Sandra Klos


I completed my undergraduate years at the University of Heidelberg at the History Department with two semesters abroad in Canada at Queen’s University, ON. My final thesis was about representations of masculinity and modernity in the context of the first modern Olympic Games. I was fortunate enough to go there with a scholarship provided by the state of Baden-Württemberg. During my last year as a Bachelor student, I became a fellow of the German Academic Scholarship Foundation, which I remained until I finished my master’s degree. In October 2016, I enrolled in “MATILDA”, a binational European master degree program in Women’s and Gender History, of which I completed the first year at the University of Vienna and the second at the Université de Lumière II, Lyon, France. I concluded this program with an analysis of gendered perspectives in 19th century “gypsyology”, established by French anthropologist Paul Bataillard. Since 2017 to this day, I work as a researcher in different history of science projects at the Austria Academy of Sciences. 

Research interests: My main field of research is late 19th and early 20th century European history with special attention to the history of science and aspects of gender. At the Austrian Academy of Sciences, I am mostly concerned with the history of this institution and its wider prosopographical contexts.

Current research project: Between documentation and self-fashioning. Autobiographies by members of the Academy of Sciences in Vienna, late 19th to early 20th centuries
My dissertation project will be about scientific careers and the particular ways scientists have written about their own life and careers in science. With regard to symbolic capital, the learned society of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, founded in 1847, represents Austrians scientific elite. Tenured professors and high-level officials form until their death a closed society to which only the secret elections open doors. When a member dies, a student or colleague is asked to write an obituary about the deceased, which will be published in the Academy's almanac. Less known, however, is the fact that these obituaries have already been prepared by members during their lifetime as they handed in a autobiographic description of themselves after their election. I have taken from all the personal files of academy members these texts and will put them in an comparative analytical framework for my dissertation project. I have accumulated more than 180 CVs in total from the late 19th century to the early 20th century. Some of these texts consist only of a few words on their titles and honors; others fill dozens of pages and contain very personal stories. By comparing them, I am able to examine the prosopographical composition, the institutional organization and the historic transformation of the Austrian scientific landscape.
I approach the topic with Bourdieu's concepts about forms of capital, social fields, and distinct habitus. I understand "science" as a whole or more specific academic subcultures as social fields. First, by means of quantitative, sociological tools, I assess the author's social capital. Second, I identify contributing and retarding factors on a scientist's career and thus am able to make the Bourdieuan concept more dynamic and better explain the historic accumulation of cultural and economic capital. Finally, I interpret the autobiographies' narrative elements as an expression of a distinct learned and bourgeois habitus and thus explore reasons for their scientific practices and self-representation.
Through my research, I combine and apply sociological, literary, and bio-historical approaches in the history of science. Thus, I would like to argue that the autobiographies of accomplished professionals in the natural sciences and humanities reveal the discursive tension between different forms of knowledge, their epistemologies as well as the importance of informal scholarly networks. Through their writing, scientists inscribed themselves into the history of science as being important and memorable. Writing about one's own experiences thus is more than the documentation of a life in science, but it can be a scientific practice itself, namely an opportunity for self-fashioning.