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

02.04.2020 to 03.04.2020 Add to calendar


The conference is cancelled due to the coronavirus epidemic that makes it impossible for many of the invited guests to attend and has led to regulations by the Canton of Lucerne ( that we cannot fulfill. Thank you for your understanding!

Aufgrund dessen, dass mehreren Vortragenden wegen der Corona-Virus-Gefahr die Anreise von ihrer Universität untersagt wurde und aufgrund der Vorsichtsmassnahmen des Kantons Luzern (siehe müssen wir die Konferenz 'In the Shadow of the Tree: The Diagrammatics of Relatedness as Scientific, Popular, and Scholarly Practice' absagen. Wir danken für Ihr Verständnis!

Visualizations of relatedness between organisms tend to take the shape of diagrams, and these scales, cones, maps, networks, trees, etc. do not simply make visible natural connections but create or deny kinship in particular ways and for particular reasons. In the Sinergia project, we investigate diagrams of relatedness in Western Europe and in spaces of European expansion since the late medieval period in the areas of genealogy, natural history, biology, heredity, and anthropology. In doing so, we develop diagrammatics as a methodology that interrelates disciplinary approaches to working with and working on diagrams. Understanding diagrams as techniques that transcend such binaries as ‘thought and action’ and ‘image and text,’ we aim at a comparative analysis of how they were made and used, of how diagrams of relatedness function as epistemic, cultural, and political practices, e.g. with respect to incest prohibition, (male) hereditary succession of power and wealth, or the constitution of ‘racial relations’ and the determination of ‘purity of blood.’

The first international conference focuses on Genealogy (15th-19th c.): Stéphane Jettot (Paris Sorbonne), Michaela Hohkamp (University of Hannover), Simon Teuscher (University of Zurich), Jean-Paul Zuñiga (EHESS Paris); Natural History, Biology, Heredity (18th-20th c.): Hans-Jörg Rheinberger (MPIWG Berlin), Ariane Dröscher (University of Trento), Amir Teicher (Tel Aviv University), Ted Porter (UCLA); and Anthropology (17-20th c.): Staffan Müller-Wille (Cambridge University), Marianne Sommer (University of Lucerne), Helen Gardner (Deakin University Melbourne).

For a detailed program see

Image credit: excerpt of Linné, Carl von: Caroli a Linne ... Prælectiones in ordines naturales plantarum. Hamburgi : impensis Beni. Gottl. Hoffmanni, typis G.F. Schniebes, 1792. ETH-Bibliothek Zürich, Rar 3640,

Event organizer: 
SNF Sinergia Research Group "In the Shadow of the Tree" (Conveners: Marianne Sommer, Simon Teuscher, Staffan Müller-Wille, Caroline Arni)


University of Lucerne
Frohburgstrasse 3, Room 3.A27


Eric Hounshell
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Event cost: 
0.00 CHF