Call for Papers: Prague ICHST2021 Symposia Proposals

We invite paper proposals under the two panels proposed below for ICHST2021. If enough applications are received we will make multiple three/four paper panels under each proposal. Please submit an abstract of 200 words to Dr Sam Robinson at samrobinsonphd [at] gmail [dot] com by the 15th May 2020.

Proposed Panel #1: They Might Be Giants: Lesser Power and Alternative Channel Efforts in Science Diplomacy

The growing literature on science diplomacy is only now beginning to loosen itself from the grip of hegemony-dominated narratives. This symposium proposes to accelerate that process by examining carefully new accounts that focus not on leading nations dominating most accounts, but on actors from smaller countries, nations in geographical ‘peripheries’ and as well as grassroot organizations and outsiders. By doing so, we hope to discover histories that show science diplomacy not only as a tool for flexing hegemonic muscles and maintaining established order, but also one for subverting hierarchies, asserting independence, and building coalitions among other non-superpower or imperial actors. In doing so, this symposium aims to reconsider the structures and outcomes of science diplomacy, emphasising the agency and influence of those actors commonly considered to be on the receiving end or typically overlooked in the conventional portrayal of science diplomacy activities. It also challenges centre-periphery narratives and proposes other configurations in which science diplomacy can be observed, configurations in which international and non-governmental organizations figure as more central actors.

Proposed Panel #2: They Might Be Giants: Histories of Failed Science Diplomacy Initiatives

The growing literature on science diplomacy has tended to return repeatedly to canonical cases of success: for example, the creation of CERN, the management of IGY 1957-58, or, more recently, the series of Malta conferences. However, the history of science diplomacy also includes important examples of initiatives and the goals behind which went unrealized. Just as discredited or abandoned models or theories have proved highly valuable sites of exploration for historians of science examining the processes and dynamics of knowledge creation, so too can failed initiatives provide opportunities to further understand the nature of science diplomacy.

This symposium aims to examine such historical examples of “failure” and cases of “what might have been”, in order to enrich the historical picture of science diplomacy as well as to better inform today’s science diplomacy advocates and practitioners. 

Update: ‘Asia in Histories of Science Diplomacy’ Conference

In light of current uncertainties and travel restrictions relating to the global spread of COVID-19, we have taken the difficult decision to postpone the ‘Asia in Histories of Science Diplomacy’ conference. We are currently working on alternative arrangements for holding it at a later date and will provide further information once it becomes available.

CfP: Asia in Science Diplomacy

2nd Annual Conference of the DHST Commission on Science, Technology and Diplomacy

co-sponsored by The Pacific Circle

10-12 July 2020 | Beijing, China

The last decade has seen increasing interest in the concept, practice, and history of science diplomacy in international affairs during the modern period. Such discussions and debates have been dominated by ‘Western’ perspectives, tending to focus on the agency, activities, and influence of actors from Europe and North America. Yet, the danger of treating the ‘Euro-American’ context and norms as defaults against which non-Western ones are measured can often implicitly underpin or reinforce problematic value-judgements, as Phalkey and Lam (2016) have argued in relation to the wider history of science, technology, and medicine.

Building on the global focus of the DHST Commission of Science, Technology and Diplomacy’s first conference in 2019, this conference will centre on Asia, emphasising the agency, activities, and influence of Asian actors within both the intra- and inter-regional contexts of what we call today science diplomacy. We wish to address a number of interconnected questions including: what would be gained through looking at Asian history through the lenses of science diplomacy? What actors, processes, regions and activities would these new narratives encompass? Could these reflections lead to re-consider the concept and meanings of science diplomacy? 

In order to address these questions, we invite contributions exploring the entangled histories of science, technology and diplomacy in Asia. We expect contributions to involve or engage with:

  • nationalism, regionalism and/or internationalism in STM
  • official and unofficial/informal diplomatic channels
  • colonialism, imperialism and anti-imperialism, decolonisation, and development
  • alliances, non-alignment, and ‘South-South’ cooperation
  • state and non-state actors (including religious, commercial and industrial actors, international organisations, transnational networks, and party-to-party relations

We invite submission of paper proposals which include:
a title, abstract (300 words maximum), and a short CV (150 words maximum)
to Gordon Barrett (gordon[.]barrett [at]history[.]ox[.]ac[.]uk) by 30 January 2020.

Co-hosted by:
Department of History of Science, Technology and Medicine of Peking University
School of Humanities of the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences

CFP ESHS Bologna 2020

Call for Papers: Diplomacy and Images in Science

(Sponsored by the DHST Commission on Science, Technology and Diplomacy)

Symposium proposal in preparation for the ESHS 2020 bi-annual meeting in Bologna (

Deadline extended to 10 December 2019.

In recent years there has been a significant move towards a better understanding of the visual aspects of public diplomacy in an effort to demonstrate that international negotiations are more than just a “logo-centric practice”(Constantinou, 2018). Given the growing emphasis on the interaction between science, technology and international affairs, there is scope for extending this inquiry on “visual diplomacy” to scientific images and/or images of scientists and diplomats. The critical relevance of scientific images in diplomatic practice has been recently captured by US President Trump’s controversial statements, supported by a crudely assembled weather map, that Alabama lay in the path of Hurricane Dorian, a faux-pax that echoed around the globe. This is just one example of how visualized scientific data can convey messages and meanings in international affairs, especially in connection with global challenges such as climate change (Wormbs, 2013). 

This symposium aims to deepen our understanding of how scientific images and images of scientists, diplomats, and scientific practices shape diplomatic activities in public diplomacy domains and bilateral/multilateral negotiations. In particular, we invite potential contributors to consider images of science meetings with a diplomacy angle; on big science/technology artefacts shaping diplomatic relations (e.g. CERN particle collider; Channel Tunnel), scientific images playing a substantive role in international diplomacy (e.g. climatology, forensic seismology); satirical cartoons/comics referring to international events with a science/technology element. We would like such an exploration to encompass different historical periods in the modern and contemporary eras, looking for instance at the role of cartographic images and botanic illustration in the shaping of colonial and imperial diplomatic practices. The symposium will be divided into sessions covering specific topics with papers of ca. 25 minutes. We ask presenters to start with one image or set of images that will represent the focus of the talk. 

Please send proposals of max 300 words (plus a 150-word CV) to Simone Turchetti ( and Matthew Adamson (


Literature cited:

Costas M. Constantinou, “Visual Diplomacy: Reflections on Diplomatic Spectacle and Cinematic Thinking,” The Hague Journal of Diplomacy 13/4 (2018): 388-409

Nina Wormbs, “Eyes on the Ice: Satellite Remote Sensing and the Narratives of Visualized Data,” in M. Christiansen, A. E. Nilsson, and N. Wormbs, eds., Media and the Politics of Arctic Climate Change: When the Ice Breaks, New York: Palgrave, 2013.

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