Prof.dr. L.L. Roberts (Lissa)

lissa roberts

Ravelijn room RA 4416

Lissa Roberts
PO Box 217
7500 AE Enschede

E-mail: l.l.roberts (at)
Telephone: (053) 489 4674
Fax: (053) 489 2159


Lissa Roberts is professor of long term development of science and technology at the University of Twente. She received her PhD in European cultural and intellectual history at U.C.L.A., where she wrote a dissertation entitled From Natural Theology to Naturalism: Diderot and the Perception of Rapports. Since that time, she has held positions at a number of universities in both the United States (including UCLA, University of California at Irvine, Washington University and San Diego State University) and the Netherlands. She now heads the STeP’s research program on ‘long term development of science and technology’.


Roberts’ current interests are oriented around four broad themes: 1] tracing the historical evolution and transgressions of the (claimed) divide between ‘science’ and ‘technology’; 2] investigating science and technology as co-evolutionary constituents of the broader context in which they develop; 3] integrating the history of science and technology as constituent elements of global history; 4] understanding entrepreneurialism and innovation in historical context. This can be seen in her current research and recent publications, which focus on topics including eighteenth-century chemistry, the early development and application of steam technology, ‘entrepreneurial engineers’ and the cultural history of science and technology in and around Tokugawa Japan.


  • Roberts is coordinator of the undergraduate Minor in History.
  • She also teaches core course for the master’s program PSTS:
  • 191622510 Technology and Social Order

Professional activities

  • Editor, History of Science (beginning 2015)
  • Member, editorial board, British Journal for the History of Science (since 2007)
  • Member, editorial board, Artefact: Techniques, histoires et sciences humaines (since 2013)

Selected Publications

Edited Volumes and Special Issues:

  • Centers of Accumulation and Management (special issue of History of Science, 2014.)
  • Centres and cycles of accumulation in and around the Netherlands during the early modern period (LIT Verlag, 2011).
  • The brokered world: Go-betweens and global intelligence 1770-1820, with Simon Schaffer, Kapil Raj and James Delbourgo (Science History Publications, 2009).
  • Local encounters and the global circulation of knowledge, 1750-1850 (special issue of Itinerario, 2009).
  • The mindful hand in global perspective, with Ian Inkster (special issue of History of Technology, 2009).
  • The Mindful Hand: Inquiry and Invention from the late Renaissance to early Industrialization, with Simon Schaffer and Peter Dear (Edita/University of Chicago Press, 2007).
  • The Places of Chemistry in 18th Century England and the Netherlands, with Rina Knoeff (special issue of Ambix, Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry, 2006).
  • Refereed Articles and Chapters:
  • "'Le centre de toutes choses': Constructing and managing centralization on the Isle de France," History of Science 52 (2014).
  • "Accumulation and management in global historical perspective: An introduction," History of Science 52 (2014).
  • "The senses in philosophy and science: Blindness and insight," Anne Vila, ed., A cultural history of the senses in the age of enlightenment (London, 2014).
  • Roberts, L.L. (2013). Agency and industry: Charles C. Gillispie’s "The Natural History of Industry," then and now. Technology and Culture, 54(4), 922-941.
  • Roberts, L.L. (2013). "Rethinking centres and peripheries in the Enlightenment: Toward a global history of science," De Achttiende Eeuw 44 (2013).
  • "The Circulation of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe: Embodiment, Mobility, Learning and Knowing," History of Technology 31 (2012): 47-68.
  • “A very human tale,” History and Technology, 2011.
  • “Geographies of steam: Mapping the entrepreneurial activities of steam engineers in France during the second half of the 18th century,” History and Technology, 2011.
  • “Instruments of science and citizenship: Science education for Dutch orphans during the late 18th century,” Science and education, 2011.
  • “Centres and cycles of accumulation: an introduction,” Lissa Roberts, ed., Centres of Accumulation (2011).
  • “Full steam ahead: entrepreneurial engineers in eighteenth-century Europe,” Lissa Roberts et al, The brokered world, 2009.
  • “Frontier tales: Tokugawa Japan in translation,” Lissa Roberts et al, The brokered world, 2009. (Written under pseudonym, Robert Liss)
  • “Contact zones and global networks of exchange,” Local encounters and the global circulation of knowledge, 1750-1850 (special issue of Itinerario, 2009).
  • “Generating knowledge and know-how: Dutch-Japanese trade during the second half of the eighteenth century,” The mindful hand in global perspective, with Ian Inkster (special issue of History of Technology, 2009).
  • “Re-orienting natural knowledge: The complex career of Hiraga Gennai, Endeavour, 2009.
  • “Mapping steam engines and skill in eighteenth-century Holland,” L. Roberts et al, The Mindful Hand (Edita/University of Chicago Press, 2007).
  • “The mindful hand, preface” L. Roberts et al, The Mindful Hand (Edita/University of Chicago Press, 2007).
  • “The content of the form,” Technology and culture, 2007.
  • “P.J. Kasteleyn and the oeconomics of chemistry,” Ambix (2006).
  • “The places of chemistry in 18th century Great Britain and the Netherlands: Introduction,” Ambix (2006).
  • “Location and Identity in the History of Dutch Steam Engines,” Bart Grob and Hans Hooijmaijers, eds., Who needs Scientific Instruments? (Leiden, 2006).
  • “Devices Without Borders: What an eighteenth-century display of steam engines can teach us about ‘public’ and ‘popular’ science,” Science and Education (2006).
  • “The Death of the Sensuous Chemist: The changing role of sense evidence in the establishment of modern chemistry,” David Howes, ed. Sensual Culture Reader (Berg Press, 2005).
  • “An Arcadian Apparatus: Steam engines and landscapes in the history of Dutch culture,” Technology and Culture (2004). (Winner of Abbott Payson Usher Prize 2006 for best history of technology article published in last three years.)