Project: The Scientific Conference: A Social, Cultural, and Political History

Acronym SciConf (Reference Number: H2020-SC6-CULT-COOP-2017-one-stage)
Duration 01/06/2016 - 28/02/2020
Project Topic International scientific conferences are public spaces par excellence. The gathering of scholars from various origins, united by common concerns in the pursuit of knowledge, has often been described as an exemplary form of transnational integration At the same time, the public character of conferences has been questioned, as they can harbor mechanisms of hierarchy, paternalism, division, and nationalism. This contested openness makes conferences perfect foci for studying ideals and practices of public spaces.Conferences have long been a standard feature of scientific life, yet their origins and development have barely been studied. This project launches such an investigation by examining the history of international scientific conferences as public spaces where knowledge is circulated, communities are shaped, and international relations are performed. The historiography will be social, political, and cultural, seeing conferences as unique forms of sociability. We will study four cases, from the late nineteenth century to today, which respectively focus on "setting", "ritual", "geopolitics", and "social stratification".Four PIs will work closely with five Associate Partners, each of whom has a vested interest in conference organization. Besides the academic output of scholarly books and articles (among which a joint monograph), deliverables are a policy paper, several op-eds for conference-attending scientists, an artist's reflection on conference culture, a walking tour past grand conference sites in Paris, and four “Conferences on Conferences”, with professionals and the wider public.
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Call HERA Joint Research Programme “Public Spaces: Culture and Intergration in Europe”

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 Uppsala University Coordinator Sweden
2 Centre Alexandre Koyré Partner France
3 Maastricht University Partner Netherlands
4 Birkbeck, University of London Partner United Kingdom