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Globalizing the Soviet Environment: East-West Circulations of Knowledge and Expertise on Nature, 1957-1991

Sun, November 20, 10:00 to 11:45am, Wardman DC Marriott, Lobby Level, Park Tower Suite 8228

Session Submission Type: Panel

Brief Description

During the Cold War, especially after Stalin’s death and the International Geophysical Year (1957-58), academic exchanges between the Soviet Union and the capitalist world gained momentum , thus contributing to promoting global environmental discussions. International institutions (UNESCO, UNEP …) brought together scientists from East, West and South at major conferences (Paris 1968, Stockholm 1972, Nairobi 1977) . They discussed policy measures and models for monitoring resources and hazards on a global scale, giving birth, for instance, to the global climate research. Looking at three cases of ambiguous cooperation-competition around water, soil and earthquakes issues, using archival materials from Armenia and Russia, this panel aims at drawing a more complete picture of the world scientific expertise community during the Cold War. Until recently, the emergence of “Earth system sciences” was mainly focussed on the USA. Reversing the perspective, these panelists will address the transnational dimension of Soviet environmental controversies. Studying from this renewed perspective the history of environmental sciences and policies in the Soviet Union will help understanding their involvement in the so-called “reflexive modernity”, engendering a “risk society” which was conceptualized in the West after the Chernobyl disaster but also fits to the East. Among other questions the existence of transnational epistemic communities inside the East-West scientific competition will be addressed. The panel is proposed by the German-French research team “EcoGlobReg” (2014-2017) that focuses on the Soviet part of the environmental turn at the global and regional levels.

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