow's 400 Million Customers (originally published in 1937)
Book Cover of Carl Crow's 400 Million Customers (originally published in 1937)

We invite proposals for a conference which will explore the life of numerically framed knowledge from a global historical perspective on quantification. It is based on the assumption that numbers have their own biographies and are not simply the objective reflection of reality but socially, politically, culturally, and historically constructed knowledge and at the same time powerful agents which represent, transform, and recreate individual lives, social worlds, political spheres, nature, or other entities. Following the global trajectory of a single number from its production and global dissemination to the divergent narratives surrounding its numerical value, we aim to analyze the stabilizing and destabilizing impact of numbers on individual and collective practices and imaginaries. We will limit ourselves to “scientific numbers”, i.e. those that are grounded on quantitative knowledge and method, yet our notion of “number” is also to be understood more broadly, including indicators, formulas, and statistics as well. More information can be found in the detailed Call for Papers, the deadline for submission is 31 January, 2022.

Further information on „Sinology – Algorithms, Prognostics, and Statistics“ can be found on the website sin-aps.fau.de.