China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
The history of science in East Asia has flourished in recent years, with new studies regularly emerging on the development of scientific disciplines in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean contexts. Yet historians such as James Secord, Kapil Raj, Wang Zuoyue and others have increasingly criticized studies that take the nation as their conceptual frame, suggesting new approaches to describe the circulation of scientific knowledge. Knowledge is no longer confined by national boundaries or moving mono-directionally (from West to East). While previous case studies focusing on single scientists (such as Qian Xuesen, Wang Ganchang or Ding Wenjiang) have pointed to their individual mobility in education and research, their hagiographic accounts seldom capture the structural dimensions of knowledge production and circulation shaped by the scientists’ transnational interconnectedness over time.
This panel therefore proposes to explore the emergence of transnationally organized infrastructures of knowledge production in twentieth century, and to identify the roles of structures of academic institutions, state apparatus, and publishing houses, as well as the agency of individual authors and translators. How did expert networks function in a matrix of government agencies, research societies, and academic institutions on the individual and collective level, and how was the mobility of individuals and knowledge limited or strengthened by the actors involved? By asking how these networks shaped local knowledge traditions and how specific forms of knowledge were adapted or rejected in a continuously changing political environment, we hope to contribute to a re-conceptualization of circulation, transfers and flows of knowledge on a global scale.