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Conference: Headwinds Through the Iron Curtain. Fundamental and Applied Sciences in Communist Eastern Europe, Manchester, 22-28 July 2013‏

Headwinds Through the Iron Curtain. Fundamental and Applied Sciences in Communist Eastern Europe, part of the 24th International Congress of History of Science, Technology and Medicine - in Manchester, (Monday 22 - Sunday 28 July 2013). See the Congress web site here:

Scholars interested in contributing to this symposium should contact us with a title and an abstract in English or French of no more than 2500 characters before the 1st of September.

The history of science in the countries of the Eastern bloc between 1945 and 1989 was a field of confrontation between opposing influences. In the early years of communism, the traditional relations with the West have been interrupted and Soviet scientists have become the essential references. Nevertheless, the scientific blockage was suspended by unexpected periods of opening during which certain sciences that had been annihilated (such as sociology, genetics) were restored as academic disciplines, while international networks were reactivated. The timeline of these different waves of influence, specific for each country, is not linear and it does not cover a homogeneous reality. Stalinization, de-Stalinization, national resistance and nationalist movements have influenced the degree of autonomy of science from political power. Moreover, an energetic refusal with respect to the "pure" science led to an active orientation of the research toward the fields of application.

This symposium aims to address the conflicting influences exerted on the various sciences (experimental, social or exact sciences, humanities) in all the countries from the Eastern bloc. In response to the overall theme of the Congress, Knowledge at work, we wish to highlight the areas of applied science. Did they really use the Soviet methods during fieldwork, or just a scientific rhetoric that was accepted by the regime? In the case of agriculture, was there a difference in the reception of influences between the official line of Lysenkoist biology and methods of breeding? How do the social sciences reflect the realities of each country? What was the role of science in deciding the state health politics? Experimentation, application, technologies, and medicine - are they more autonomous than the fundamental research facing ideological and political influences?

We have brought together proposals for the Romanian case and we are waiting for contributions on other Communist countries from Eastern Europe, in order to open a discussion from an international comparative perspective. This symposium will provide the opportunity to create an international network, the aim of which is to develop a collective, comparative approach of the subject.

Dr. Cristiana Oghina-Pavie, Université d'Angers, CERHIO (UMR CNRS 6258) France

Dr. Luciana Marioara Jinga, The Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile, Romania