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Message posted on 22/11/2019

Call for abstracts- symposium "Acting with Images and Objects"

                Dear colleagues

please see below a call for paper proposals for the upcoming ESHS conference
in Bologna.

Acting with Images and Objects:
The Political Epistemology of Mobile Atomic Exhibitions

Symposium proposal to be submitted to the ESHS 2020 Conference in Bologna

Our starting point is the assumption that scientific knowledge produced
especially after the second half of the 20th century has been situated in a
strongly political context. Politics and diplomacy have been historically
linked not only to new geopolitical orders but also to the emergence of new
structures of knowledge, concepts, scientific practices and actors. These
phenomena are prime candidates for epistemological investigation. This panel
brings front and center a version of political epistemology that explores
scientific images and objects as political instruments, which in turn affect,
as such, scientific practice. The focus is on atomic exhibitions and on their
mobility as an epistemic-cum-political virtue.

Historians of science have recently recognized the power of exhibitions to
engage the public in the production of knowledge (i.e. Kohlstedt 2010; Rader
and Cain, 2014). Exhibitions, however, have the potential to do much more.
They make political statements; they become sites for the visualization of
different social futures (Molella and Knowles, 2019); they represent fertile
spaces for diplomatic negotiations (Rentetzi, forthcoming). Despite the vital
role of exhibitions in the production of knowledge and the formation of
political worldviews, there is hardly any work on the historical role of
atomic mobile exhibitions in shaping nuclear science and politics.
Acting with images and objects is an attempt to highlight the decisive role
of mobility in the postwar period, especially for the international
organizations that were keen to spread images of a common atomic future
worldwide and in so doing to shape local scientific cultures.

We are seeking papers that combine an interest in global and transnational
histories of atomic exhibitions with their epistemic and political cultures.
As we acknowledge the epistemic value of images and objects, we invite
proposals that discuss how mobile atomic exhibitions such as those designed by
the UN and its related organizations or any national attempts to exhibit the
atom such as USs Man and the Atom, and Atoms for Peace, defined nuclear
futures. We are keen to receive proposals that emphasize the role of atomic
exhibitions not only in Europe but in Latin America, Asia, and Africa as

Please send your abstracts (300 words) with a cv (150 words) to Maria Rentetzi
( ) by December
5, 2019.

Cited literature:

Kohlstedt, Sally. "Place and Museum Space: The Smithsonian Institution and the
America West, 1850-1900" in Livingstone, David and Charles Withers (eds)
Geographies of Nineteenth-Century Science, 399-437. Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 2011.
Rader, Karen and Cain, Victoria. Life on Display: Revolutionizing U.S. Museums
of Science and Natural History. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Molella, Arthur and Knowles, Scott Gabriel (eds) World's Fairs in the Cold
War: Science, Technology, and the Culture of Progress. Pittsburgh: University
of Pittsburgh Press. 2019.
Rentetzi, Maria. Nuclear Classroom on Wheels as a Diplomatic Gift: The
IAEAs Mobile Radioisotope Laboratories Centaurus, forthcoming.

Prof. Dr. Maria Rentetzi,
ERC Consolidator Grantee
Technical University Berlin
Faculty I - Humanities
Institute of History and Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Literature
Office 2527
Phone: +49 3031421284
Strae des 17. Juni 135
D - 10623 Berlin

skype name: maria.rentetzi

President of the Gender Commission of DHST (2017-2021)
International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science
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