Thematic Approaches to the Study of Science Drift 21, Rm. 005 Organized Session
26 Jul 2019 04:00 PM - 06:00 PM(Europe/Amsterdam)
20190726T1600 20190726T1800 Europe/Amsterdam Being Scientific in the 1970s: Science and Social Responsibility in a Shifting World

Historians of science have explored the many ways in which 1960s radicalism disrupted the discipline of science. More recently, historians have begun to look at the 1970s as its own distinct era of transformation, one characterized as an "age of fracture" and "the great shift," in the words of Daniel Rogers and Bruce Schulman. At this time, movements for racial and gender equality, social justice, and for decolonization evolved, while new patterns of culture, geopolitics, and social activism emerged. The proposed panel will examine the ways in which scientists of Western Europe and the United States both reacted to and participated in the dramatic changes of the 1970s. The three papers reflect a scientific community rooted in social activism by the 1970s. Sarah Bridger analyzes three working scientists who also, through their work, lived out the ideals of racial and gender equality as well as a critique of materialism. Alison Kraft's case study looks at the antinuclear scientists of Pugwash, who adapted their agenda to address Third World development when Cold War détente made their arms control efforts mostly obsolete. Paul Rubinson discusses the eagerness with which U.S. scientists joined the broader human rights movement of the 1970s and in the process solidified the connection between U.S. interests and scientific internationalism. Scientists in the 1970s embraced the concept of social responsibility and through their actions they addressed the changes of the 1970s, efforts that also exposed their work to politicization and backlash that would emerge in the 1980s.

 

Organized by Paul Rubinson

Drift 21, Rm. 005 History of Science Society 2019 meeting@hssonline.org

Historians of science have explored the many ways in which 1960s radicalism disrupted the discipline of science. More recently, historians have begun to look at the 1970s as its own distinct era of transformation, one characterized as an "age of fracture" and "the great shift," in the words of Daniel Rogers and Bruce Schulman. At this time, movements for racial and gender equality, social justice, and for decolonization evolved, while new patterns of culture, geopolitics, and social activism emerged. The proposed panel will examine the ways in which scientists of Western Europe and the United States both reacted to and participated in the dramatic changes of the 1970s. The three papers reflect a scientific community rooted in social activism by the 1970s. Sarah Bridger analyzes three working scientists who also, through their work, lived out the ideals of racial and gender equality as well as a critique of materialism. Alison Kraft's case study looks at the antinuclear scientists of Pugwash, who adapted their agenda to address Third World development when Cold War détente made their arms control efforts mostly obsolete. Paul Rubinson discusses the eagerness with which U.S. scientists joined the broader human rights movement of the 1970s and in the process solidified the connection between U.S. interests and scientific internationalism. Scientists in the 1970s embraced the concept of social responsibility and through their actions they addressed the changes of the 1970s, efforts that also exposed their work to politicization and backlash that would emerge in the 1980s.

 

Organized by Paul Rubinson

Consent Decrees, Public Knowledge, and Empiricist Constructivism: Revisiting Lost Perspectives on Science and Democracy in the Global 1970sView Abstract
Organized Session 04:00 PM - 04:30 PM (Europe/Amsterdam) 2019/07/26 14:00:00 UTC - 2019/07/26 14:30:00 UTC
In the mid-1970s, the Black Panther biochemist Curtis Powell pledged to publish his research only in African journals, in order to force western acknowledgment of African science. Five years before the publication of Bruno Latour’s Laboratory Life (1979), Powell was drawing on a precise understanding of how cycles of credit and credibility operated in the production of scientific knowledge. Unlike Latour, however, Powell’s epistemological analysis was deeply grounded both in his commitment to black radical politics and his faith in empirical research. Back in the United States, Indian-born chemist Sheila Rajender’s class action lawsuit against the University of Minnesota secured a historic consent decree requiring oversight of university hiring. Her case exemplified a key moment of anti-essentialist federal intervention for women in science. But the promise of Rajender’s approach was short-lived, as the election of Ronald Reagan and subsequent elevation of Clarence Thomas as the new head of the EEOC quickly made clear. Across the Atlantic in England, the biologist Cesar Milstein, pioneer of hybridoma research, warned against intellectual property regimes that would turn basic research into a “profit-seeking enterprise.” He shared his work widely, even with competitors who promptly sought their own patents and profits. Milstein’s views thus stood in stark contrast to both Margaret Thatcher’s nationalist science priorities and the emerging biotech industry in the United States. All three of these figures embraced alternative visions of the democratization of science; recovering their lost perspectives yields insights into the politics of 1970s science and the controversies of today.
Presenters
SB
Sarah Bridger
California Polytechnic State University
"Development" and Disarmament: The Twin Track of Pugwash in the Early 1970sView Abstract
Organized Session 04:30 PM - 05:00 PM (Europe/Amsterdam) 2019/07/26 14:30:00 UTC - 2019/07/26 15:00:00 UTC
Arising from the 1955 Russell-Einstein Manifesto, the Pugwash Conferences brought elite scientists together across ideological divides to confront the dangers posed by nuclear weapons. Powered by ideas about scientific social responsibility and claiming political neutrality, Pugwash developed an approach to disarmament based on the shared language and methods of science. Meeting annually from 1957, Pugwash facilitated east-west communication and rapidly developed as a forum for Track II diplomacy. The object of official suspicion on both sides of the bloc divide, Pugwash nevertheless established a global reach and carved out a distinctive niche within the Cold War nuclear nexus. Its work towards nuclear disarmament was recognised with the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize. By the 1970s, the changing geopolitical dynamics and increasingly global character of the Cold War presented profound challenges for Pugwash leaders. The onset of détente and arms limitation treaties, while welcomed by Pugwash, simultaneously served to weaken it. This paradox created new challenges: the changing array of global threats to peace meant Pugwash had to adapt to remain relevant to state actors. Important here was a deepening engagement with the North-South divide and the problems of the ‘developing world’, although Pugwash remained vigilant to the nuclear threat, including within this region. This paper explores this transition from two analytical perspectives: focusing on the narratives of senior Pugwash figures it assesses its effects within the organization. Using India as a case study, it examines the political conflicts encountered by Pugwash in its work in the Global South in the 1970s.
Presenters
AK
Alison Kraft
Freelance Writer
Mistress of the Sciences, Asylum of Liberty: Science, Human Rights, and Freedom from the 1790s to the 1970sView Abstract
Organized Session 05:00 PM - 05:30 PM (Europe/Amsterdam) 2019/07/26 15:00:00 UTC - 2019/07/26 15:30:00 UTC
In 1794, several persecuted scientists, most notably the chemist Joseph Priestley, fled England for asylum in the United States. Americans celebrated Priestley’s arrival as a victory for science, human rights, and freedom, while their leaders hoped refugee scientists would enhance national science and security. Thomas Jefferson, seeing science as crucial to international prestige and imperial ambitions, used Priestley’s presence to define American conceptions of freedom and human rights as fundamental to the scientific discipline. By declaring the United States the best, freest place to practice science, Jefferson began to realign the internationalism of science according to U.S. interests, ideology and national development. In the 1970s, U.S. scientists again rallied to protect human rights, endeavoring to rescue Soviet scientists from persecution, in particular the physicist Andrei Sakharov. The rhetoric of human rights that U.S. scientists used to support Sakharov was almost identical to the language used in support of Priestley two hundred years earlier. Science was again deemed impossible without the U.S. conceptions of freedom and human rights, and the United States again posited as the ideal place to practice science. By this point, however, the United States had become the scientific juggernaut envisioned by Jefferson, with U.S. institutions producing hundreds of Nobel Prize winners. This paper examines the long interaction of U.S. scientists with human rights movements and the political, scientific, and ideological consequences of turning the United States into what Jeremy Belknap in 1780 called “the Mistress of the Sciences, as well as the Asylum of Liberty.”
Presenters Paul Rubinson
Bridgewater State University
Commentary: Being Scientific in the 1970s: Science and Social Responsibility in a Shifting WorldView Abstract
Organized Session 05:30 PM - 06:00 PM (Europe/Amsterdam) 2019/07/26 15:30:00 UTC - 2019/07/26 16:00:00 UTC
California Polytechnic State University
Freelance writer
Bridgewater State University
 Jamie Cohen-Cole
George Washington University
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