Daniel Speich

Daniel Speich
pas labex
pas Eurias

dates de séjour

01/01/2009 - 30/06/2009


Histoire moderne

Fonction d’origine


Institution d’origine

Université technique (ETH) de Zurich (Suisse)

Fonction actuelle


Institution actuelle

Université de Luzern (Suisse)

pays d'origine


projet de recherche

Knowledge and Development: Technology and Science in the Postcolonial Culture of Development

This project seeks to reconstruct a historical narrative of the post-colonial development endeavour. It focuses on the role of science and technology in development discourse and practice. Particular emphasis is put on economists and their abstract modes of knowledge. The aim is to go beyond the alternative of failure or success. Instead, the persistence of developmental interventions since the 1940s is explained in the terms of a cultural analysis. By making use of recent insights of science and technology studies it is being asked, how certain assumptions concerning global economic inequality have been shaped, stabilised and put to work in the North and in the South and what were the consequences of these specific knowledge claims. Three case studies are considered to describe the role of scientific and technical knowledge in the perception of post-colonial socioeconomic change. Areas of study are an international organization (UNDP), a recipient country (Kenya) and a donor context (Switzerland).


Daniel Speich studied history, philosophy and anthropology at University of Zurich.  He is a professor at Luzern University since 2011, and at Zurich University since 2012. He has been an associated researcher at the Institute for History of ETH Zurich, Switzerland. He completed his dissertation thesis in 2002 on the cultural history of the first modern hydro technical development scheme in Switzerland (1783-1823). In parallel he co-authored a study with David Gugerli on the cultural history of the official cartographic survey of Switzerland in the 19th century. In 2003 he was offered a post as "Juniorprofessor" for Modern European History at the Technical University Braunschweig (declined). 2003-2005 he co-directed with David Gugerli and Patrick Kupper a research project on the history of the Ecole Polytechnique/ETH Zurich. This project included innovative ways of using new technologies. The website (www.ethistory.ethz.ch) was awarded "Best of Swiss Web" in 2006. Since 2006 he holds a scholarship of the Swiss National Science Foundation, working on the project "Knowledge and development. Technology and Science in the Postcolonial Culture of Development". He is investigating the history of knowledge techniques in economics and especially analyses the historical importance of macroeconomic abstractions in postcolonial development practice. In 2007 Speich was a visiting scholar at the Max-Planck-Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG) in Berlin.