A 'truly international' discipline: adverbs, ideals, and scientific hegemony, 1893-1950

Speaker: Michael Barany # STIS, University of Edinburgh

25th Feb 2019

15:30 - 17:00

CMB Staff Room (6th Floor)

My presentation will examine the complex relationship between international institutions and internationalist ideals in science in the first half of the twentieth century, a period marked by two world wars that dramatically reconfigured the political, economic, and ideological conditions of international science. I will focus on the International Congresses of Mathematicians, showing how mathematicians negotiated national hegemony across the period's changing contexts. Using emphatic but ambiguous commitments to be 'truly international', elite mathematicians contested their discipline's past and future while navigating a variety of political, financial, logistical, and other obstacles to international leadership. Loudly stated ideals gave authority and cover to would-be institutional elites who fell short as often as they succeeded, and I shall examine the consequences of these mismatched ideals and institutions for the eventual shape and dynamics of international mathematical cooperation and exchange by mid-century

Michael Barany is Lecturer in the History of Science at STIS at University of Edinburgh