Call for Papers: The Entanglement of East and West in Technology and Natural Sciences inthe 20th Century. Interdisciplinary Workshop. Passau, July 18 – 20, 2008.
Increasingly intensified scientific research in Modern Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries became a global key phenomenon of conceptions of modern life. Old Empires, new nationstates as well as the Soviet Union developed strategies and institutions in competition withone another for the advancement of science and its cultural, economic and political exploitation.
Scientific logic has always contradicted political borders and demands transnational co-operation. In various disciplines, international research standards and competition have remained the leveller. Important scientific developments evolved over the 20th century aswell, across the state borders and ideological camps of a divided Europe. International conferences, journals, associations, awards (Nobel Prize etc.) or competitions (InternationalMathematical Olympiad etc.) created cultural practices of scientific co-operation and constituted sometimes durable social relationships and networks. Yet although in somefields, the friendly exchange of letters, the exchange of know-how, the transfer of technologies or shared projects emerged, in other areas ideological prescriptions narrowed the scientist’s room for manoeuvre.
If it was a case of direct co-operation or implicit plagiarism, new concepts and projects,scientists and the states sponsoring them were always competing with each other. In the competition between states and empires in times of peace, during the Second World War or during the ‘Cold War’ between ‘East’ and ‘West’, (natural) scientific and technical research and projects played a key role. Successes furthered the prestige of states and societal systems. In particular cases, they gave scientists international fame, domestic importance and veneration and, thus, options for political action.
Scientific research was pivotal as well for ‘Western’ as well as for socialist societalconceptions of Modernity, Progress and the Future. Successes not only in space exploration,but in mathematics, too, contradicted western stereotypes of Eastern European backwardness. Rationalism or scientific faith has often been held or perceived in competition with traditional religion. The aesthetics and cult of technology were mediated in Eastern as well as in Western Europe in many ways and achieved far-reaching importance in the various dimensions of modern everyday life.
The workshop aims to bring together specialists from the different fields of disciplinary history (mathematics, physics, astronomy, astro/cosmo-nautics, chemistry, biology, statistics, mechanical engineering, electrotechnics, IT and so on). Of central interest are contributions on issues concerning both ‘East’ and ‘West’, or contextualising Soviet or socialist sciences inan international framework. Especially PhD students and post-docs are invited to propose apaper (in English or German). The deadline for submitting a proposal of max. 1 page is June 10, 2007. A publication of the proceedings is planed.
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