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Scientific societies and the globalization of science (1930-1990)


Science has become a global enterprise. To produce knowledge, scientists with different nationalities, gender backgrounds, ethnicities and socio-political views engage in debate and adopt shared codes of conduct (e.g. leaving out personal bias when evaluating each other’s work). This project conducts historical research into the mechanisms that structure these global social relations within science by using 20th century scientific societies as its lens. It hypothesizes that these hitherto unstudied societies have played a regulatory role in the globalization of science by acting as ‘gatekeepers’, simultaneously opening up and limiting access to (sub)groups, such as women scholars or scholars from the Global South, by organizing (massive) conferences, selecting speakers, allocating prizes, electing boards etc. Building on studies of gender and ethnicity in science and on sociological analyses of evaluation in science, GLOBAL ACADEMIES innovates the concept of scientific sociability to include unspoken codes of conduct that could establish divisions within scientific groups, allowing the study of societies’ mechanisms of in- and exclusion, of setting (implicit) standards, and their strategies for coping with (political) dissent. The project innovates methodologically by engaging in multi-sited research into scientific societies in the USA, France, India and Brazil, and at the international level, and by using multiple research methods (journal analysis, archival research and oral history), in which present-day scientific societies are involved as stakeholders. The project aims (1) to develop a conceptual toolkit for scholars across the humanities and social sciences to understand scientific societies’ formats, standards and customs in relation to scientists’ group behavior and (2) to set a new historical framework for understanding the role of scientific societies in science, foregrounding issues of gender, ethnicity and geopolitics in an era of decolonization.


Net EU contribution
€ 1 446 500,00
Oude Markt 13
3000 Leuven

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Vlaams Gewest Prov. Vlaams-Brabant Arr. Leuven
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00