'Intelligence' as a Form of 'Sociological' Thinking around 1900

My project, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), deals with the question of how ‘intelligence’ has become one of the central research objects in both the natural and social sciences. Within this project, I intend to investigate the political and social factors that  catalysed the rapid development of the discourse of intelligence in the 20th century. My idea is to explore this phenomenon in relation to central ‘sociological’ categories such as social grouping, morality, stability, and normality. I will also examine how the scientific authority of intelligence influenced not only conservative, meritocratic and racist discourses, but also socialist, anarchist and other social theories orientated towards social inclusion. Using this framework, my project focuses not on social differentiation between individuals, but into which political and social forms ‘intelligence’ could be transformed, as well as on the political bodies that were constructed and ‘scientifically’ legitimised with references to the discourse of intelligence. In its early phases, I will focus on the development of the discourse of intelligence in the German Empire using Yiddish/Hebrew and Polish-language sources. However, my project will necessarily cross national and geographical borders due to its research question and the methodological approach.


Research Areas

  • Modern History

  • History of Knowledge 

  • History of Science and Scholarship

  • History of Intelligence Research

Contact us

Research Associate (Professorship for History of Science)
(Faculty of Philosophy)
Lehrgebäude 4/Raum 119
Office hours
on appointment
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