Global Transformations in the Life Sciences, 1945–1980, is a welcome response to the recent calls of scholars for postcolonial histories of science and medicine that incorporate non-Western topics and subjects. It is among the first volumes of its kind to provide a broad, intentionally global perspective on the life sciences in the later twentieth century.
The second half of the twentieth century brought extraordinary transformations in knowledge and practice of the life sciences. In an era of decolonization, mass social welfare policies, and the formation of new international institutions such as UNESCO and the WHO, monumental advances were made in both theoretical and practical applications of the life sciences, including the discovery of life’s molecular processes and substantive improvements in global public health and medicine. Combining perspectives from the history of science and world history, this volume examines the impact of major world-historical processes of the postwar period on the evolution of the life sciences. Contributors consider the long-term evolution of scientific practice, research, and innovation across a range of fields and subfields in the life sciences, and in the context of Cold War anxieties and ambitions. Together, they examine how the formation of international organizations and global research programs allowed for transnational exchange and cooperation, but in a period rife with competition and nationalist interests, which influenced dramatic changes in the field as the postcolonial world order unfolded.
This book offers an important intervention by reconciling the history of the life sciences after the Second World War, the history of decolonization and globalization, and the history of the Cold War, illuminating the ways in which the life sciences were in many ways a conversation across boundaries and communities.
Thoroughly researched, tantalizingly diverse, and immanently readable, the individual essays make original contributions on their own and offer a profound statement in aggregate.
Patrick Manning is Andrew W. Mellon Professor Emeritus of World History at the University of Pittsburgh and founding director of the World History Center there. He is the author or coeditor of numerous books, including Global Scientific Practice in an Age of Revolutions, 1750–1850.