30 April 2021 — 12:00 noon — online
Peter Worger (UT History Department)
“Eugenics, Organizational Psychology, and Industrialization in the Soviet Initiatives of V. M. Bekhterev”
Peter will start by presenting a general overview of the development of eugenics in Russia, starting with the publication of Vasillii Florinskii’s Human Perfection and Degeneration in 1865. Then, he will present his research on proposals to implement selection and removal of children exhibiting signs of moral or physical defects and degeneration in the development of boarding schools under the Bolsheviks, and the proposed rehabilitation of these children in agricultural collectives on the basis of the supposedly regenerative effects of manual labor and fresh air, later to become known as “physical culture.” He will then discuss the influence of physical anthropology and eugenics on the development of aptitude tests to assess the hereditary talents of workers for a conference on the Scientific Organization of Labor in 1921.
Peter Worger is a fifth-year doctoral student in the UT History Department. His research on the history of eugenics and sexual education in the early Soviet Union has received support from the Fulbright-Hays Program and the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies.
26 March 2021 — 12:00 noon — online
Johnny Miri (independent scholar)
“Vannevar Bush and Cold War Science Policy”
Vannevar Bush is best remembered for his leadership of American military research during World War II, overseeing the creation of such formidable technologies as the atomic fission bomb, radar, and the proximity fuse. In the closing stages of the war, Bush prepared the groundbreaking report Science: The Endless Frontier, outlining his vision for America’s postwar scientific organization. Yet in the years immediately following Allied victory, Bush experienced a rapid fall from power, leaving government service entirely in 1948. In this talk, I will examine the various factors that led to Bush’s decline, specifically his loss of powerful allies, political missteps, and feuds with the military. The story of Bush’s fall provides a backdrop for a careful consideration of the postwar trend of institutionalization of American science policy. I argue that this shift was more gradual than previously assumed, and that postwar institutions were shaped by the personal networks that preceded them. Finally, I discuss some of the broader implications of Bush’s fall, especially the rise of military patronage of American science.
Johnny Miri is an independent scholar living in Austin, whose interest in the field began at the Lone Star History of Science Group. His research focuses on the history of American science in the mid-20th century, particularly the interim years between World War II and the Cold War. His first scholarly article is forthcoming in the September 2021 issue of Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences.
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