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Historisches Seminar

“In the Shadow of the Tree: The Diagrammatics of Relatedness as Scientific, Scholarly, and Popular Practice,” Conference 2

“In the Shadow of the Tree: The Diagrammatics of Relatedness as Scientific, Scholarly, and Popular Practice,” Conference 2
University of Zurich
March 14-15, 2022

International conference organized by Prof. Simon Teuscher (Zurich) and the Swiss National Research Foundation Sinergia research group “In the Shadow of the Tree: The Diagrammatics of Relatedness as Scientific, Scholarly, and Popular Practice.”


Detail from David Schmidlin (?), Stammbaum der Herzöge von Zähringen und Grafen von Freiburg, 1593, Augustinermuseum, Photo: Michael Jensch.

The SNF Sinergia research group “In the Shadow of the Tree” investigates the variety of diagrams that have been used over the centuries to conceptualize, determine, and produce relatedness since the Middle Ages.

Diagrams of relatedness have been created, transformed, and transferred through both the explicit intentions and implicit assumptions of historical actors. In addition, diagrams may also be seen to both constrain and enable new forms of thinking and acting, and in this sense have a life of their own. Old forms may resurface in surprising ways, for instance in shaping cutting-edge scientific work. Diagrams may also run up against practical limitations, resistance, or indifference from historical actors and may be interpreted very differently due to divergent understandings of key concepts. Furthermore, diagrammatic practices can define what is taken to exist at any given time and place—the makeup of populations (human and natural), cultures, and societies in their internal structures and in relation to each other, from local to global scales.

This international conference consists of three sections that deal with diagrammatics as an approach in the humanities and natural sciences; the relationship between diagrams and social practices; and the visions of the social that emerge from the use of diagrams. Papers range the globe, from the Middle Ages through the present, with a wide range of topics.

Registration appreciated but not required.



Monday 14.03

University of Zurich, RAA-G-01

09:30-9:40    Introduction (Simon Teuscher, Zurich)


09:40-10:40    Stéphanie Prieto (Zurich), “The persistence of the arbores and a new symmetry of gender – How Protestant marriage treatises present the forbidden degrees of kinship (16th & 17th century)”

10:40-11:40    Lea Pfäffli (Lucerne), “A Lawyer’s gimmicks. Arbores Consanguinitatis and their Reception in Ethnology”

11:40-12:10    Coffee Break

12:10-13:10    Fiona Vicent (Basel), “Demonstrating Napoleon’s kinship ties: The production, circulation, and reception of a controversial early 19th century genealogical diagram”

13:10-14:30    Lunch Break

14:30-15:30    Nick Hopwood (Cambridge), “Developmental series and germ-cell cycles”

15:30-16:00    Coffee Break


16:00-17:00    Ted Porter (UCLA), “Rival Trees of Mad Descent”

Tuesday 15.03

University of Zurich, RAA-G-01

09:30-10:30    Amos Kuster (Basel), “Families and heredity in medical records of psychiatry”

10:30-11:30    Julian Miguez (Zurich), “Genealogy without diagrams? The absence of visual diagrams in genealogical tests in Spanish America”

11:30-12:00    Coffee Break


12:00-13:00    Eric Hounshell (Lucerne), “Mapping the Ethnographic in Swiss Hausforschung, 1880s-1950s”

13:00-14:30    Lunch Break

14:30-15:30    Ruth Amstutz (Lucerne), “Paradoxes of Unity in Diversity in a Genomic Age”

15:30-16:00    Coffee Break

16:00-17:00    Sun Joo Kim (Harvard), “Complicating the Confucian Transformation of Korea: Diverse Representations of Ancestors in Early Modern Korean Genealogies”