Short CV/Education and training

  • 1987 – 1993
    Studied Sinology, Japanology and political science at the University of Würzburg, Germany; Magister degree (MA)

  • 1993 – 1994
    Independent researcher

  • 1996

  • 1998 – 2001
    Postdoc fellowship, University of Würzburg

  • Since 2001
    Independent researcher

  • 2001 – 2004
    Research grant from the German Research Foundation (DFG) to work at the University of Würzburg

  • 2005
    Habilitation (postdoctoral qualification)

  • 2005
    University of Würzburg, Institute of East and South Asian Cultural Studies, Sinology

  • Since 2005
    Max Planck Institute for the History of Science

  • 2006
    University of Pennsylvania, USA, Department of History and Sociology of Science

  • 2006 – 2011
    Director, Independent Research Group "Concepts and Modalities: Practical Knowledge Transmission" (China, 10th-18th century), Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin

  • 2011 – 2013
    Full Professor, (Chair) Chinese Studies & History of Technology, The University of Manchester

  • Since 2013
    Director, Department III, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin

Selected publications

  • Schäfer, D.: Peripheral Matters: Selvage/Chef-­de-­piece Inscriptions on Chinese Silk Textiles. UC Davis Law Review. Vol 47 (2), 2013. 705-733.

  • Schäfer, D.: The Crafting of the 10.000 Things: Knowledge and Technology in 17th Century China. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. 2011.

  • Schäfer, D.: Cultures of Knowledge. Hg. Leiden: Brill. 2011.

  • Schäfer, D.: Inscribing the World: Practices of Knowledge Appropriation in Ming China. EASTS. 2010.

  • Schäfer, D.: Gongting yu difang: Shiqi zhi shiba shiji de jishu jiaoliu [The Court and the Localities: Technological Knowledge Circulation in the 17th and 18th century]. Hg. Beijing: Zijincheng chubanshe, 2010.

  • Schäfer, D.: Ganying Resonance in Seventeenth-century China: The examples of Wang Fuzhi (1609 – 1696) and Song Yingxing (1589 – ca. 1666). In: Variantology 3: On deep time relations of arts, sciences and technologies in China and elsewhere, hg. von Siegfried Zielinski und Eckhard Fürlus. Köln: König 2008. S. 225-254.

  • Schäfer, D.: Der Außenstehende: Song Yingxing (1587 – 1666). In: Kritik im alten und modernen China, hg. von Heiner Roetz. Wiesbaden: Harrasowitz 2006. S. 165-178.

  • Schäfer, D.: The Congruence of Knowledge and Action: The Tiangong kaiwu and its Author Song Yingxing. In: Chinese Handicraft Regulations of the Qing Dynasty: Theory and Application, hg. von Christine Moll-Murata, Song Jianze, and Hans Ulrich Vogel. München: Iudicum 2005. S. 35-60.

  • Schäfer, D.: Song Yingxing (1587 – 1666?) – A Technical Author. In: Tsing-hua ta-hsüeh lun-wen fa-piao 4, 2002. S. 1-31.

  • Schäfer, D.: Weaving an Economic Pattern in Ming Times (1368 – 1644): The Production of Silk Weaves in the State-Owned Silk Workshops. In Zusammenarbeit mit Dieter Kuhn. Heidelberg: Edition Forum 2002.

Selected projects

  • Supervisor of the partnership of the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) and the Max Planck Society (MPG) at the Institute of the History of the Natural Sciences (IHNS), Beijing, China, founded September 2007

  • Principal Investigator of the collaboration between the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG) and the Palace Museum (PM) in Beijing, China, agreed to December 2007

  • Principal Investigator of the China Historical GIS Project, a digital Multi-Access Knowledge Platform in collaboration with the Harvard Yenching Institute, Harvard University and MPIWG

Membership in scientific bodies/juries

  • British Society for the History of Science (BSHS)

  • History of Science Society (HSS)

  • Gesellschaft für Technikgeschichte (GTG)

  • Society for the History of Technology (SHOT)

  • Association for Asian Studies (AAS)

  • Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH)

  • German Association of Chinese Studies (DVCS)

  • Society for German–Chinese Friendship (GDCF)

  • Elected member of the Symposium German-Israeli Frontiers of Humanities (GISFOH) "On the Move: People, Ideas, and Artefacts", Kibbutz Tzuba, Israel. December 2009

Soft Skills/Other activities and achievements

Additional interests

  • Art history, archaeology


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  1. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize awarded to Dagmar Schäfer

    Historian of Chinese science and technology to receive Germany’s highest research accolade.

  2. Dagmar Schäfer Is New Max Planck Director

    Prof. Dagmar Schäfer will establish the new Department III at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG), called "Artefacts, Action and Knowledge".