Prometheus Tamed 

Fire, Security, and Modernities, 1400 to 1900


Over 8,200 large city fires broke out between 1000 and 1939 CE in Central Europe. Prometheus Tamed inquires into the long-term history of that fire ecology, its local and regional frequencies, its relationship to climate history. It asks for the visual and narrative representation of that threat in every-day life. Institutional forms of fire insurance emerged in the form of private joint stock companies (the British model, starting in 1681) or in the form of cameralist fire insurances (the German model, starting in 1676). They contributed to shape and change society, transforming old communities of charitable solidarity into risk communities, finally supplemented by networks of cosmopolite aid. After 1830, insurance agencies expanded tremendously quickly all over the globe: Cultural clashes of Western and native perceptions of fire risk and of what is insurance can be studied as part of a critical archaeology of world risk society and the plurality of modernities.

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Cornel Zwierlein, Ph.D. (2003) University of Munich (LMU) and the CESR Tours is currently on a Heisenberg-Stelle at the Friedrich-Meinecke-Institut, FU Berlin. Before he was w1-Prof. 2008-2017. He holds the Habilitation (Privatdozent) at RUB Bochum (2011/3), was Fellow at the History Department, Harvard University 2013-2015, Associate there 2016, 2018, CRASSH Cambridge 2014, Max-Weber-Kolleg Erfurt 2017/18. His monographs include: Discorso and Lex Dei (French Wars of Religion, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht: 2006), The Political Thought of the French League and Rome, 1585-1589 (Droz: 2016) and Imperial Unknowns. The French and the British in the Mediterranean, 1650-1750 (Cambridge UP, 2016/8).
Historians of Early Modern and Modern Central Europe, Germany, Austria, England; Economic Historians (Insurance History); History of Ideas (Society, Self-Care, Theology, Legal History of insurance); Environmental History (Natural Hazards, Climate, Security), Historians of Art and Architecture (Landscape, Cityscape representation, History of Maps, of Planning and post-disaster Rebuilding of Cities); History of Sociology (concepts of Risk, Future, Planning, Ignorance); Global History and Multiple Modernities.