The vast majority of European countries have never had a Newton, Pasteur or Einstein. Therefore a historical analysis of their scientific culture must be more than the search for great luminaries. Studies of the ways science and technology were communicated to the public in countries of the European periphery can provide a valuable insight into the mechanisms of the appropriation of scientific ideas and technological practices across the continent. The contributors to this volume each take as their focus the popularization of science in countries on the margins of Europe, who in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries may be perceived to have had a weak scientific culture. A variety of scientific genres and forums for presenting science in the public sphere are analysed, including botany and women, teaching and popularizing physics and thermodynamics, scientific theatres, national and international exhibitions, botanical and zoological gardens, popular encyclopaedias, popular medicine and astronomy, and genetics in the press. Each topic is situated firmly in its historical and geographical context, with local studies of developments in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Hungary, Denmark, Belgium and Sweden. Popularizing Science and Technology in the European Periphery provides us with a fascinating insight into the history of science in the public sphere and will contribute to a better understanding of the circulation of scientific knowledge.
This absorbing collection of case-studies breaks new ground at many levels. Building on the current resurgence of interest in popularization, it invites us to re-examine some of our most fundamental perceptions of the nature and role of popular science. It pursues the construction of the excitingly enriched vision of scientific Europe that the STEP (Science and Technology in the European Periphery) project has already done so much to establish. Methodologically and for the originality of its insights and the information it assembles, this is a landmark volume. Robert Fox, University of Oxford, UK ’The authors of this collection are to be congratulated not only on their thorough research, but also on highlighting the existence of this great historical heritage. Historians thrive by finding new ways of thinking about old facts, but there are always new facts waiting to be found and explored.’ British Journal for the History of Science ’By uncovering the various strategies of scientific popularization pursued in countries whose social and political histories will be mostly unfamiliar to the majority of British, American, French and German historians of science, Popularizing Science makes an important contribution to our understanding of scientific communication in any country.’ Social History of Medicine