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School of Social and Political Science: Staff profiles


Michael Barany

Michael Barany
Michael Barany
Lecturer in the History of Science
Science Technology and Innovation Studies School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh
B.2 Chisholm House High School Yards Edinburgh UK
+44 (0)131 650 9096
Research Interests
History of Mathematics, History of science, History of the exact sciences, Sociology of Knowledge, Cultural studies of science and technology

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • By appointment.


Raised in Minnesota, USA, in a family of scientists, I studied mathematics and its history and sociology at Cornell University (AB, 2008); the history and philosophy of science at the University of Cambridge (MPhil, 2009); science & technology studies at the University of Edinburgh (MSc, 2010); and the history of science at Princeton University (PhD, 2016). From 2016 to 2018 I was a member of the Dartmouth College (USA) Society of Fellows, and then briefly held a US National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellowship before beginning my lectureship at Edinburgh in late 2018.

You can read more about my background and work at


Research Interests

History of Mathematics, History of science, History of the exact sciences, Sociology of Knowledge, Cultural studies of science and technology

Research Overview

I study the relationship between abstract knowledge and the modern world. Combining historical, sociological, and other methods, I investigate how people produce such knowledge; how it derives from their social, political, and other contexts; and how they use that knowledge to shape those contexts in turn.

This topic has taken me to a wide range of subjects over the years, from dots and diagrams in sixteenth-century books, to mathematical rigor in the wake of the French Revolution, to Victorian anthropologists' attempts to understand the farthest reaches of prehistory by asking how civilizations learn to count, all the way to present-day mathematicians' efforts to collaborate using technologies as grand as the Internet and as mundane as chalk and blackboards. My main current project concerns the globalization of modern mathematics.

For more about my research, please refer in to my website,

Current Projects

I am working on a variety of projects related to the modern global history of mathematics, as well as mathematical, numerical, and algorithmic thinking in social and historical context. While developing theoretical and critical perspectives on these topics, I am also interested in their implications for education, policy, and public understanding. My research methods include archival history (especially institutional and academic archives), historiography, and close reading of published and archival sources.


Guidance and Feedback Hours

By appointment.

Undergraduate Teaching

STIS08005: History of Science I (course convenor)

Postgraduate Teaching

MAC-MIGS Responsible Research and Innovation workshop

PhD Supervision

PhD Topics

History, sociology, and cultural studies of modern mathematical and physical sciences; scientific institutions, internationalism, and globalisation; quantification, abstraction, algorithms, and society; historiography of science and mathematics.

Find out more about the programmes that I am involved with:

PhD in Science and Technology Studies; MSc (R) Science and Technology Studies


Please see for links to my publications.