Call for papers - "Science Popularization as Cultural Diplomacy: UNESCO (1946-1958)" (HSS Annual Conference)
Submission deadline: February 20th 2020
Session proposal for the HSS Annual Conference, held on October 8th to 11th October 2020 in| New Orleans.
Organizers: Jaume Sastre-Juan, Andrée Bergeron and Agustí Nieto-Galan.
From its creation after World War II, UNESCO became a political battleground in which different visions of science and the world order fought for hegemony. As it is well known, Julian Huxley (1887-1975) and Joseph Needham (1900-1995) were the first General Director and the first Director of the Natural Sciences Division. Their administration stressed the “social implications of science” -through the influence of Bernalist Marxism- and the “periphery principle” in international relations. They also included science popularization in its priorities, but UNESCO’s popularization program would only start once the Cold War increased in intensity and Huxley and Needham’s policies were substituted by the leadership of the physicist Pierre Auger (1899-1993), as new head of the Natural Sciences Division.
The goal of this session is to explore the history of international science popularization policies and practices at UNESCO as tools for governance and cultural diplomacy from the Huxley-Needham administration to the end of Auger’s leadership in 1958. Who were the main actors behind the global science popularization program at UNESCO? What were their political agendas? What were their specific approaches to science, internationalism, diplomacy and popularization? How were UNESCO’s popularization policies actually implemented around the world in different national and local contexts? What was the role of science popularization in the global reconfiguration of international relations? Historiographically, we would like to engage with the literature that has focused on the politics of science popularization, the literature which is reassessing scientific internationalism as a historically and ideologically situated practice and the renovated interest in science and diplomacy. While our main focus is the period 1946-1958, we are flexible in terms of chronology: case-studies exploring the continuities and ruptures with the League of Nations, as well as the 1960s are also welcome.
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