Welcoming Kratter Visiting Professor Silvia Sebastiani

Silvia Sebastiani joins Stanford History Department in Winter  2024 as Kratter Visiting Professor in European History. An expert in Scottish Enlightenment, Professor Sebastiani studies the entangled networks of animals, slaves and material goods in the eighteenth century, exploring how they activated scientific, philosophical, political and legal debates that re-framed the Enlightenment sciences of humanity. 

Professor Sebastiani received her Ph.D. from the European University Institute (Firenze, Italy). Currently, she is Director of École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) with active participation in EHESS working groups on Gender History and Modern Histographies.  She is the author of The Scottish Enlightenment: Race, Gender, and the Limits of Progress (Palgrave 2013), which received the István Hont Book Prize from the Institute of Intellectual History. The book examines how the difference between monogenist and polygenist accounts of the origin of the human race was reflected in, and helped to shape, Scottish Enlightenment accounts of society's progress through historical stages and by examining the works of historians, philosophers, and other thinkers. She has published many articles and book chapters, and is now  working on a project on the boundaries of humanity.

During her Stanford residency, Professor Sebastani will present a number of papers, including a HPST seminar and a guest lecture in HISTORY 41Q: The Ape Museum: Exploring the Idea of the Ape in Global History, Science, Art and Film . She will also hold meetings with Stanford faculty members and graduate students working on history of science, early  modern Europe, gender, and race.  

The residency is supported by the endowment for Kratter Chair in European History, established in 1962 with Mr. Marvin Kratter's generous foresight to deepen intellectual networks and international collaboration among scholars of post-Renaissance European History.