© 2016

Expeditions as Experiments

Practising Observation and Documentation

  • Marianne Klemun
  • Ulrike Spring


  • Examines a variety of case studies and demonstrates how expeditions have uniquely contributed to scientific understanding where the laboratory could not

  • Presents the traditional expedition as a variation of the laboratory environment for scientific discoveries

  • Explores the ways expeditions have contributed to modern scientific analysis


About this book


This collection focuses on different expeditions and their role in the process of knowledge acquisition from the eighteenth century onwards. It investigates various forms of scientific practice conducted during, after and before expeditions, and it places this discussion into the scientific context of experiments. In treating expeditions as experiments in a heuristic sense, we also propose that the expedition is a variation on the laboratory in which different practices can be conducted and where the transformation of uncertain into certain knowledge is tested. The experimental positioning of the expedition brings together an ensemble of techniques, strategies, material agents and social actors, and illuminates the steps leading from observation to facts and documentation. The chapters show the variety of scientific interests that motivated expeditions with their focus on natural history, geology, ichthyology, botany, zoology, helminthology, speleology, physical anthropology, oceanography, meteorology and magnetism.


Science History of Technology STM Eighteenth Century Natural History document documentation expedition experiment history history of science

Editors and affiliations

  • Marianne Klemun
    • 1
  • Ulrike Spring
    • 2
  1. 1.University of ViennaAustria
  2. 2.Sogn og Fjordane University CollegeNorway

About the editors

Marianne Klemun is Professor of Modern History and, from 2006 to 2012, Vice Dean of the Faculty of Historical and Cultural Studies at the University of Vienna, Austria. Her publications include (as Guest Editor) ‘Moved Natural Objects: Spaces in Between’ in HOST - Journal of History of Science and Technology, Vol. 5 (2012).

Ulrike Spring is Associate Professor of History at the Department of Social Sciences at Sogn og Fjordane University College, Norway, and Researcher in the project 'Making Sense of the Aurora' at the Department of History and Religious Studies at UiT – The Arctic University of Norway. 

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Expeditions as Experiments
  • Book Subtitle Practising Observation and Documentation
  • Editors Marianne Klemun
    Ulrike Spring
  • Series Title Palgrave Studies in the History of Science and Technology
  • Series Abbreviated Title Palgrave Studies in the History of Science and Technology
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, London
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-1-137-58105-1
  • Softcover ISBN 978-1-349-84534-7
  • eBook ISBN 978-1-137-58106-8
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XI, 294
  • Number of Illustrations 1 b/w illustrations, 5 illustrations in colour
  • Topics History of Science
    History of Technology
  • Buy this book on publisher's site