"CHEMICAL REACTIONS: Chemistry and Global History"

"CHEMICAL REACTIONS: Chemistry and Global History"
International Conference April 10-12, 2014
2014 Cain Conference, Chemical Heritage Foundation, Philadelphia
Call for Papers

Conference Focus
One of the most important developments in the history of science and
technology in recent years has been the recognition that, far from being
an essentially western history, it can best be understood and analyzed
in the broader context of global history. This is not a call to
investigate 'influence' or to compare the 'achievements' of 'the West
and the Rest', but to consider how globally spread interactions and
networks of commercial and cultural exchange both depended on and fed
scientific and technological investigation and development. Such an
approach has proven extremely fruitful in the history of medicine,
natural history (botany, etc.), astronomy, cartography and geography.
Surprisingly, the history of chemistry has yet to be analytically
integrated with global history in a sustained and organized way. This
conference and subsequent edited volume are a first step in that direction.

For the purposes of this conference, the term 'chemistry' should not be
considered in a scientifically narrow, discipline-bound way. Rather, we
are interested to include examinations of knowledge-claims and
practices, wherever they were situated or travelled, that somehow
involved the de- and re-composition of material compounds, irrespective
of whether they were labeled as 'chemistry' by contemporaries.

In order to provide a manageable way into this huge and fascinating
field, the conference will be limited to the seventeenth - twentieth
century and be organized around a small number of topic areas:

* Chemistry and Global Commodities - examples include porcelain,
sugar, oil, rubber (natural and synthetic) and 'recreational drugs'.

* Chemistry and Environment - modifying or sustaining the
environment through chemistry, whether conscious or as an unintended
by-product. Examples range from pest control to 'cradle to cradle'
modes of production and include globally connected topics such as the
Green Revolutions and Bhopal.

* Chemistry and Global Health - from the early-modern circulation
of drugs and pharmaceutical knowledge to recent struggles over patent
rights and distribution of medicines.

* Chemistry and Industry - from the early-modern world of
porcelain manufacture, textile production and dyeing to recent issues
relating to the mining and exploitation of minerals only available in
war-torn areas of Africa, production of computers and cell phones.

* Chemistry and Governance - the role of governments, trading
companies, (professional and amateur) scientific societies and
corporations in managing and directing the production and circulation of
chemically-based productions, methods and knowledge

* Chemistry and Everyday Life - the introduction of new processes
and materials such as glass, cement, synthetic fibers, ersatz foods,
plastics and nano-materials. Subject areas might include topics such as
architecture, clothing and fashion, food and drink.

Running through the entire conference, we hope, will be attention to the
material exchange of chemical techniques of all kinds across different
cultures around the world, whether carried by commodities, books,
concerns about public health, or profit-seeking entrepreneurs.

Submit a Proposal
One-page proposals for individual presentations or round-table
discussions that fall under any of these rubrics or focus on relations
between them are welcome. We hope to include not only historians of
chemistry, but also historians who more generally investigate global
commodities, the environment, global health, industry, governance and
material culture. The deadline for proposal submission is June 1 2013.
Travel support for participants, to defray the cost of transportation
and lodging will be available. The conference will be open (without
cost) to all who are interested.
Proposals should be sent to:

For further information, please contact Carin Berkowitz
[CBerkowitz@chemheritage.org] or Lissa Roberts [l.l.roberts@utwente.nl]

Scientific Committee
Lissa Roberts, University of Twente
James Delbourgo, Rutgers University
Fa-Ti Fan, SUNY Binghamton
Catherine Jackson, University of Notre Dame
Carin Berkowitz, Chemical Heritage Foundation