Andreas Weber is an assistant professor in the research group Science, Technology and Policy Studies (STePS). Most of his research and teaching examine the relationship between Science, Technology and Culture (=STC) from a long-term and global perspective. Andreas has a special interest in the history of natural history and chemistry in insular Southeast Asia (mostly Indonesia) and Europe. This includes research into how computational technologies can be used to contextualize biodiversity heritage collections and archives. Research in the latter field also allows him to reflect upon how emerging technologies in the field (e.g. machine learning, linked data) reshape our understanding of culture & technology in society.
Andreas holds a MA degree in History (2005) and a PhD (2012), both from Leiden University. In 2006, he also obtained a 1. Staatsexamen (=first degree in teacher's training to teach at German gymnasia) from the University of Bamberg. Since autumn 2019 he is also developing PhD training for WTMC - the Netherlands Graduate Research School of Science, Technology, and Modern Culture. Andreas is associate editor of the journal Itinerario: Journal of Global and Imperial History and co-editor of the book series Emergence of Natural History (ENH).
Areas of interest:
- science and technology in long-term perspective
- global history of science and technology
- history of natural history & chemistry
- natural history collections and their imperial context
- computational technologies, digital archives & museum collections
Projects & supervision:
- PhD project (2017-2023): Science, Natural History and the Dutch empire in the first half of the nineteenth century (P. van Wingerden, external candidate, promotor: F. van Lunteren, VU Amsterdam and U Leiden), my role: co-promotor
- PhD project (2019-2023): Making Sense of the Tropics: Health, Medicine and Knowledge Production in the Early Modern Indian Ocean World (M. Susanto, U Leiden, promotor: J. Gommans), my role: co-promotor
- Postdoc project (2022-2025): Socio-Technical Pathways and Material Choices for a Responsible Electrification of the Production of Chemical and Fuels (S. Middelveld, Postdoc), my roles: co-applicant, co-PI, and advisor together with dr. K. Konrad (U Twente), L. Garcia Franco (U Twente), M. Altomare (U Twente)
- Postdoc project (2021-2024): Navigating Stories in Times of Transition: The Covid-19 Pandemic as Use Case (Postdoc, UT/Netherlands eScience Center, PI: G.J. Westerhof), my role: advisor
- NWO/Brill KIEM project (2018-2019):Eventscapes: Providing Spatio-Temporal Access to the Prize Papers (2018-2018), role: co-applicant
- NWO/Brill Creative Industries project (2016-2020): Making Sense of Illustrated Handwritten Archives, my roles: co-author of proposal, researcher, member of the daily board (DB)
Work as editor, organizer and curator:
- Co-chair of the the annual ICAART special session Artificial Intelligence and Digital Heritage: Challenges and Opportunities (ARTIDIGH).
- Co-editor of the book series Emergence of Natural History (ENH), published by Brill publishers (Leiden) (2019 - present).
- Associate editor of the journal Itinerario. Journal of Imperial and Global Interactions. Itinerario is published by Cambridge University Press (2019 - present)
- Co-curator of an internationally well-received museum exhibition on the history of recycling. The exhibition was on display at the Dutch National Museum for the History of Science and Medicine (=Rijksmuseum Boerhaave) in Leiden (2015-2016), and the Fries Museum (2016-2018).
Prizes and Fellowships:
- Best teacher award of the MSc program Philosophy of Science, Technology & Society (PSTS) at the University of Twente (2021 and 2022)
- Young Talent Award of the Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences of the University of Twente (2019)
- The exhibition Wealth of Waste has received an ‘honorary mention’ award as part of the competition for the 2016 international Dibner Award for Excellence in Museum Exhibits of the American Society for the History of Technology (SHOT).
- John C. Haas fellow of the Science History Institute in Philadelphia (2015-2016)
- PhD grant by the German Academic Scholarship Foundation (2008-2010)
- Student scholarship by the German Academic Scholarship Foundation (2004-2007)
Key publications (9):
- Weber, A., “Natural History Collections and Empire,” in: The Routledge Handbook of Science and Empire, ed. by Andrew Goss (Routledge 2021), DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429273360-8
- Weber, A., “Collecting Colonial Nature: European Naturalists and the Netherlands Indies in the Early Nineteenth Century,” BMGN – Low Countries Historical Review 134:3 (2019), 72-95, DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/bmgn-lchr.10741
- Weber, A., Van Zanen, S., Kunstenaar op Java: De reisdagboeken en natuurtekeningen van Pieter van Oort (1825-1833). Zuthphen: Walburg Pers, 2021.
- Weber, A., Van Zanen, S., Kunstenaar op Sumatra: De reisdagboeken en natuurtekeningen van Pieter van Oort (1833-1834). Zutphen: Walburg Pers, 2022.
- Stork, L., Weber, A., Van den Herik, J., Plaat, A., Verbeek F., Wolstencroft K., "Large-scale zero-shot learning in the wild: classifying zoological illustrations," Ecological Informatics (2021), 101222, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoinf.2021.101222
- Weber, A.; Ameryan, M.; Wolstencroft, K.; Stork, L.; Heerlien, M.; Schomaker, L. “Towards a Digital Infrastructure for Illustrated Handwritten Archives,” in Digital Cultural Heritage, Springer Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS), vol. 10605, ed. Marinos Ioannides (Springer 2018), 155-166. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-75826-8_13 [PDF].
- Dijksterhuis, F.J., Weber, A., and Zuidervaart, H. (eds.), Locations of Knowledge in Dutch Contexts. Leiden: Brill, 2019. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004264885
- Stork, L., Weber, A., Gassó Miracle, E., Verbeek, F., Plaat, A., Van den Herik, J and K. Wolstencroft, “Semantic Annotation of Natural History Collections,” Journal of Web Semantics (2019). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.websem.2018.06.002 [PDF]
- Weber, A., Hybrid Ambitions: Science, Governance, and Empire in the Career of Caspar C.G. Reinwardt (1773-1854). Amsterdam: Leiden University Press, 2012 (=dissertation). [PDF] [UL repository]
For more information about me and my research see also: www.andweber.com
- Cambridge, 2021, Colloquium presentation (virtual), Department of History and Philosophy of Science), title: Governance of and by Paper: Natural History and the Dutch Empire in Southeast Asia, 1800-1850", 15 March 2021.
- Virtual/New Orleans 2020. Contribution to joint round table of the American History of Science Society (HSS) and the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) on The Future of Digital Humanities in the History of Science and Technology on ‘Digital Humanities and the Future of Natural History‘, SHOT/HSS Virtual Forum, 8-10 October 2020.
- Erlangen, 2019: Material Sensibilities: Paper, Chemistry, and Recycling in the Netherlands and beyond, ca. 1800, invited paper for the international conference: The Paper Trade of Early Modern Europe: Practices, Materials, Networks, Erlangen, 26-27 February 2019.
- Göttingen, 2019: Expertenwissen, Rohstoffkreisläufe und Chemie in den niederländischen Kolonien um 1800 (Colloquium presentation, chair: Early Modern History: M. Füssel, 29 January 2019.
- Amsterdam, 2018: Contribution to round table discussion in the context of the workshop Colonial Legacy of Dutch Natural History Collections, Amsterdam, Artis Library, 7 December, 2018.
- Yogyakarta, 2018: History of Science and Technology in Indonesia (public lecture, 16 October 2018, Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta).
- Utrecht, 2017: Studying Empire’s Nature: Natural Historical Archives as Digital Challenge and Opportunity, Descartes Colloquium, Utrecht University.
- Woudschoten, 2017: Science and the Dutch Empire in the Nineteenth Century: Natural Historical Collections as Digital Challenge and Opportunity, Bi-annual meeting of Dutch historians of Science (Woudschoten VII).
- Leiden, 2017: Reinwardt en de vroege jaren van de tuin in Bogor, Hortus Botanicus Leiden, Hortus Wintercollege.
- London, 2017: Natural Historical Archives as Digital Challenge and Opportunity, UCL Centre for Digital Humanities, London (together with Lambert Schomaker, ALICE U Groningen)
- Enschede, 2017: Towards an Infrastructure for Illustrated Handwritten Archives, ITC Faculty (together with Lise Stork, LIACS U Leiden).
- Schoonhoven, 2016: Over zilver essays en sjoemelende muntmeesters in Nederland en zijn voormalige koloniën, mini symposium “Zilver & Goud. De historie van edelmetalen”, Zilvermuseum, Schoonhoven.
- Den Haag, 2016 (together with Lambert Schomaker): Automatische handschriftenherkenning in 19e eeuwse dagboeken als casus voor het MONK-systeem.
- Krakow, 2016: Making Sense of Illustrated Handwritten Archives, Digital Humanities 2016, Krakow (co-authored short paper, see list of publications above).
- Montreal, 2016: Making Governance Work: Paper in the Dutch Empire, 1790-1820. Winter speaker series 2016, Indian Ocean World Centre, McGill University.
- Philadelphia, 2016: Natural Historical Archives as Digital Challenge, Glam Café at University of Pennsylvania (Kislak center).
- Philadelphia, 2015: Making Money Circulate: Chemistry and ‘Governance’ in the Career of Coins in the Early 19th-Century Dutch Empire. Brown Bag Lecture. Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF).
- Groningen, 2015: Making Governance Work: Paper in the Dutch Empire, 1790-1820. Seminar for the Center for Historical Studies.
- Florence, 2014: Making Money Circulate: Chemistry and ‘Governance’ in the Career of Coins in the Early Nineteenth Century Dutch Empire, workshop of the international research network: Sites of Chemistry, 1760-1840.
- Philadelphia, 2014: Governing Fluids. Chemistry and Empire in the Career of Hydrometers, 1800-1820. Chemical Reactions: Chemistry and Global History. Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF).
- Boston, 2013: A Master of Paperwork: C.G.C. Reinwardt (1773-1854), Natural History and the Governance of the Dutch Empire in the East. History of Science Society (HSS), Annual meeting.
- Uppsala, 2013 (together with Joppe van Driel): Backbones of Productivity, Fertilizer, Writing Paper and Ink in the Netherlands, 1780-1815, International Conference for the History of Chemistry.
- Leuven, 2013: Searching for Surrogates: Paper and Ink in the Netherlands, 1780-1830, workshop of the international research network: Sites of Chemistry, 1760-1840.
- Utrecht, 2013: Towards a History of Paperwork: Writing Paper in the Netherlands, 1780-1800. Descartes Colloquium.
- London, 2012. Putting Accumulation in its Time and Place: Leiden and Batavia, c. 1820. Informal lunch lecture at the LSE, project: Useful and Reliable Knowledge in Global Histories of Material Progress in the East and the West (URKRW).
- Den Haag, 2010. Forging New Connections: Adriaan David Cornets de Groot Junior (1804-1829) and the mapping of the Javanese language in the early nineteenth century, Najaarscongres KNHG ‘A new Dutch imperial History’.
- Mumbai, 2010. Do Local Encounters Matter? The Life and Career of the Naturalist and Colonial Administrator C.G.C. Reinwardt (1773-1854), Second ENCOMPASS Conference on the topic: Monsoon Asia in the Age of Revolutions, 1780-1830. Changes of regime and their aftermath.
- Amsterdam, 2009. Natural History in Dispute: Humboldtian Naturalists in the Netherlands Indies and their ‘Alternative reading’ of nature, 1815-1850. KNAW (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences) symposium on the topic: ‘Alexander von Humboldt in Holland (1800-1900)’
- Jakarta, 2008. The Dutch East Indies as “Contact Zone” for Natural-Historical Research, 1815-1850. Encompass Pilot Conference.
- Hagen, 2008. Die wissenschaftliche Erschließung Niederländisch-Ostindiens im frühen 19. Jahrhundert – (deutsche) Naturforscher im Spannungsfeld von Wissenschaft und kolonialer Expansion. Presentation at research colloquium, Prof. Reinhard Wendt, FernUniversität Hagen.
- Oxford, 2008. Naturalists as Mediators of Knowledge in an Expanding Dutch Colonial Empire, 1815-1850. Three Societies Meeting: Connecting Disciplines.
- Leiden, 2008. A kingdom and its ‘imagined’ colony? – The Malay Archipelago in the Eyes of the Naturalist C.G.C. Reinwardt (1773-1854). Workshop: Local Encounters and the Global Circulation of Knowledge, 1750-1850 at Leiden University.
- Bamberg, 2008. Sprache als Werkzeug kolonialer Expansion: Die Erschließung des Javanischen am Beispiel Adriaan David Cornets de Groot (1804-1829). Annual Meeting of the German Society for Overseas History, Bamberg. Conference topic: Language barriers, linguistic contacts and cultural brokers in the history of Europe’s encounter with the extra-European world.
- Woudschoten (Utrecht), June 2022: Co-organizer of the conference Contested Expertise: Trust in Science and Technology (=9th Gewina Woudschoten Conference), 17-18 June 2022.
- Vienna (virtual), February 2021: Organizer and co-chair of a special session on challenges and opportunities of Artificial Intelligence & Digital Heritage (ARTIDIGH 2021). The special session forms part of the 13th international conference on Agents and Artificial Intelligence (ICAART 2020) to be hold in Vienna, 4-6 February 2021.
- Leiden, November 2020: Initiator and conference chair of the international conference: Collect & Connect: Archives and Collections in a Digital Age, 22-24 November 2020, Naturalis Biodiversity Center.
- Malta, February 2020: Initiator and co-chair of a special session on challenges and opportunities of Artificial Intelligence & Digital Heritage (ARTIDIGH 2020). The special session forms part of the 12th international conference on Agents and Artificial Intelligence (ICAART 2020) to be hold in Malta, 22 – 24 February 2020.
- Leiden, 2017: Organization of the international symposium Managing Alliances: Plant Sciences at Bogor Botanical Gardens 1817-2017. Hortus Botanicus Leiden (together with Robert-Jan Wille (Utrecht University), and prof. Paul Kessler, prefect of the Hortus Botanicus in Leiden).
- Philadelphia, 2016: Organization of workshop on the material history of a paper at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. (together with Simon Werrett)
- Valkenswaard, 2015: Organization of a public symposium on the chemistry of litography. (together with Ernst Homburg)
- Leiden and Eindhoven, 2014 and 2015: Organization of public mini-symposia on the history of rare earths, uranium and phosphorus. (together with Ernst Homburg and Rob van Veen)
- Twente, 2014: Organization of the annual internal research conference (STePS Research days). (together with Annalisa Pelizza)
- Boston, 2013: Organization of a panel on Paper and Paperwork: Tools of Governance and Science. (together with Megan Williams)
- Leiden, 2010: Organization of a mini-symposium on Unravelling the Archives of the Natuurkundige Commissie voor Nederlandsch Indië (1820-1850). (together with Leonard Blussé, Chris Smeenk en Eulàlia Gassó-Miracle)
- Leiden, 2008. Organization of an international workshop on Local Encounters and the Global Circulation of Knowledge, 1750-1850 at Leiden University. (together with Lissa Roberts)
UT Research Information System
Google Scholar Link
From September 2020 onwards, Andreas is PhD training coordinator of WTMC - the Netherlands Graduate Research School of Science, Technology, and Modern Culture.
Andreas' main teaching activities are related to the University of Twente's Master program: Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Society (PSTS). In the context of the PSTS program, Andreas teaches the following courses:
- History of Science and Technology (201400574)
- Transformations of Knowledge in a Digital Age (201800146), co-developed and co-taught with with dr. K. Karaca
- MasterLab (202000254), co-taught with dr. J. Hermann
- Technology & Social Order (191622510), co-taught with dr. K. Konrad
Incidentally, Andreas also contributes lectures to the University wide BA program Reflections on Science and Technology (RESTS) such as the course Industrial Chemical Process & Project Sustainable Industrial Chemistry (202000735).
Andreas also contributes to the Master Insert module Societal leadership (201900227) in which students with various disciplinary backgrounds work on tackeling regional societal challenges. This course allows me to experiment with new forms of Challenge Based Learning (CBL).
Andreas has also developed and taught courses on Dutch (colonial) history, history of science and technology in colonial and global context at Leiden University.
From 2017 to 2020, he was also course director of the international summer course Technology and Society, which took place in the context of the Twente Summer School CuriousU. A shortened version of this course was also offered in the context of the UT Autumn Challenges program in 2020 and 2021.
In October 2018, Andreas has hold a guest lectureship for the History of Science and Technology in Indonesia at Gadjah Mada University (UGM) in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
In the past, he also has worked as temporary coordinator (2 x 6 months) of the Leiden ENCOMPASS program, a training program for BA- and MA students from all over Asia.
Affiliated Study Programmes
Courses Academic Year 2021/2022
Courses Academic Year 2020/2021
- P. van Wingerden (my role: co-promotor, promotor: prof. F. van Lunteren, VU and U Leiden): Science, Natural History and the Dutch empire in the first half of the nineteenth century (in progress since mid-2017)
- M. Susanto (my role: co-promotor, promotor is: prof. J. Gommans, U Leiden): Making Sense of the Tropics: Health, Medicine and Knowledge Production in the Early Modern Indian Ocean World (working title) (in progress, since 2019)
- S. Middelveld (my role: co-PI, together with Dr Marco Altomare (UT), Dr Laura Franco-Garcia (UT), Dr Kornelia Konrad (UT), project: Socio-technical pathways and material choices for a responsible electrification of the production of chemicals and fuels (NWO/ECCM MVI Top-up, 2022-2025)
Since September 2020, I also develop and coordinate PhD training for the Netherlands Graduate Research School of Science, Technology, and Modern Culture (WTMC).
Participation in PhD examinations
- 2022: Oponent and member of doctoral examination committee of the dissertation: Meta data enrichment for improving the quality and usability of botanical collections (by Krishna Kumar Thirukokaranam Chandrasekar, Ghent University)
- 2021: Oponent and member of doctoral examination committee (reading committee) of the dissertation: Context-Driven Knowledge Extraction from Archives of Natural History (by Lise Stork, Leiden University).
- 2019: Oponent and member of doctoral examination committee (reading committee) of the dissertation: Temminck's order: Debates on Zoological Classification, 1800-1850 (by E. Gassó Miracle, Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden; Leiden University).
Research projects (selection):
3] Socio-technical pathways and material choices for a responsible electrification of the production of chemicals and fuels (NWO/ECCM MVI Top-up, 2022-2025), total project volume: 389 000 euros
My role: Co-principal investor, co-author of the project proposal
Collaborators: Dr Marco Altomare (University of Twente, PI), Dr Laura Franco-Garcia (University of Twente, Co-PI) Dr Kornelia Konrad (University of Twente, Co-PI)
This project studies possible pathways towards producing ‘green’ chemicals based on newly developed electrolysers, and the environmental and societal implications related to the choice of materials involved. It applies a long-term perspective by scrutinising present application scenarios, anticipating future pathways, and by learning from challenges in preceding innovation trajectories.
2] Making Sense of Illustrated Handwritten Archives (NWO / Brill, 2016-2020), total project volume: 860 000 euros
My role: member of the manging team, researcher, co-author of the project proposal.
Collaborators: Leiden University (PI), Groningen University, Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Brill publishers, Leiden, University of Twente
Large and important parts of our cultural heritage are stored in archives that are difficult to access. Documents and notes are written in hard-to-read historical handwriting and are weakly structured, precluding access to a wider public, or to scientists and other experts. Computer-based recognition of connected-cursive script is, in general, distinctly beyond the scope of current technology. This project will investigate this challenging problem by attempting to interpret the notes and illustrations of the Natuurkundige Commissie. It is one of the top-collections of Naturalis Biodiversity Center, containing a rich account of 17,000 pages of scientific exploration of the Indonesian Archipelago (1820- 1850). Correctly interpreting illustrated handwritten historical archives is hard. For handwriting recognition we use the MONK system, a state-of-the-art machine learning handwriting system. Yet, we may rely on the circumstances of the committee’s voyages, and contextual information of the species, locations and habitats. This information will be used to support the handwriting recognition of the historic collection. MONK will be extended with layout formatting and ontology elements. Furthermore, the Naturalis taxonomic expertise, in combination with history of science methods, are used to bootstrap, train and refine the system. The project aims to develop a technologically advanced and user-centered digital environment that provides access to archives containing handwritten notes and illustrations. This technological tool, that combines both image and textual recognition, allows, for the first time, an integrated study of underexplored scientific heritage collections and archives in general.
1] Eventscapes: Providing Spatio-Temporal Access to the Prize Papers (2017/2018), total project volume ca. 15 000 euros
My role: co-author and initiator of the proposal, member of the manging team, researcher
This project focusses on an important set of digitized historical documents stemming from what is called the Prize Papers Archive. Over the last years, a section of this heterogeneous collection has been digitized by Brill publishers: the interrogations. Providing a wide variety of information about ships and their crews, the interrogations give an unprecedented insight in the workings of the maritime sector during the Age of Sail. In order to provide easy access to this valuable historical collection, we develop a flexible and potentially adaptable dashboard which functions as intermediary between the interrogations and their users. In realizing the dashboard, we make the documents accessible and prepare them for further analysis. Potentially researchers, curators of digital collections, but also the interested public will be able to use the dashboard to detect and contextualize spatio-temporal patterns in the form of digital maps and linked timelines (= an eventscape). This allows the user to confirm or reject earlier hypotheses, while newly discovered patterns can be new food for thought. The dashboard will be integrated in a web environment offered by Brill, currently called Prize Papers Online. The eventual goal of the project is to develop an elaborated proposal for a large project that will generate a generic digital solution for dealing with digitized historical document collections from a space-time perspective. The dashboard and the proposal built on the historical knowhow of Huygens-ING, cutting edge visualization techniques provided by UT/ITC, and the expertise of a digital heritage expert (UT/STePS).
My research is regularly mentioned national and international media. For a limited selection of items see the following list:
- Interview and expert comment: Multimodal puzzles in a Natural History Archive (December 2020), I/O magazine ICT research platform Netherlands, see here.
- Expert comment: Natuurhistorie Indonesië online by M. Heerlien (February 2020), see here.
- Article in Bionews (4 November 2017, p. 5) by N. Peeters on the international workshop ‘Managing Alliances: Plant Science at Bogor Botanical Gardens 1817-2017’ which I have organized with colleagues from Utrecht and the Hortus Botanicus in Leiden.
- Article and interview in de Volkskrant (July 3, 2017) on the Making Sense project and my research. The item which carries the title ‘Verslag uit de jungle is ook een jungle uit papier’ is written by Geertje Dekkers.
- Feature article and interview in Bionews (February 25, 2017) on my research in the context of the collaborative project Making Sense of Illustrated Handwritten Archives. The 2-page piece written by Menno Schilthuizen is called ‘Terabytes aan Tropenjaren’.
- Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (2016): Mention of the exhibition ‘Wealth of Waste’ in the NWO annual report for the year 2015.
- Tubantia (24 October 2015): UT helpt om een schat aan handgeschreven kennis te ontsluiten.
- Kennis van Nu, NPO Wetenschap (2015): Radio interview on the exhibition Rijk van Rotzooi at Museum Boerhaave in Leiden (together with Joppe van Driel).
- El Sol de Mexico (October 25, 2015), Reciclaje, una costumbre milenaria. One page illustrated article on the exhibition Wealth of Waste.
- Chemisch2Weekblad (July 3, 2015) short piece on the exhibition Rijk van Rotzooi titled: “Wat een rotzooi rijkdom”.
- UnityFM, Leiden (2015): Radio interview on exhibition Rijk van Rotzooi at Museum Boerhaave.
- Leidsch Dagblad en Haarlems Dagblad (June 25, 2015): Boerhaave vol rotzooi: Historisch recyclen met poep en pis.
- Noordhollands Dagblad (June 25, 2015): In de ‘oeconomie’ van de 19e eeuw ging het niet alleen om winst
- Volkskrant (March 12, 2011): Te kijk. Collectie Natuurkundige Commissie. Een schat in Leiden.
- New York Times Online (2011): Slide show on the ‘Committee for Natural History’ (together with Chris Smeenk and Richard Conniff).