The Historiography of Contemporary Science, Technology, and Medicine: Writing Recent Science

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As historians of science increasingly turn to work on recent (post 1945) science, the historiographical and methodological problems associated with the history of contemporary science are debated with growing frequency and urgency.

Bringing together authorities on the history, historiography and methodology of recent and contemporary science, this book reviews the problems facing historians of technology, contemporary science and medicine, and explores new ways forward.

With contributions from key researchers in the field, the text covers topics that will be of ever increasing interest to historians of post-war science, including the difficulties of accessing and using secret archival material, the interactions between archivists, historians and scientists, and the politics of evidence and historical accounts.

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Product Details

Table of Contents

List of illustrations     ix
Notes on contributors     xi
Introduction: what we know, what we do not-and why it matters   Ronald E. Doel   Thomas Soderqvist     1
Where are we now? The challenges of writing recent science     13
Why science writers should forget Carl Sagan and read Thomas Kuhn: on the troubled conscience of a journalist   Keay Davidson     15
The history of now: reflections on being a "contemporary archivist"   Bruce V. Lewenstein     31
Whose history? Ethics, lawsuits, national security, and the writing of contemporary history     43
The politics of commissioned histories (revisited)   David Cantor     45
From behind the fence: threading the Labyrinths of classified historical research   Anne Fitzpatrick     67
On ethics, scientists, and democracy: writing the history of eugenic sterilization   Lene Koch     81
Witness to history: issues in biography and ethics     97
What is the use of writing lives of recent scientists?   Thomas Soderqvist     99
Scholarship as self-knowledge: a case study   Alfred I. Tauber     128
Secrecy, politics, and science: probing the meaning of the Cold War     151
The politics of phosphorus-32: a Cold War fable based onfact   John Krige     153
Secrecy and science revisited: from politics to historical practice and back   Michael Aaron Dennis     172
History detectives: new ways of approaching modern science, technology, and medicine     185
The conflict of memories and documents: dilemmas and pragmatics of oral history   Lillian Hoddeson     187
Reading photographs: photographs as evidence in writing the history of modern science   Ronald E. Doel   Pamela M. Henson     201
New voices: neglected and novel perspectives     237
What we still do not know about South-North technoscientific exchange: North-centrism, scientific diffusion, and the social studies of science   Alexis de Greiff A.   Mauricio Nieto Olarte     239
Witnessing the witnesses: potentials and pitfalls of the witness seminar in the history of twentieth-century medicine   E. M. Tansey     260
"The mutt historian": the perils and opportunities of doing history of science on-line   Arne Hessenbruch     279
Index     299
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