Commission on the History of Modern Chemistry: Announcement and Call for Papers

CHMC Symposium at the 23rd International Congress on the History of Science and Technology (Budapest, Hungary, 28 July – 2 August 2009)

Title: Chemistry in the Aftermath of World Wars

Description: War is one of the most significant forms of modern social activity, shaping the modern world in ways both constitutive and destructive. As great modern wars have affected modern politics, economics, geography, and culture, producing often dramatic transformations, so they have also affected science and technology, not least chemistry, which by the beginning of the twentieth century was already systematically integrated into industrial production and innovation, as well as war through the development of modern explosives and propellants. Our concern is not to examine chemistry in modern war as such, however, but to consider chemistry in the aftermath of twentieth-century global conflicts. These together constitute what Niall Ferguson has aptly termed the “war of the world,” which reached its greatest intensity during and immediately after the final years of the First and Second World Wars (ending in 1918 and 1945 respectively).

The contexts of the aftermaths of both world wars present many interesting historical issues in which the history of chemical science and technology plays a significant role. These include postwar changes in chemical methodologies, instrumentation and theories (e.g., quantum chemistry); the role of chemistry in the reshaping of international scientific organizations such as IUPAC or the Solvay conferences, and changes in national chemical institutions (e.g., in Japan after the First World War, or Eastern Europe after the Second World War); the impact of social and cultural factors such as war-related changes in gender roles, or intellectual migrations (e.g., of Jewish refugees) and their impact on shifts in scientific centers; and changes in the chemical industry and in chemical technology (e.g., the rise of chemical engineering, or the impact of postwar technology transfers).

Nominations: Should you wish to nominate a speaker for the symposium, or if you are working on a topic that might be appropriate for a presentation in the symposium, please contact one of the organizers by no later than 15 November 2008 (the final list of speakers is due to the Program Committee by 15 December). We look forward to hearing from you.

Sessions and Speakers: We plan to invite ten speakers, divided into a morning and an afternoon session organized around each postwar era, and including a commentator after each session.

Organizers’ names and emails:

Yasu Furukawa, Nihon University, Japan ([email protected])

Ernst Homburg, University of Maastricht, NL ([email protected] <mailto:[email protected]> )

Jeffrey Johnson, Villanova University, USA ([email protected])

Gabor Pallo, Hungarian Academy of Sciences ([email protected])


Dr. Ernst Homburg SHT-Professor History of Science and Technology Department of History, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Maastricht P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, Netherlands Tel 00-31-43-388 3314/ 3495; Fax 00-31-43-388 4917

E-mail: [email protected]

SHT = Stichting Historie der Techniek: <> Working Party on History of Chemistry: <>