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How is it that certain ideas get taken up and lead to policy changes? In this video, KERSTIN MARIA PAHL looks at how an increasing interest in human feelings at the end of the eighteenth century underpinned subsequent efforts to abolish child labor. Employing semantic, sociological, quantitative and qualitative tools to trace philosophical alongside technological developments, Pahl’s interdisciplinary approach provides us with new insight on the “age of sensibility”. Ongoing work will explore the darker side of the prioritization of feelings in relation to missionary expeditions and military practice.


Kerstin Maria Pahl is a researcher in the Centre for the History of Emotions at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. Having completed her binational PhD in Art and Visual History at Humboldt University and King’s College London in 2018, Pahl has also worked at the Cultural Federation of the German States. Her research interests include the history of emotions, the history of knowledge and the culture of the Enlightenment. Pahl’s book, Visualizing Lives: Portraits and Biographies in England, c. 1680 to 1750, is scheduled for publication with Liverpool University Press in 2023.


Max Planck Institute for Human Development

The Max Planck Institute for Human Development is dedicated to the study of human development, education, and human-machine interaction. Researchers of various disciplines; including psychology, education, sociology, medicine, history, economics, computer science, and mathematics; work together on interdisciplinary projects at the Berlin Institute. The research questions they examine include how people make effective decisions even under time pressure and information overload, how the school as an institution affects students; development and learning processes, how the interaction between behaviour and brain function changes over a persons lifespan, how human emotions change in a historical context and how they have affected the course of history itself, as well as what social innovations and challenges digitalization brings with it.

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