Vol. 43, No. 2, April 2014
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Rachel Ankeny has been promoted to Full Professor at the School of History and Politics at the University of Adelaide.
Carlo Artemi‘s (Scientific High School “E. Majorana” Orvieto, Italy) book Per capirci qualcosa di Fisica contemporanea (To Understand Something on Contemporary Physics), has been published in Kindle format at www.amazon.com and is waiting for publication through a traditional press. It’s practically a “trip,” a popularizing book written for non-specialists as an introduction to physics from the basis of classic physics to the latest attempts to build a “theory of everything.”
Harold Burstyn (Syracuse University) completed a three-year term on the Advisory Committee to the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at The Smithsonian Institution last fall. He is about to begin his second (and final) three-year term as a member of the National Conference of Lawyers and Scientists, a joint venture of the American Bar Association and the AAAS. He co-edited the fall issue of The SciTech Lawyer, a publication of the Science and Technology Section of the ABA. The issue’s theme: “Can the Courts Understand Science?”. His review of Stuart Banner, American Property: A History of How, Why, and What We Own (Cambridge, 2011), appeared in the October/November issue of The Federal Lawyer.
Hasok Chang (University of Cambridge) won the Fernando Gil International Prize for his book, Is Water H2O?, published by Springer Verlag in 2012. The announcement of the prize, with a description of his book, can be found at: http://fernando-gil.org.pt/en/nominees/2013/winner/.
Jamie Cohen-Cole (George Washington University) has recently published The Open Mind: Cold War Politics and the Sciences of Human Nature with the University of Chicago Press.
Michael R. Dove (Yale University) recently published The Anthropology of Climate Change: A Historical Reader with Wiley/Blackwell. It places the current debate about climate change in the context of five millennia of human thinking about the relationship between climate and society.
Jim Fleming‘s (Colby College) new book Toxic Airs: Body, Place, Planet in Historical Perspective co-edited with Ann Johnson is now available from the University of Pittsburgh Press.
Chris Graney (Jefferson Community and Technical College) and Vince Heuser have organized a radio program “Science and Catholicism” on WLCR am 1040 out of Louisville, Kentucky which includes stories on the history of science intended for a popular audience.
Luciana Martins‘ (Birkbeck, University of London) new book Photography and Documentary Film in the Making of Modern Brazil (Manchester University Press, 2013) explores what is distinctive about the visual representation of Brazil in an era of modernization, also attending to the significance of the different technical properties of film and photography for the writing of new histories of visual technologies.
Jeff Oaks (University of Indianapolis) was a visiting professor in March at the Ècole des Hautes Ètudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris where he gave several talks on medieval algebra. His book, co-edited with Mahdi Abdeljaouad, Al-Lubāb fī sharḥ Talkhīṣ aʿmāl al-ḥisāb (The Essential Commentary on [Ibn al-Bannāʾ’s] Condensed Book on the Operations of Arithmetic) by ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn ʿAlī ibn Dāwud al-Hawārī al-Miṣrātī was published in Tunis by the Association Tunisienne de Didactique des Mathématiques in 2013. It is a critical edition of an early 14th c. Arabic arithmetic book. An English translation and commentary will be published separately.
Abena Dove Osseo-Asare‘s (University of California, Berkeley) new book, Bitter Roots: The Search for Healing Plants in Africa (University of Chicago Press, 2014), is now available.
Sandra Rebok recently began research at the Huntington Library in California with an EU Marie Curie Grant for the next three years. Her book, Jefferson and Humboldt: A Transatlantic Friendship of the Enlightenment (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2014) will be published in the Spring.
Grace Yen Shen‘s (University of Toronto) new book, Unearthing the Nation: Modern Geology and Nationalism in Republican China (University of Chicago Press, 2014), is now available.
David Spanagel‘s (Worcester Polytechnic Institute) forthcoming book, DeWitt Clinton & Amos Eaton: Geology and Power in Early New York from Johns Hopkins University Press will be available in April.
Hallam Stevens‘ (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore) new book, Life Out of Sequence: A Data-Driven History of Bioinformatics (University of Chicago Press, 2014), is now available.
Jeff Sturchio is now in his third year as Senior Partner at Rabin Martin, a Manhattan-based global health strategy consulting firm. Together with Lou Galambos (Johns Hopkins University), he recently co-edited a collection of essays on Noncommunicable Diseases in the Developing World: Addressing Gaps in Global Policy and Research (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013).
Richard Weikart (California State University, Stanislaus) recently published three essays: “The Role of Darwinism in Nazi Racial Thought,” German Studies Review 36 (2013): 537-556; “Die Rolle der Evolutionsethik in der NS-Propaganda und im weltanschaulichen NS-Unterricht,” in Ideologie und Moral im Nationalsozialismus, eds. Wolfgang Bialas and Lothar Fritze (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2014), pp. 193-207; and “A History of the Impact of Darwinism on Natural Rights and Bioethics,” in Darwinian Science and Classical Liberalism: Biological and Political Theories in Tension?, ed. Steve Dilley (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2013), pp. 197-213.
Michael Pettit, Mark Solovey, and Alexandra Rutherford have recently been awarded a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Connections Grant to hold a working conference entitled “Social Science, Ideology, and Public Policy in the United States, 1960 to the Present” in Toronto next fall. Together with invited scholars from Europe, the United States, and Canada, they will examine how social scientists applied their expertise to prominent issues including poverty, mental health, research ethics, educational reform, gender issues, sexuality, race relations, crime, and economic growth. The workshop will illuminate how American social science became involved in ideological struggles and associated public policy controversies over the last fifty years.
Those of you who follow HSS on Facebook will have seen that the Society recently hired its first ever Director of Media and Social Engagement (aka Empress of Engagement): Jessica Baron https://www.facebook.com/HistoryOfScienceSociety.
Jessica recently completed her PhD in the History and Philosophy of Science Program at the University of Notre Dame with a dissertation on Florence Nightingale’s public health and public works projects in British India (working with Chris Hamlin). She previously served as Managing Editor for the journal Studies in History and Philosophy of Science and is currently sharing her talents with Notre Dame’s Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values.
Her position with HSS is a quarter-time slot (10 hours per week). She will help the Society develop a social media policy, foster public engagement, and generally serve as the master of HSS’s “Twitterverse” and Facebook nation. During the short time she has worked with us, our number of followers on Twitter grew by 70% after her first month and has swelled another 40% over the past two months (a total of 1044 followers as of early March). Our Facebook presence has also increased dramatically and more and more members (and nonmembers) are interacting with the Society. And even though these numbers are gratifying, we still are working on the “so what?” question, i.e. What does it means to have more followers on Twitter and Facebook?, and we are thinking hard about ways to integrate social media into our annual meetings, seeing it as a complementary strategy and not as a substitute for face-to-face contact.
Jessica is deeply interested in science education (she has served on HSS’s Committee on Education and is currently teaching a course on medicine and public health in US history), communication, and gender issues and is also inordinately proud of her knowledge of science-fiction television shows. She hosts the Science Café in South Bend, Indiana and is actively engaged in the community. You can reach her at email@example.com.
The Forum for History of Human Science Announces 2013 Award Winners and Call for 2014 Nominations
The Forum for History of Human Science (FHHS), an HSS interest group, is pleased to announce the winners of its 2013 awards, presented at the HSS meeting in Boston on 23 November 2013. Find further information, all prize citations, etc., athttp://www.fhhs.org.
The 2013 FHHS Article Award went to Erik Linstrum (University of Michigan), for his article “The Politics of Psychology in the British Empire, 1898-1960,” Past and Present 215 (2012): 195-233.
The 2013 FHHS/JHBS John C. Burnham Early Career Award went to Peter Sachs Collopy (University of Pennsylvania) for his submission “Race Relationships: Collegiality and Demarcation in Physical Anthropology.”
FHHS has also issued the following call for submissions for this year’s prizes:
2014 FHHS/JHBS John C. Burnham Early Career Award
The Forum for History of Human Science invites submissions for the FHHS/JHBS John C. Burnham Early Career Award for 2014. This award is intended for scholars, including graduate students, who do not hold a tenured position and are not more than seven years past the Ph.D.
Unpublished manuscripts dealing with any aspect of the history of the human sciences are welcome.
The winning article will be announced at the annual History of Science Society meeting, and can then be submitted to the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences with FHHS endorsement, to undergo the regular review process. When the article is accepted for publication, the publisher of JHBS will announce the award and issue a US $500 honorarium. The manuscript cannot be submitted to any other journal and still qualify for this award.
Please send your manuscript and curriculum vitae (PDF format) by 30 June 2014to Nadine Weidman (firstname.lastname@example.org).
2014 FHHS Dissertation Award
The Forum for History of Human Science invites submissions for the 2014 FHHS Dissertation Award, a prize of US $250 for the best recent doctoral dissertation on some aspect of the history of the human sciences. The competition takes place during even-numbered years. The winner of the prize will be announced at the annual History of Science Society meeting.
Entries are encouraged from authors in any discipline, so long as the work is related to the history of the human sciences, broadly construed. To be eligible, the dissertation must be in English and have been formally filed within the three years previous to the year of the award (2011, 2012, 2013).
Submit the dissertation and curriculum vitae (PDF format) by 30 June 2014 to the FHHS Dropbox. To get access to the Dropbox, email Nadine Weidman (email@example.com).
Historian of Science in the House
On 17 January 2014, Robert Proctor was invited to the White House to celebrate the release of the new U.S. Surgeon General’s report, timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the original 1964 document. Robert was a Senior Scientific Reviewer for the report, which concludes that 21 million people have died from smoking since that first report, and that the tobacco epidemic “was initiated and has been sustained by the aggressive strategies of the tobacco industry, which has deliberately misled the public on the risks of smoking cigarettes.”
Robert’s work is cited over thirty times in the new report, including his conclusion that the cigarette “is not just dangerous but unreasonably dangerous, killing half its long term users.” Robert has also continued to testify as expert witness against the industry in both in the U.S. and in Canada, where questions of “who knew what and when” is often at the center of what the court wants to learn. Robert has also finished a new book (with Gary Cross) titled “Packaged Pleasures: How Technology & Marketing Revolutionized Desire,” to be published by Chicago later this year. A French edition of his Golden Holocaust is scheduled to appear later this spring.
The History of Chemistry Division of the American Chemical Society is pleased to announce Professor Ernst Homburg as the winner of its 2014 HIST award. This international award for contributions to the history of chemistry has been granted since 1956 under sequential sponsorships by the Dexter Chemical Company, the Edelstein Foundation, the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and the History of Chemistry Division.
The event, consisting of a monetary presentation, a plaque, a symposium honoring the work of Professor Homburg, and a lecture by the awardee, will take place on 12 August 2014 at the American Chemical Society’s annual meeting in San Francisco, California. Homburg was born in 1952 in Venlo, The Netherlands. After studying at the Protestant Lyceum, he studied at the Municipal University, Amsterdam, where he received a M.Sc. in chemistry and at the University of Nijmegen where he received a Doctoral degree in History. From 1972 to 1993 he served at various posts in history and technology at the Universities of Amsterdam, Groningen, Nijmegen, and Eindhoven. From 1993 to present he has served as Assistant Professor, then Professor, in the Department of History at the University of Maastricht, The Netherlands.
With his broad background, Dr. Homburg is one of the leaders in the history of modern chemical industry and technology. He has been involved as a co-organizer and writer in two multi-volume book series on the history of European technology in the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as a multitude of other books and papers. He has been president of a number of organizations that have promoted the history of technology and science throughout Europe and other parts of the world. As an influential speaker, Dr. Homburg is known for his conciseness and fresh viewpoints, with an ability to change viewpoints without any display of ego or discourtesy.
HSS Sponsors Panama Canal Session at AHA 2014
Christine Keiner, Rochester Institute of Technology
With the imprimatur of the History of Science Society, several HSS members had the opportunity to present their work at this year’s American Historical Association meeting in Washington, D.C. The session, entitled “The Nature of a Transoceanic Route: One Hundred Years of Panama and its Canal,” examined the history of the iconic waterway in relation to some of the diverse social and ecological landscapes of the Isthmus of Panama. The panelists, a group of junior, mid-level, and senior scholars from disciplinary backgrounds that include history, anthropology, and science and technology studies, focused on the following questions: What happened to the region’s human and non-human communities following the excavation of the canal and the subsequent transoceanic movement of water, ships, and organisms? Moreover, if the “conquest of nature” narrative that still prevails in popular conceptions of the Panama Canal is the hegemonic story of U.S. science and technology vis-à-vis the isthmian environment, what is the counter-story?
In light of the Canal’s centennial anniversary in 2014, the panel examined four interrelated subjects linking cultural practices and ecological zones in Panama with the history of the United States: 1) naturalist exploration and social displacement in Panama in the context of U.S. ecological intervention; 2) the emerging field of tropical biology in the Americas; 3) U.S. leisure travel in the circum-Caribbean; and 4) nuclear and ecological debates in the age of Cold War geopolitics.
As the presentations demonstrated, the Panama Canal is much more than a “big ditch” carved out of the tropics, and the existing U.S.-based literature on the canal must transcend its narrow focus on the construction period. The first panelist,Ashley Carse, an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow in Science, Technology and Society at the University of Virginia, introduced the new “waterworld” of the Panama Canal region that emerged as the waters rose between 1910 and 1914, forming the Canal’s massive Gatun Lake reservoir. Carse provided an anthropologically-thick description of this changing world, where forested valleys became streams, rivers became sluggish swamps, hills became islands, and new ecological nuisances thrived within the hybrid ecosystem. The next speaker, Assistant Professor Megan Raby of the University of Texas at Austin, expanded upon this theme to explore how Barro Colorado Island, in Gatun Lake, became a wildlife sanctuary and destination for American biologists who wanted to study “untouched” rainforest. Ironically, scientists remade the island’s landscape, even as their encounter with Panamanian nature altered their understandings of tropical ecology.
Building on Carse’s and Raby’s work, the third panelist, graduate student Blake Scott of the University of Texas at Austin, showed how changing social and ecological conditions on the Isthmus not only invited U.S. scientists and soldiers, but also leisure travelers. The route of U.S. imperialism through the Caribbean became a route of leisure for affluent tourists. Indeed, all of these interconnected particularities—the new hybrid environment of the Canal, the emergence of tropical biology, and the boom in tourism—depended on the U.S.’s unchecked power in the region. RIT Associate Professor Christine Keiner concluded the panel by providing a glimpse of the decolonization of U.S. influence abroad. In the 1960s the U.S. government spent considerable capital investigating the possibility of replacing the aging canal with a non-lock waterway, but Smithsonian scientists and Panamanian nationalists succeeded in turning the emerging lessons of marine biotic interchange against U.S. foreign policy.
The presenters would like to thank the chair, Pamela Henson of the Smithsonian Institution Archives, for keeping the panel on track and, most importantly, for her years of generous guidance. All of us seek to emphasize unjustly-overlooked factors regarding the contested role of natural science, environmental knowledge, or environmentally-oriented perceptions in the century-long Panama Canal project. To that end, archival research on natural science and scientists on the isthmus, particularly those associated with the Smithsonian Institution—an organization with deep roots in Panama—is crucial. We are very grateful to Pam for facilitating these studies.
We would also like to thank the History of Science Society for sponsoring our session at the AHA, an important venue for expanding the appeal of our sub-discipline. This account is based on the panel’s AHA abstract proposal, which Blake Scott authored and organized.
AHA Session: “Curating the Anthropocene: Debate and Discussion” Discusses the Role of the Anthropocene in Museum Practice
This roundtable discussion aimed to ground the diverse thinking, rhetoric, and arguments regarding the idea of the Anthropocene and how it plays out in museum practice. The session aimed at the question of when something called the Anthropocene began (the agricultural, industial, or green revolutions) and how the idea relates to manipulation of the environment by humans. The session was organized and chaired by James Rodger Fleming (Colby College, Science, Technology, and Society Program) and included presentations by Roger D. Launius (Senior Curator, Division of Space History, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institiution), Nina Möllers (Curator, Deutsches Museum, Munich), and Jennifer Newell (Curator of Pacific Ethnography, American Museum of Natural History). Presentations were followed by a moderated discussion with the audience. Presentation titles and abstracts can be found below:
“Telling the Story of the Anthropocene, or Not, in Major American History Museums”
Roger D. Launius
One would think that the Anthropocene—a term characterizing the influence of human behavior on the Earth—would be a natural topic for historical museums. In contrast to a major effort to tell the story of the Anthropocene at the Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany, no corresponding effort exists among that museum’s closest counterpart, the Smithsonian Institution. Despite some efforts toward studying the Anthropocene, especially a scientific symposium dedicated to the subject at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, the actual collection of artifacts and their display in an exhibition has not yet even been attempted. What might explain this situation? I will offer three possible reasons. First, the idea of the Anthropocene is a term of relatively recent vintage and it takes time to mount an exhibition on the subject. Second, funding for such an exhibition would be difficult to obtain from a myriad of sources both public and private. The need to raise something approaching $10 million for any major exhibition requires considerable commitment and ingenuity in developing and carrying out such an effort. Third, what I call the Enola Gay Effect often hampers efforts to pursue cutting-edge, potentially controversial exhibitions. Anthropogenic climate change is one of the most controversial topics in modern America, and such an exhibition would require addressing this issue head on. It is not even a part of a current exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum, “Looking at Earth,” which by rights should discuss environmental history as contributed to by air- and space-based observation and measurement platforms.
“Nature and Technology in the Anthropocene—Curating a Special Exhibition for the Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany”
The concept of the Anthropocene as geological era and new frame of thinking about humans’ role on Earth holds many opportunities, but it also challenges the way we think about museums and their role in society. Analogous to its calling for interdisciplinary sciences and research, the Anthropocene demands a new understanding of museum types and turfs, calling for a bridging of historically grown boundaries among museums of technology, history, art and natural sciences. On a practical level, curating the Anthropocene means that museum curators, collection managers, educators and designers need to tackle issues and topics on a vastly extended temporal and global scale. New concepts of collecting and exhibiting are needed in an age of globalization and digitalization, some of which are bound to meet with fierce resistance, as they seem to call for a complete reorganization of the museum landscape. The Anthropocene also “fluidifies” the boundaries among past, present and future and problematizes the museum not just as storage of knowledge, but rather as an active producer and negotiator of knowledge in the Anthropocene as an era of the here and now, connected to the geological past and future. Finally, for museums of technology in particular, the Anthropocene opens up the discussion about the presentation of technologies in their full ambivalence—as part of many environmental problems and possible solutions. The contribution to the roundtable discussion focuses on these aspects by presenting the approach and concept chosen for a special exhibition covering 1.200 square meters (ca. 13.000 square feet), opening in October 2014 at the Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany.
“Collections and Communities—Voices from the Climate Changed Pacific”
People across the Pacific have been using YouTube and other social media to ensure their concerns about climate change are heard internationally. While these expressions are ensuring islanders’ perspectives are being noticed, museums have the capacity to bring these voices vividly, and in a cohesive way, to new audiences. This presentation outlines a community-based series of workshops created by the American Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Samoa around the cultural impacts of climate change. These workshops provide a forum for community members in remote Savai’i (Samoa) and in the Pacific diaspora in New York to discuss, document and disseminate responses, thus enabling audiences in places not yet experiencing obvious environmental change an opportunity to make useful connections of imagination.