Nationalism and Internationalism in Science, 1880-1939: Four Studies of the Nobel Population

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Elisabeth Crawford's new study departs from the commonly held notion that universalism and internationalism are inherent features of science. Showing how the rise of scientific organizations around the turn of the century had centered on national scientific enterprises, Dr. Crawford argues that scientific activities of the late-nineteenth century were an integral part of the emergence of the nation-state in Europe. Internationalism in science, both in theory and practice, began to hold sway over scientists only when economic relations, transportation and communication facilities began to transgress national boundaries. The founding of the Nobel Prize in 1901 confirmed the internationalization of science. The workings of the Nobel institution rested on an international community of scientists who forwarded candidates for the prizes. Along with the candidates and eventual prizewinners, they constituted the Nobel population, which in the fields of chemistry and physics between 1901 and 1939 numbered over one thousand scientists of greater and lesser renown from twenty-five countries. Dr. Crawford uses this Nobel population for biographical studies that shed new light on national and international science between 1901 and 1939. Her four studies examine critically the following problems: the upsurge of nationalism among scientists of warring nations during and after World War I and its consequences for internationalism in science; the existence of a scientific center and periphery in Central Europe; the elite conception of science in the United States and its role in the success of the national scientific enterprise; and the effective use of the Nobel prizes in an organization whose primary purpose was to further national science. Two introductions provide the necessary background for the studies by discussing research methodology and both national and international science between 1880 and 1914.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...takes a step toward breaking through to the large-scale categories of historical analysis that are commonplace in the mainstream historical community but have been lacking among historians of science." Kathryn M. Olesko, Science

"In none of her studies does Crawford shy from considering developments in scientific theory and experiment, the peculiarities of the Swedish scientific community and the goals of the Nobel prize committees. Such a historical understanding must supplement any quantitative analysis of sociological variables if we are to appreciate how the prizes reflect national and international scientific relations. It is for this reason that her book is such a success." Diana Barkan, Nature

"...departs from the commonly held notion that universalism and internationalism are inherent features of science. Showing how the rise of scientific organizations around the turn of the century centered on national scientific enterprises, Crawford argues that scientific activities of the late nineteenth century were an integral part of the emergence of the nation-state in Europe.

"...much more than a mere history of these prizes. She questions the assumption that science is and always has been universal. Scientific internationalism, science as an activity and a social institution, is often confused with scientific universalism, science as an abstract method for establishing universally valid knowledge....Crawford demonstrates that the similarities between American Nobel laureates and nonwinning candidates outweigh the differences, and she rejects the argument that Nobel Prizes constitute objective measures of social stratification in science." Mark Walker, ISIS

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521524742
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 4/16/2002
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 172
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.39 (d)

Table of Contents

List of figures; List of tables; Acknowledgements; Introduction; Part I. Conceptual and Historiographical Issues: 1. Methods for a social history of scientific development; 2. First the nation: national and international science, 1880–1914; Part II. Critical and Empirical Studies: 3. Internationalism in science as a casualty of World War I; 4. Centre-periphery relations in science: the case of Central Europe; 5. National purpose and international symbols: the Kaiser-Wilhelm Society and the Nobel institution; 6. Nobel laureates as an élite in American science; Bibliographical essay; Index.

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