Kasper Risbjerg Eskildsen
  • Universitetsvej 1, 42.1

    DK-4000 Roskilde


Personal profile


Kasper Risbjerg Eskildsen is a historian of science. His work focuses on the history of the human sciences as well as the history of higher education in the modern era, from the 17th century to today.  

He is currently working on two research projects, both of which have a global outlook. The first project, with the working title Things of the Past: A Modern Yearning, traces the engagement with the material remains of the past from Early Modern antiquarianism to recent discussions about the repatriation of material cultural heritage to former European colonies. The second project, Making Humans: The Human Sciences and the Modern University, investigates alternative models to the modern specialized university, emerging in different parts of the world during the last century, and asks how these have shaped our ideas about what it means to be human in the modern world.


He recieved his MA from the University of Copenhagen (1999) and his PhD from Freie Universität Berlin (2003). He has held teaching, research, and visiting postitions at the University of Copenhagen, University of Chicago, Harvard University, University of California at San Diego, University of Amsterdam, Max Planck Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte in Berlin and École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris.

He was founding president of the Critical Edge Alliance, a global alliance of experimental and alternative universities and colleges, from 2016 to 2022. In 2020, he co-founded the European Reform University Alliance and he headed its research group for Reimagining Research and Higher Education from 2020 to 2023.

He leads the Science Studies research group at Roskilde University.  


Modern Historiography in the Making: The German Sense of the Past, 1700-1900 (Bloomsbury, 2022). (Reading sample)

(Reviews: Journal of Modern History, Intellectual History Review, Global Intellectual History, International Network for Theory of History, Austrian History Yearbook, History of Humanities, Central European History, Choice, Francia, Historisk Tidsskrift, Journal of the Philosophy of History)

Edited volumes

Humaniora? En spørgende videnskabsteori (Samfundslitteratur, 2020). (Reading sample).

(with Rens Bod), The Classics of the Humanities I: From the Enlightenment to the Digital Age, special issue of History of Humanities, 2019.

(with Martin Mulsow and Helmut Zedelmaier), Christoph August Heumann (1681-1764): Gelehrte Praxis zwischen christlichem Humanismus und Aufklärung (Franz Steiner Verlag, 2017). 

(Reviews: History of Humanities, Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung, Francia)

Selected papers

"The Humanities in the Vocational University: On the Unity of Teaching and Research," Writing the History of the Humanities: Questions, Themes and Approaches, ed. Herman Paul (Bloomsbury, 2022), 267-285.

"Virtues of History: Exercises, Seminars, and the Emergence of the German Historical Discipline, 1830-1900," History of Universities, 34, 1 (2021), 27-40.

(with Rens Bod) "The Forgotten Curriculum of the Humanities," History of Humanities, 4, 2 (2019), 219-227.

"Scholarship as a Way of Life: Character and Virtue in the Age of Big Humanities", History of Humanities, 1, 2 (2016), 387-397.

"Relics of the Past: Antiquarianism and Archival Authority in Enlightenment Germany," Storia della Storiografia, 68, 2 (2015), 69-81.

"Private Übungen und verkörpertes Wissen: Zur Unterrichtspraxis der Geschichtswissenschaft im 19. Jahrhundert," Akademische Wissenskulturen : Praktiken des Lehrens und Forschens vom Mittelalter bis zur Moderne, eds. Martin Kintzinger og Sita Steckel (Basel: Schwabe Verlag, 2015), 143-161.

“Inventing the Archive: Testimony and Virtue in Modern Historiography,” History of the Human Sciences, 26, 4 (2013), 8-26.

"The Language of Objects: Christian Jürgensen Thomsen's Science of the Past," Isis, 103, 1 (2012), 24-53.

"Exploring the Republic of Letters: German Travellers in the Dutch Underground, 1690-1720," Scientists and Scholars in the Field: Studies in the History of Fieldwork and Expeditions, eds. Kristian H. Nielsen, Michael Harbsmeier, and Christopher J. Ries (Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 2012), 101-122.

“Leopold Ranke’s Archival Turn: Location and Evidence in Modern Historiography,” Modern Intellectual History, 5, 3 (2008), 425-453.   (Prize: 2009 Best Article Award of the Forum for History of Human Science).

“Christian Thomasius, Invisible Philosophers, and Education for Enlightenment,” Intellectual History Review, 18, 3 (2008), 319-336.

“Leopold von Ranke, la passion de la critique et le séminaire d’histoire,” Lieux de savoir: Espaces et communautés, ed. Christian Jacob (Paris: Albin Michel, 2007), 462-482.

“How Germany left the Republic of Letters,” Journal of the History of Ideas, 65, 3 (2004), 421-432.


  • History, Society
  • Theory of science, History and sociology of science, knowledge and technology, Research policy
  • Education, Learning, Training

Publication network

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