I am a historian of science currently working as postdoc at the University of Regensburg.

My current research focuses on the materiality of astrophotography in the early-mid 20C. I look at how photographic plates were exposed and transported and the labour involved in turning them into knowledge.

I am also working on a book about the astronomy of Anton Pannekoek and its relations to his Marxist philosophy, based on my dissertation.


PhD History of Science, University of Amsterdam, 2021

MSc History and Philosophy of Science, Utrecht University (cum laude), 2013

BSc Physics and Astronomy, University of Amsterdam, 2011

Other Publications

Public outreach:

Jeroen van Dongen & Chaokang Tai. 2016. “Door de ogen van Anton Pannekoek / Through the Eyes of Anton Pannekoek”. In: Out of the Box: Acht verhalen over onderzoek en erfgoed / Out of the Box: Eight Stories about Research and Heritage, edited by Esther Boeles and Sytze van der Veen, pp 12-16. Amsterdam: Bijzondere Collecties, Universiteit van Amsterdam. https://issuu.com/bijzonderecollectiesuva/docs/out_of_the_box/12

Chaokang Tai. 2016. “De Tweede Gouden Eeuw van de wetenschap”. Quantum Universe. Published on 27 November 2016. url: http://www.quantumuniverse.nl/de-tweede-gouden-eeuw-van-de-wetenschap.

Blog Posts


    Anton Pannekoek: Astronomer Marxist

    This project focuses on the influential Marxist and astronomer Anton Pannekoek, who was one of the theoretical leaders of the international socialist movement and the founder of the Astronomical Institute in Amsterdam that now carries his name. The goal of the project is twofold. First of all, it is to investigate Pannekoek’s contributions to astronomy and situate his research within the developments of astronomy during the first half of the twentieth century. Secondly, it is to recover the intricate connections that existed between the scientific and socialist research of Pannekoek, connections that he himself outwardly denied. I search for these connections by uncovering Pannekoek’s epistemic virtues through a reconstruction of his scholarly persona in both socialism and astronomy. Both his epistemic virtues and his scientific persona were strongly influenced by the philosophical context of Marxism, to which he contributed, and the practical reality of being an astronomer without an observatory in a time when astrophotography, astrophysics, and international collaboration increasingly became commonplace.


    Centres for History of Science:

    Vossius Center for the History of Humanities and Sciences, University of Amsterdam
    Descartes Centre for the History and Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, Utrecht University

    Professional Societies:

    History of Science Society
    Belgian-Dutch Society for the History of Science and University
    British Society for the History of Science
    Nederlandse Astronomenclub (Netherlands Astronomical Society)
    Royal Netherlands Historical Society

    Chaokang Tai

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