Social and Human Sciences on Both Sides of the 'Iron Curtain'

Social and Human Sciences on Both Sides of the 'Iron Curtain'

Irina Savelieva (IGITI HSE), Chair; Ivan Boldyrev (Humboldt University); Alexander Dmitriev (IGITI HSE); Olessia Kirtchik (IGITI HSE); Martin Kragh (Uppsala University); Galin Tihanov (Queen Mary, University of London)
Russian Federation
Vom - Bis
30.01.2013 -
Prof. Dr. Irina Savelieva

This international conference is intended to put together research findings on the history of social and human sciences in the capitalist West and the socialist East during the second half of the 20th century. This topic has recently gained considerable attention of historians, sociologists and philosophers of science as indicated by a growing number of conferences and publications in the past couple of years. A concept of “Cold War science”, in particular, has been applied to a variety of cases ranging from post-war economics and cybernetics to psychology and philosophy in different countries. An approach in terms of Cold War science tends to emphasize the importance of strategic objectives (military, intelligence) and of governmental resources in promoting certain analytical tools, in defining research agendas and in changing disciplinary hierarchies. The decisive role of Government and specific ideological contexts seems by now quite convincingly demonstrated. However, we would like to substantiate the straightforward knowledge/power thesis by considering new forms of critique and reflexivity in the social and human sciences which have emerged during the after-war period. Post-structuralism, social studies of science are only few but important examples of this intellectual development. The context of Cold War also contributed to the emergence of new interdisciplinary approaches and cross-disciplinary fields like, for example, area studies on both sides of the Iron Curtain.

We invite scholars from different disciplines (history, sociology, economics, psychology, science studies or philosophy) to contribute papers on the post-war development of different research domains in the West and in the Soviet bloc. Comparative papers are especially, but not exclusively, welcome. We are interested in the social history of institutions, concepts and techniques, as well as of intellectual transfers and exchanges. Since most research in this area is limited to the mid-20th-century, case studies extended to the sixties and the seventies would be of particular interest.

To avoid areal (geographic) or disciplinary segregations, the conference sessions are intended, instead, to be problem-oriented. We propose three main axes of reflection but the list of questions for discussion may of course be extended following your suggestions:

1) How did the context of the Cold War influence, both conceptually and institutionally, the production of knowledge in the social and human sciences? Did this context occasionally create conditions for niches of intellectual autonomy?

2) What were the conditions and effects of knowledge transfers (people, ideas and tools) between Europe and the U.S., or between the West and the Soviet bloc, during and after WWII?

3) What post-war developments in epistemology and methodology of social and human sciences did shape or transform the contemporary “order of disciplines” (epistemic cultures, disciplinary borders and academic hierarchies)?

Abstract (300 words) and a short CV should be sent to Olessia Kirtchik at by January 30, 2013.

Those selected to give presentations at the conference will be contacted in early March 2013.

Program committee:

Irina Savelieva (IGITI HSE), Chair
Ivan Boldyrev (Humboldt University)
Alexander Dmitriev (IGITI HSE)
Olessia Kirtchik (IGITI HSE)
Martin Kragh (Uppsala University)
Galin Tihanov (Queen Mary, University of London)

Contact: Olessia Kirtchik



Olessia Kirtchik

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