Chemical Reactions – Chemistry and Global History

April 10-12, 2014, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, UNITED STATES

Conference Focus

One of the most important developments in the history of science and technology in recent years has been the recognition that, far from being an essentially western history, it can best be understood and analyzed in the broader context of global history. This is not a call to investigate ‘influence’ or to compare the ‘achievements’ of ‘the West and the Rest’, but to consider how globally spread interactions and networks of commercial and cultural exchange both depended on and fed scientific and
technological investigation and development. Such an approach has proven extremely fruitful in the history of medicine, natural history (botany, etc.), astronomy, cartography and geography. Surprisingly, the history of chemistry has yet to be analytically integrated with global history in a sustained and organized way. This conference and subsequent edited volume are a first step in that direction.

For the purposes of this conference, the term ‘chemistry’ should not be considered in a scientifically narrow, discipline-bound way. Rather, we are interested to include examinations of knowledge-claims and practices, wherever they were situated or travelled, that somehow involved the de- and re-composition of material compounds, irrespective of whether they were labeled as ‘chemistry’ by contemporaries.

Posted: September 13, 2013