The Pierre du Bois Prize 2017 – Felix Christoph Ohnmacht


The recipient of the Pierre du Bois Prize 2017, awarded annually for the best doctoral thesis in International History defended at the Graduate Institute, Geneva, was Dr Felix Ohnmacht.

Dr Ohnmacht received the prize on 15 September for his thesis Epistemic Dark Matter: Knowledge in the Sagas of Popular Scientists in Basel’s Enlightenment Period. Based on a micro-history of Basel, the dissertation looks at popular science and knowledge during the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment – periods commonly known for having discovered science and reason tout court. Dr Ohnmacht extrapolates from this local history to speak to the broader processes of science production during this period and, importantly, highlights how official formalization efforts delegitimized popular / ‘subaltern’ science. Put simply, the dissertation presents a history of the ‘scramble for science’ – told from below – and the politically-driven project of disciplining knowledge.

Dr Ohnmacht, who was a visiting researcher at Princeton University and the Max Planck Society, graduated with the highest honours, summa cum laude avec félicitations du jury, for both the dissertation and the defence.

Please view his profile here for further information.

The Pierre du Bois Prize is awarded annually to the best doctoral thesis in contemporary history written in the International History Department at the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies in Geneva. It is worth 5000 CHF.