Anna Simon-Stickley is a doctoral fellow in the Graduate School Global Intellectual History at the Freie Universität zu Berlin. Before joining the Graduate School, Anna first completed a Bachelors in Art History at Freie Universität Berlin, which she finished with a thesis on contemporary artistic research on the Anthropocene. This work introduced her to the history of science, which she henceforth pursued in her master’s degree at Technische Universität Berlin. During her master’s, she explored the role of material media and practical knowledge in the 19-century life sciences especially – from early eye-tracking devices to botanical drawings from India – and has published on the history of instruments as well as on the intellectual history of the Anthropocene concept. Besides academic work, Anna has also worked as a freelance editor and translator, recently translating a 850-page book on the history and theory of Conceptual History and Historical Semantics (forthcoming 2024).
The Other Ancient Egypt. Writing Histories in the Sciences and Humanities of Deep Time, 1800-1920.
The recent intrusion of humans as actors into climatic and geo-history begs the question how human and earth historiography converged in the past. Accounts of the changing perceptions of time and history in the nineteenth century have overwhelmingly focussed on European actors and landscapes, overlooking the fact that the remnants of ancient Middle Eastern civilisations played a pivotal role in destabilising and vastly expanding the scale of the Western model of universal history in the nineteenth century. In my project, then, I explore how the sciences and humanities of deep time (geology, prehistoric archaeology, ancient history) traded expertise and data, by looking at four closely interlinked case studies centred in 19th-century Egypt, with forays into the Middle East more broadly. In contrast to Europe, the ancient civilisations of the Middle East had left records stretching back millenia – ideal conditions for correlating data from rocks and rivers, inscriptions and flint tools. In the four case studies I study, different models and scales of history were negotiated, always intertwined with utopian plans for Egypt’s future development. With this, I aim to show that research conducted in Egypt – the confrontation with its ancient past, landscapes, people – decisively influenced global conceptions of deep time as they developed in the nineteenth century.