30 de abril de 2021

CfP: "Science Popularization as Cultural Diplomacy: UNESCO (1946-1958)"

Organised by the Institut d’Història de la Ciència (IHC), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, and the Centre Alexandre Koyré (CAK), CNRS-EHESS-MNHN, Paris.

This is a call for participation to an international on-line workshop exploring the role of science popularization as cultural diplomacy at UNESCO.

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 the workshop 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, the workshop engages 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.

Papers dealing with science popularization as cultural diplomacy in other periods-contexts will be considered if they can dialog in productive ways with the main focus on UNESCO.


We ask for contributions in the form of a 20 minutes presentation in a webinar format. 


The workshop will take place online on 13-14 December 2021. If circumstances allow, it might be later followed by an in-person event in Barcelona/Paris for the preparation of an eventual collective publication.


Interested persons are asked to submit a title and abstract (approximately 200 words) to Jaume Sastre-Juan, Andrée Bergeron and Agustí Nieto-Galan by 15 June 2021.