Goethe Uni

Science that Came in from the Cold: Epistemology, Rationality and Cold War Scientific Culture.

Organized by:

Herder-Institute for Historical Research on Eastern Europe – Institute of Leibniz Association, Marburg

Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture, Gießen

Working Group History of Science at the Goethe-University in Frankfurt am Main.

Organizers: Fabian Link (Frankfurt), Jan Surman (Marburg)


In recent years, research on Cold War scientific culture has produced manifold perspectives on the production of knowledge and its dissemination against the backdrop of an antagonistic world order and a nuclear arms race. Most notable is the idea of a particular “Cold War rationality,” which informed intellectuals´ and researchers´ inquiries from the 1950s to the 1970s. In our Studientag we will discuss how this Cold War scientific culture has structured the communication and affected the basic epistemic categories of the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities. Based upon concrete research projects we will look at how the particular atmosphere of the Cold War led scholars to reevaluate the epistemic assumptions, in fields from astronautics to weather modification.


10:00-10:30 Fabian Link, Jan Surman: Introduction

10:30-11:30 Corinne Geering (Gießen): Steel and Chemicals for the Carpenter’s Masterpiece: Renegotiating Authenticity for the Conservation of Wooden Architecture in the Cold War

11:30-12:00 Coffee break

12:00-13:00 Partick Kilian (Zürich): ‘The Weakest Link’: Astronautic Bodies, Space Medicine, and Popular Discourse in Cold War America and Post-War Germany

13:00-14:00 Lunch break

14:00-15:00 Manuel Kaiser (Zürich): ‘Taming the Weather’: Scientific and public weather modification discourse during the Cold War.

15:00-16:00 Benjamin Brendel (Gießen): Dams - Cumulated Constructions of the Cold War

16:00-16:30 Coffee break

16:30-17:30 Simon Ottersbach (Gießen): Radio Free Europe’s Production and (Transatlantic) Circulation of Cold War Knowledge (1950 – 1971)

17:30-18:00 Concluding Discussion


Invited Discussants: Michael D. Gordin (Princeton), Peter Haslinger (Marburg/Gießen), Philipp Sarasin (Zürich)


Due to limited capacity, we kindly as to register in advance via e-mail: jan.surman@herder-institut.de. Only registered participants will have access to precirculated papers.

Freitag, 22.01.2016
Beginn: 10:00
Ende: 18:00
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