Studying marginalised physical sciences

‘Writing the History’ of the Physical Sciences After 1945: State of the Art, Questions, and Perspectives, Strasbourg, 8-9 June 2007 (2007)
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Abstract
The second half of the twentieth century offers distinct perspectives for the historian of science. The role of the State, the expansion of certain industries and the cultural engagement with science were all transformed. The foregrounding of certain strands of physical science in the public and administrative consciousness – nuclear physics and planetary science, for example – had a complement: the ‘backgrounding’ or institutional neglect of a number of other fields. My work in the history of the physical sciences has focused on this little-noticed intellectual terrain, and could be categorised into several types of case study that share distinct research questions, conceptual understandings and historiographical ramifications. My focus is physical sciences that have been identified as peripheral, if categorised at all, by a previous generation of historians of physics. By this I do not mean peripheral in the geographic sense, but marginal, interstitial or boundary-crossing in the context of occupations, disciplines and professions. The types of case study investigated include (i) scientific instruments; (ii) emergent professions or would-be professions; and, (iii) subject areas falling between academic science, industrial application and State interests.
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JOHSMP-3
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Archival date: 2019-09-06
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