Universities in the Periphery

Coordinated by Kostas Gavroglu, Agustí Nieto Galan and Ana Simões

Members: Kostas Gavroglu, Agustí Nieto Galan, Ana Simões, ....


• Universities have been a characteristically European institution. Amazingly adaptable to changing social and political conditions, they played a significant role in almost all the philosophical, religious and scientific controversies that shaped Western culture. Furthermore, they played a decisive role in shaping the profile of many professions.

• Aspects of the history of Universities have been, also, discussed within the framework of history of science. The history of particular Chairs, of laboratories, of seminars, of research groups, of university museums and observatories, of anatomical theatres, and, of course, the biographies of many professors and some assistants, have been the subject of valuable scholarship produced by a number of historians of science.

• As in other such subjects, most of the work produced is related to the universities of the “centre” and, in fact, work about the elite institutions, among the many universities of the “centre”, is even more pronounced. At the same time, there are many works about the universities in the “periphery”, but in their great majority they are written in local languages and, with very few exceptions, they do not transcend a rather linear narrative of institutional history and biographies.

• Universities in the “periphery” are, perhaps, an ideal site to test the possibilities provided by the problematique developed during the STEP meetings whereby the dominant historiographical schema that ideas and practices (as well as institutions) are transmitted by the centre to the periphery has been undermined by our discussions concerning appropriation, the active role of the receiving culture, the relative autonomy of various localities, the ideological and political agendas of many individuals who return to the periphery, the development of idiosyncratic discourses etc, etc.

• In the last decades, the history of scientific education has undergone profound changes and many researchers have recently highlighted the need to overcome the old institutional history of scientific education, -- too often full of fruitless erudition and quantitative data--, to develop a new history that confronts teachers’ hidden intentions and values, as well as students’ reactions. It approaches a "material culture of the school": the reconstruction of communication practices in the classroom. Beyond the study of official programmes and standard textbooks, now students’ notebooks, examination sheets, and laboratory notebooks are being used as the new primary sources for a new history of education. This theoretical framework can be very useful when applied to University settings, in particular to those peripheral institution lacking great luminaries and top research.

• The proposed group aims at discussing the historiographical framework for the study of the history of universities from the point of view of history of science and, also, present a number of case studies from the Universities of various places in the periphery giving specific attention to the teaching and research activities of 19th-20th centuries Science Faculties, and using eventually the historiographical framework provided by the notion of “Research School”. Other possible issues to be discussed are: the role of the universities in the formation of the elites as well as intellectuals, the establishment and legitimation of a number of (academic) branches, their role in the shaping of the dominant ideology, their role in educational reforms, their role in providing social services (eg., university hospitals), the manifold roles of research schools, the role of university scientific education as seen through new historical sources – students’ notebook etc.; the multiple relations of universities in the peripheries andother parallel institutions (such as state laboratories) used by political power to push forward a scientific and technological agenda, etc.
Though there is not much bibliography about historiographical issues related to the history of the Universities, there are many case studies. Characteristic examples are:

ABIR-AM, P. G., ‘Women in Research Schools: Approaching an Analytical Lacuna in the History of Chemistry and Allied Sciences’, in Chemical Sciences in the Modern World (ed. S. Mauskopf), Philadelphia, 1993, 375-391, 376.
BROOKE, J. H., ‘Methods and Methodology in the Department of Organic Chemistry’, Ambix (1987), 34, 147-155.
CARNEIRO, A. and N. Pigeard, ‘Alsatian chemists in the nineteenth century. A network or a school?’, Annals of Science (1997), 54, 533-546.
CRAWFORD, E., Nationalism and Internationalism in Science, 1880-1930, Cambridge, 1992; Science and Technology in a Developing World (ed. T. Shinn et al.), Dortdrecht, 1997.
FRUTON, J. S., Contrasts in Scientific Style: Research Groups in the Chemical and Biochemical Sciences, Philadelphia, 1990;
GEISON, G. L., ‘Scientific Change, Emerging Specialties and Research Schools’, History of Science (1981), 10, 20-40, 23.
GEISON, G. L.; HOLMES, F. L. (eds.) Research Schools. Historical Reapprisals. Osiris. Second series (1993), 8.
KLOSTERMAN, L. J., ‘A research school of chemistry in the nineteenth century: Jean Baptiste Dumas and his research students’, Annals of Science (1985), 42, 1-80;
MORRELL, J., ‘The Chemist Breeders: The Research Schools of Liebig and Thomson’, Ambix (1972), 19, 1-46.
NIETO GALAN, Agustí, “Free radicals in the European periphery. 'Translating' organic chemistry from Zurich to Barcelona in the early twentieth century", The British Journal for the History of Science, 37, 2004, 167-191.
NIETO-GALAN, A., ‘Seeking an Identity for Chemistry in Spain: Medicine, Industry, University, the Liberal State and the new 'Professionals'‘, in The Making of the Chemist (eds. D. Knight and H. Kragh), Cambridge, 1998, 177-190
NIETO-GALAN, Agustí, «Enric Moles i Ormella (1883-1953): La importació d'una nova disciplina, la química-física» in A. ROCA-ROSELL, J.M. CAMARASSA (eds), Ciència i Tècnica a l'època contemporània als Països Catalans: Una aproximació biogràfica (vol.2), Barcelona, Fundació Catalana per a la Recerca, 1995, p. 1147-1176.
NYE, M. J., ‘Chemical Explanation and Physical Dynamics: Two Research Schools at the First Solvay Chemistry Conferences’, Annals of Science (1990), 46, 461-480;
NYE, M. J., ‘National Styles? French and English Chemistry in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries’, in Geison and Holmes, 30-52.
NYE, M. J., From chemical philosophy to theoretical chemistry. Dynamics of matter and dynamics of disciplines, 1800-1950, Berkeley, 1993, 18.
OLESKO, K. M., ‘Tacit Knowledge and School Formation’, in Geison and Holmes, 16-29.
SÁNCHEZ-RON, J. M. and A. Roca-Rosell, ‘Spain's First School of Physics: Blas Cabrera's Laboratorio de Investigaciones Físicas’, in Research Schools. Historical Reapprisals. Osiris. Second series (1993), 8, (ed. G. L. Geison. and F. L. Holmes), 127-155.
SANTESMASES, M. J. and E. Muñoz, ‘The Scientific Periphery in Spain: The Establishment of a Biomedical Discipline at the Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas’, Minerva (1997), 35, 27-45;
SANTESMASES, M. J., 'From Intestine Transport to Enzymatic Regulation: The Works of the Spanish Biochemist Alberto Sols (1917-1989)', Studies in the History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences (2000), 31(2), 287-313.
SECORD, J.A.., ‘The Geological survey of Great Britain, a Research School (1839-1855)’, History of Science (1986), 24, 223-275;
SERVOS, J.W., ‘Research Schools and their Histories’, in Geison and Holmes, 3-15
WALKER, Mark (ed.) Science and Ideology. A Comparative History. Routledge. London 2003.

Projects: .....


* Organization of the meeting History of European Universities. Challenges and transformations, 18-20 April 2011, University of Lisbon. Joint organization of the University of Lisbon and Centennial and International Commission for the History of Universities (ICHU)
For further information see http://centenario.ul.pt/conferencias/history-of-european-universities

* Ana Simões, Ana Carneiro, Maria Paula Diogo, Luís Miguel Carolino, “Um lugar que seja seu: a Faculdade de Ciências de Lisboa e a profissionalização das ciências”, Congresso Luso-Brasileiro de História das Ciências, Coimbra, 26-29 Outubro 2011.

* Ana Carneiro, Ana Simões, Maria Paula Diogo, Luís Miguel Carolino, “De l’Ecole Polytechnique de Lisbonne à la Faculté des Sciences: principes fondateurs, enjeux de pouvoir, continuité et démarcation,” Congrés Les Universités au risque de l’histoire. Principes, configurations et modèles XIXème - XXème siècles, Nancy, Oct 2011

* Ana Simões, Ana Carneiro, Maria Paula Diogo, Luís Miguel Carolino, “A matter of identity. Scientific research and the Journal of the Faculty of Sciences of Lisbon”, Meeting History of European Universities. Challenges and Transformations, Lisbon, 18-20 April 2011.

* Ana Simões, Comparative studies in the European Periphery. International Workshop for the Historiography of Science in the European Periphery. Work in progress. Atenas, Grécia, 10-12 February 2011.


* Ana Simões, ed., Novas Memórias de Professores Cientistas (Lisboa: FCUL, 2011)

* Ana Simões, “O ano 1947 e o Laboratório de Física da Faculdade de Ciências de Lisboa,” Gazeta de Física 34 (2) (2011), 16-21.

* José Eduardo Franco, Ana Simões, “Universidade. Uma utopia revisitada” Introdução ao Dossiê temático. Centenário da Universidade de Lisboa, Letras ComVida 3 (2011), 19-22.

* Fernando Catarino, Ana Simões, “Flávio Resende (1907-1967)”, Letras ComVida 3 (2011), 55-7.

* Ana Simões, Ana Carneiro, Maria Paula Diogo, Luís Miguel Carolino, “Da Escola Politécnica e da Faculdade de Ciências de Lisboa. Construções identitárias e culturas científicas” in Sérgio Campos de Matos, Jorge Ramos do Ó, eds., A Universidade de Lisboa (1834-2003) - da Revolução liberal à actualidade (forthcoming 2012)