Article ID: CBB354603462

The Pugwash scientists’ conferences, Cyrus Eaton and the clash of internationalisms, 1954–1961 (2023)


This paper examines the contest between Canadian American industrialist Cyrus Eaton and the Pugwash scientists’ leadership for influence over the early Pugwash scientists’ conferences. Eaton's activism has generally been dismissed in the historical literature as ineffective, naive and too uncritical of the Soviet Union. This paper argues that he was genuinely committed to international peace and security, that Eaton shared with Pugwash scientists a belief in the importance of intellectuals to global unity, and that he worked to bring about greater international peace and understanding through both his personal activism and his own conferences held in the town of Pugwash. Eaton, however, favoured a broader push for peace, which included participation by a wider range of intellectuals and a call for rapprochement with the Soviet Union. These differences between Eaton and the Pugwash scientists, I argue, were more than simply about approach: they represented different internationalist visions and manifested in different conceptualizations for the Pugwash scientists’ conferences. Eaton hoped to incorporate non-scientists and humanism into the conferences, and integrate them into his own broader conference programme at his Thinkers’ Lodge at Pugwash. The scientists, however, wanted to keep their conferences as distinctly scientists’ events, tied to science and its authority.

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Article Charlotte Bigg; Jessica Reinisch; Geert Somsen; Sven Widmalm (2023) The art of gathering: histories of international scientific conferences. British Journal for the History of Science (pp. 423-433). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Casalena, Maria Pia
Reinisch, Jessica
Widmalm, Sven
Somsen, Geert
Mogavero, Valeria
Bigg, Charlotte
British Journal for the History of Science
Physis: Rivista Internazionale di Storia della Scienza
Public Understanding of Science
Scientia Canadensis: Journal of the History of Canadian Science, Technology, and Medicine
Cierre edizioni
American Mathematical Society
Congresses, conferences, and meetings
Science and politics
Science and society
International relations
Travel; exploration
Fields, John Charles
Polo, Marco
Rotblat, Joseph
Russell, Bertrand Arthur William
Sagredo, Agostino
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
20th century
20th century, late
21st century
Republic of Venice (697–1797)
Venice (Italy)
Padua (Italy)
The Nobel Foundation
United Nations relief and rehabilitation administration (UNRRA)

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