B. Harun Küçük

Science without Leisure

Does science need to be useful? Are productivity and innovation good goals for academics? Do academics need to be paid? For what would you pay them and how much? And what would happen if you did not pay them? Does anyone need to go to school? Can’t you make do with apprenticeship and perhaps a few private lessons? Seventeenth-century Istanbul may hold some possible answers. For roughly a century, Istanbul produced no texts dealing with the classical sciences of astronomy, theoretical medicine and natural philosophy as hyperinflation wrecked living conditions of the professoriate. On the other hand, the city had its most prolific century in almanacs, drug recipes and instrument manuals.  By focusing on temporal and monetary underpinnings of scientific activity, I would like to do away with much of the vocabulary that we use to understand the flourishing of science and the decline of science, such as culture, practice, modernity, conservatism, innovation and civilization. In its stead, I will propose a quasi-economic model of science as nonproductive labor that requires a specific kind of leisure. 

B. Harun Küçük

University of Pennsylvania, History and Sociology of Science

Harun Küçük is Assistant Professor of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania. His work explores the relationship between daily practices and science in Ottoman Istanbul. Küçük has received his PhD from UC San Diego and has previously held pre- and post-doctoral fellowships at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. He is currently working on a book-length essay that outlines the temporal regimes of science. His first book, Science without Leisure: Practical Naturalism in Istanbul, 1660-1732, will be published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in November 2019.