Andrea Bréard

Mathematician, science historian, sinologist and philosopher Andrea Bréard investigates the history of mathematics in China. She draws on economic, political and social history to acquire insights into China’s intellectual history in its entirety.

  • Nominating university: Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU)
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History of science

Andrea Bréard’s main focus is the history of Chinese mathematics from the late imperial period into the 20th century. In this context, she looks well beyond the history of mathematics in China, combining economic history with political and social history to gain insights into the development of intellectual history in China in its entirety. Her research on the history of statistical methods in the administrative and political contexts is one concrete example. Here, Bréard has been able to show how a modern state and the field of statistics were created concurrently. In her research she also demonstrates how China’s scientific culture has been shaped by its own values which derive from the country’s cultural history – and which at first glance do not always concur with the standards of western science. Studies of this kind have earned her recognition not just in mathematics but also in Sinology and the history of science.

As a Humboldt Professor at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), Bréard is set to become the new director of the International Consortium for Research in the Humanities. With her background as a mathematician, science historian, Sinologist and philosopher, Andrea Bréard will introduce new, interdisciplinary perspectives on the history of science and reinforce research into prognostication.

Brief bio

Professor Dr Dr Andrea Bréard was born in Germany where she read mathematics and computer science before studying the history of science in Shanghai, China. She completed her first doctorate in communication science and history in Berlin and a second doctorate in epistemology and the history of science in Paris. After sojourns, amongst others, at the University of Lille and the École Polytechnique, she became a professor at the Université Paris-Saclay in Paris, France, in 2017. She has spent time working on research at City University of New York, United States, and in Germany, for example at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. Andrea Bréard is a member of editorial boards such as that of the International Journal of Divination and Prognostication and the Revue d’histoire des mathématiques, published by the French Mathematical Society. In February 2021 she took up her position as a Humboldt Professor at FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg.


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