Streaming Media

Location

Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania

Event Website

http://www.library.upenn.edu/exhibits/lectures/scienceinfo_program.html

Start Date

24-2-2017 9:45 AM

End Date

24-2-2017 11:00 AM

Document Type

Presentation

Description

Alex Csiszar, Harvard University

Legislating an International Scientific Polity ca. 1900: Fantasies of Access and Empire

For the many scientists, librarians, and statesmen obsessing over the international organization of scientific literature around 1900, problems of knowledge were quite obviously coterminous with problems of political order. This paper will focus on the political stakes in the fight over organizing international science that pitted allies of the Royal Society of London's plan for an intergovernmental organization (The International Catalogue of Scientific Literature) against a Belgian plan to create a global federation of specialist organizations coordinated in Brussels (the Institut International de Bibliographie). As the management of science came into focus as a problem, and one that might be solved through the management of paper documents, many looked to other domains more practiced in the management of documents, including criminology, business, and statecraft. Indeed, while the Brussels group (and their many French allies) was more likely to wear its political activism on its sleeve, both groups were animated by particular visions of imperial control and of global social coordination. These visions translated not only to distinct plans for building an information infrastructure for science (variously defined), but also to distinct fantasies of access (who, how, and what) to knowledge.

Geert Somsen, Maastricht University

Unscathed Universalism. Scientific Internationalism through the Krieg der Gelehrten

The history of scientific internationalism through World War I, even though it has been studied many times, presents a startling dilemma. On the one hand, it has often been claimed that after August 1914, scientists of the belligerent nations quickly surrendered their belief in internationalist values to an all-out embrace of nationalism. This chauvinism exploded in the manifestoes of the Krieg der Gelehrten, and persisted into the creation of new (and nationally exclusive) international organizations after 1919. On the other hand, it seems that the internationalist rhetoric celebrating the universal and fraternizing nature of science re-emerged, phoenix-style, in the early 1920s, e.g. the work of George Sarton and in the establishment of the League of Nations' Commission Internationale de Coopération Intellectuelle. It was as if the war had never happened and as if the scientists' guerre des manifestes had not taken place. How can we explain the apparent lack of impact of wartime chauvinism? And how do we account for the co-existence of national exclusion and internationalist pontification after 1919? In this paper, I will try to answer these questions by revisiting our understanding of internationalism and postwar disillusionment.

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YouTube recording of Geert Somsen begins at 15:31. Alex Csiszar's session was not recorded.

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Feb 24th, 9:45 AM Feb 24th, 11:00 AM

Session 1: Universal Science

Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania

Alex Csiszar, Harvard University

Legislating an International Scientific Polity ca. 1900: Fantasies of Access and Empire

For the many scientists, librarians, and statesmen obsessing over the international organization of scientific literature around 1900, problems of knowledge were quite obviously coterminous with problems of political order. This paper will focus on the political stakes in the fight over organizing international science that pitted allies of the Royal Society of London's plan for an intergovernmental organization (The International Catalogue of Scientific Literature) against a Belgian plan to create a global federation of specialist organizations coordinated in Brussels (the Institut International de Bibliographie). As the management of science came into focus as a problem, and one that might be solved through the management of paper documents, many looked to other domains more practiced in the management of documents, including criminology, business, and statecraft. Indeed, while the Brussels group (and their many French allies) was more likely to wear its political activism on its sleeve, both groups were animated by particular visions of imperial control and of global social coordination. These visions translated not only to distinct plans for building an information infrastructure for science (variously defined), but also to distinct fantasies of access (who, how, and what) to knowledge.

Geert Somsen, Maastricht University

Unscathed Universalism. Scientific Internationalism through the Krieg der Gelehrten

The history of scientific internationalism through World War I, even though it has been studied many times, presents a startling dilemma. On the one hand, it has often been claimed that after August 1914, scientists of the belligerent nations quickly surrendered their belief in internationalist values to an all-out embrace of nationalism. This chauvinism exploded in the manifestoes of the Krieg der Gelehrten, and persisted into the creation of new (and nationally exclusive) international organizations after 1919. On the other hand, it seems that the internationalist rhetoric celebrating the universal and fraternizing nature of science re-emerged, phoenix-style, in the early 1920s, e.g. the work of George Sarton and in the establishment of the League of Nations' Commission Internationale de Coopération Intellectuelle. It was as if the war had never happened and as if the scientists' guerre des manifestes had not taken place. How can we explain the apparent lack of impact of wartime chauvinism? And how do we account for the co-existence of national exclusion and internationalist pontification after 1919? In this paper, I will try to answer these questions by revisiting our understanding of internationalism and postwar disillusionment.

https://repository.upenn.edu/science_of_information/sessions/session/3