Astronomer and Witch (Rublack)Justyna Wubs-Mrozewicz
This week's microreview: Ulinka Rublack, The Astronomer and the Witch: Johannes Kepler’s Fight for His Mother, (Oxford, 2015). Conflicts happen at all scales, from the local to the global. And, of course, there’s always interplay between scales of conflict. One of our #RetroConflictsInspirations for questions of scale is Rublack’s The Astronomer and the Witch. The book follows the trial of Johannes Kepler’s mother, Katharina, to illuminate how the conflicts of one Württemberg town emerged from continent-wide debates about religion, gender history, knowledge and law, as well as climatic factors.
But it also shows “it is possible…to ask how Katherina herself made choices”. Despite their relationship to many macro-conflicts, the Keplers’ conflicts were contingent on decisions taken and strategies deployed by local participants. One last inspiration comes from its handling of porous borders between areas of skill and knowledge. Like our Hansards, the Keplers repurposed tactics from their social, intellectual, and religious lives to negotiate legal conflicts.