Hello! I’m David, one of the new Research Associates on the Taming the European Leviathan project. Kate and I will be co-editing this new blog, in which we hope to share some interesting ideas about the research we are conducting, an insight into our life at the University of Hamburg, and our thoughts as British historians living in Germany. Before coming to Hamburg, I was a PhD student at the University of Kent and had completed an MA in philosophy at the University of London.
My research lies at the cross section between intellectual history and the philosophy of science and medicine. I’m interested in how the methodologies and practices within the biosciences underlie and support fundamental ethical and ideological ideas about human nature. My doctoral thesis explored how the statistical and quantitative methodologies used by doctors and geneticists during the post-war period supported eugenic and biosocial ideas about the identification and differentiation between normal and pathological populations, as well as attempts to influence the reproductive choices of certain couples and social groups.
Currently, I am conducting research on several different topics broadly within the history of medical genetics and population genetics. I’m looking into a number of different archives across varying European contexts to piece together the history of how statistical methodologies developed during the latter half of the twentieth century to provide an evidential case for population genetics. I’m particularly interested in exploring how this ‘faith in numbers’ among a varied network of European scientists and their collection of ‘big data’ on family pedigrees provided an evidential foundation that could adapt to widely disparate ideological contexts, from state-socialism to the capitalist state. I hope that this history will help inform debates about the collection and uses of human genetic data today.
Outside of my research, I have far too many hobbies. I enjoy playing piano – Chopin and Bill Evans are long held favourites. Before the pandemic, my French wife and I would travel frequently. I enjoy writing, and I’m looking forward to hopefully finding a creative writing group to join in Hamburg. I’m also an adventurous gourmand – I enjoy listening to the radio and cooking big meals for friends, discovering new types of cuisine and their histories, and meeting people through food. I’m also the proud owner of a substantial boardgame collection.