Mo 25 Jun 2018
Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin
Prisma Ukraïna Workshop

Transnational Conversations: Scientists and the Big Questions of Twentieth-Century History

convened by Olga Linkiewicz (Prisma Ukraïna Visiting Fellow 2018), Katrin Steffen (Nordost-Institut Lüneburg an der Universität Hamburg, IKGN e.V.) and Maciej Górny (T. Manteuffel Institute of History, PAN, DHI Warschau)

Twentieth-century European and American scientists lived and operated within a world of competing ideologies. The challenges of the two world wars and changing regimes promoted political activism and required frequent declarations of one’s views and beliefs. Scholars often served as experts for various national and international bodies and got engaged in social engineering and projects which, in essence, aimed to improve international relations and make a world a better place. At the same time, the ideologies in their various incarnations interfered in these scholars’ lives, making personal experience a part of a broader conversation about identity defined in racial and national terms.

This workshop will explore the confluence of scientific ideas and personal experience to show how scientists addressed the big questions of the twentieth century, such as colonialism, antisemitism, fascism, communism, mass political mobilization, and migration. By doing so, it considers the ways in which the big questions can be integrated into the history of science. The workshop will focus on the exchange of approaches to these questions between entities that we stereotypically call the East and the West. In particular, the workshop seeks to discuss the complex and multidimensional character of the exchange that neither “transfer” nor “circulation of knowledge” can sufficiently explain.


Please register: prisma(at)

Image credits:

1. Delegates of the International Congress of Geographers in Warsaw during an excursion to Grodno. A visit to the archeological site on the terrain of the Old Castle. NAC 1-M-523-1 

2. Kazimierz Stołyhwo - a Polish anthropologist, professor at the Free Polish University in Warsaw and at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow, member of the Polish Academy of Science, during examination of a human skull. NAC 1-N-558

3. Third Convention of Polish Microbiologists in Cracow (Poland), 1930. NAC 1-N-951

4. Convention of natural scientists in Cracow (Poland), May 1936. NAC 1-N-954

5. Third Scientific Convention of Scholars of Pomerania in Poznan (Polan), 1932. NAC 1-N-960