(F06)
Making science and diplomacy: historical and contemporary entanglements
Location Marcus Merriman Lecture Theatre (Bowland North)
Date and Start Time 26 Jul, 2018 at 09:00
Sessions 1

Convenors

  • Paula Urze (Universidade Nova de Lisboa) email
  • Luísa Veloso (ISCTE - Instituto Universitário de Lisboa) email
  • Maria Paula Diogo (Universidade Nova de Lisboa) email

Mail All Convenors

Short abstract

The session welcomes papers that contribute to the understanding of the forms of relationship between science and diplomacy. Considering that academia and business activities are increasingly transnational, new and renewed forms of governance are required where diplomacy plays a major role.

Long abstract

In this session, we aim at discussing science, technology and diplomacy entanglements. In recent years, increasing attention has been paid by both specialists in science and technology studies and in international relations to the relationships between science, technology and diplomacy, especially after the Cold War. A renewed attention in science diplomacy (SD), together with the well-known perception that S&T are strategic assets for diplomacy is opening a new scientific and political lane through which scientists and politicians are re-establishing a formal and informal dialogue outside their boundaries, including lay people. Considering that academia and business activities are increasingly international and transnational, new and renewed forms of governance are required where diplomacy plays a major role.

SD, and its impacts on scientific, economic and political markets, are widely acknowledged among policymakers and stakeholders as an important endeavour.The role played by international and transnational institutions are topics of outstanding importance to be attended, thus launching a dialogue among a multi-layered set of actors, different intuitional levels and political scales in the international arena.

Moreover, international dialogue and foreign policies, in which diverse stakeholders including scientists, politicians and lay people are given a voice in the development of new models of governance. The debate enlarges perspectives on how scientists, politicians and lay people meet and discuss knowledge and technology.

The session welcomes theoretical, methodological and empirical papers that promote a critical perspective both formal and informal strategies in past and present times on the forms of relationship between science, technology and diplomacy.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

A beacon for science? The soft power of regional research museums in a post-fact era

Author: Holly Alexa Hasted (UiT The Arctic University of Norway) email
Mail All Authors

Short abstract

By situating Tromsø University Museum (TMU) within North Norwegian and circumpolar contexts, and exploring its role in the production and dissemination of scientific research, I argue that TMU reinforces Norwegian soft power in the Arctic.

Long abstract

Using Tromsø University Museum (TMU) as a case study, this paper explores new ways in which academic museums can be imagined as soft power institutions. Soft power institutions have the capacity to shape the preferences of others through appeal and attraction, and function as a tool in the field of public diplomacy. The literature on museums and soft power locates museums primarily within national and municipal settings, focusing on exhibitions and urban development respectively. By situating TMU within North Norwegian and circumpolar contexts, and exploring its role in the production and dissemination of scientific research, I argue that TMU reinforces Norwegian soft power in the Arctic, a multilateral region of considerable institutional thickness. Drawing on thirty-five semi-structured interviews with researchers, technicians, administrators and communication officers, I explore the everyday geopolitics, intellectual creativity and public entanglements involved in 'doing science', and demonstrate how these practices invigorate the institutional soft power of academic museums. I suggest that soft power can be used as a conceptual tool for museums conducting scientific research to re-think and re-define their relevance in a regional world and increasingly post-fact era.

Politics by other means? Czech chemical industrial R&D institutes before and after 1989

Authors: Hana Dankova (Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences) email
Nina Fárová (Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences) email
Mail All Authors

Short abstract

The paper contributes to STS scholarship on the position and role of science and technology during and after the Cold War with an archival analysis of Czech chemical industrial R&D institutes which played a distinct political role in international relations both before and after 1989.

Long abstract

Times of open ideological contestations offer an outstanding opportunity for studying the relations between official politics and other areas of social life, including science and technology. The Cold War and its demise have proven to be a rich resource for such explorations (Balázs, Faulkner, Schimank 1995, Bauer, Vuković, Dányi, Fabók and Tchakalov 2014). Our paper contributes to this line of research by offering a preliminary analysis of archival material from Czech chemical industrial R&D research institutes. Having a distinct status from universities and academic research, industrial research institutes and departments were part of complex geopolitical relations of both the Cold War and the transformation period starting after its end. As part of industrial facilities, the R&D institutes were established to primarily serve the needs of the given facility, transform existing knowledge into usable technologies but also to play a role in international business relations. After 1989, the institutes and departments were either abolished or forced to transform into (semi)entrepreneurial units (Couderc 1996) and engage in complex relations stemming from the need to enter into new types of competition. This fact alone represents a distinct example of using science in diplomacy as the disbanding of R&D institutes was framed as a nodding to the claims of the obsolete state of local industries. We will highlight the political aspect of the functioning of these institutes, which may easily be identified in the pre-1989 period but is equally present after 1989 as our analysis will show.

The global supercomputer race: geopolitics and the discourse of competitiveness

Author: Nil Uzun (Rutgers University) email
Mail All Authors

Short abstract

This paper investigates the global race for the fastest supercomputers and how governments employ and operationalize a rhetoric of competitiveness. Analyzing official communications, I outline the discursive space of supercomputing policies and show how this translates into the scientific field.

Long abstract

Supercomputers, computers that outperform the storage capacity and processing speed of desktop computers by multiple orders of magnitude, have become a key technology in an emerging, increasingly data-driven world, especially with their role in large-scale data analytics, often referred to as 'big data'. As the main actors in the algorithmic analysis of large-scale datasets and simulation, supercomputers also have symbolic power in the global arena where they signify economic and military dominance. Due to the possibilities they offer for the future in terms of 'scientific progress' and 'geopolitical competitive advantage', supercomputers are presented as technological developments of national (security) interest, and often guarded through control over markets and export restrictions.

In 1993 researchers from the U.S. and Germany started to organize Top500, a list of the worlds' fastest 500 supercomputers and the national institutions hosting them. Governments have been investing hundreds of millions of dollars in supercomputing, while the rhetoric of 'global competitiveness' has become the dominant discourse of science and technology policies for high performance computing technologies.

By observing this global race for the fastest supercomputers, particularly focusing on the "EuroHPC" initiative from the European Union, and the U.S. "National Strategic Computing Initiative", my paper investigates the ways in which governments employ and operationalize this rhetoric of competitiveness. Employing discourse analysis to official communications, I map out the discursive space of supercomputing policies and show how this extends to the scientific field.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.