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Space and the Cold War: Imperial Science Redux? HI269 Week 11.

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Presentation on theme: "Space and the Cold War: Imperial Science Redux? HI269 Week 11."— Presentation transcript:

1 Space and the Cold War: Imperial Science Redux? HI269 Week 11

2 Key Questions How did humanity’s first embodied encounter with space affect both national and global identity? What did this ‘Big Science’ represent, and to whom? Why did this particular scientific and technological endeavour have such great resonance? And was it historically unique?

3 Recap: Key characteristics of imperial science and medicine Aimed at creating and reinforcing hegemony, cultural, political and social Scientific and technological development seen as an emblem of cultural superiority Used as a source of political authority and social control, legitimation State-oriented, state-dependent, expressive of imperialist ideologies Close links with military establishment Based on and directed towards universalising claims Often enclavist, privileging ‘us’ over ‘them’ Often a strong component of population control

4 Knowledge is (still) power… “The backward are beaten. But we do not wish to be beaten! No, we do not! The history of Old Russia consisted of being constantly being beaten for her backwardness. The Mongol Khans beat her. The Turkish beat her. The Swedish feudalists beat her. The Polish-Lithuanian nobles beat her. The Anglo- French capitalists beat her. Everyone beat her – for her backwardness.” Stalin, speaking in support of the USSR’s Five Year Plan of 1931

5 Technocrats, the ‘Wizard War’ and the rise of the imperial(?) ‘Superpower’ Mittelwerk, Werner Von Braun’s V1 and V2 Factory and its enslaved workforce, c

6 Reaping the whirlwind ‘We despise the French; we are mortally afraid of the Soviets; we do not believe the British can afford us; so that leaves the Americans.’ Member of the German Rocket Team ‘This is absolutely intolerable. We defeated the Nazi armies; we occupied Berlin and Peenemunde, but the Americans got the rocket engineers. What could be more revolting and inexcusable?’ Stalin

7 Launching the Space Race stm stm

8 Responses to Sputnik

9 Lyndon B Johnson, October 4, 1957

10 Responses to Sputnik “ Just as unpreparedness exploded national myths of military invincibility on a Sunday morning in 1941, the beep-beep-beep of the world’s first man-made moon with its smug Kremlin trademark, has jarred the United States and her allies into recognizing the scientific coming of age of Russia … This new awareness, which may prove a national boon, has caused a public questioning into the reasons for Red leadership in touching off the scientific revolution…” Dick Turpin, ‘Educators Sift Russ Challenge’ The LA Times, Jan , p.1

11 Why all the fear?

12 Space Science and National Identity: The pattern emerges…  “All Chinese design, not Lussian, velly plitty, no?” Illingworth, 1959 (during Nikita Krushchev’s visit to China)

13 Keeping up with the neighbours

14 Responses to Sputnik

15 “IGY”, interplanetary communication, and internationalism in the Cold War International Geophysical Year, July June 30, 1958 October 4, 1957: Sputnik’s first broadcast from orbit “Artificial earth satellites will pave the way for space travel, and it seems that the present generation will witness how the freed and conscious labor of the peoples of the new Socialist society turns even the most daring of mankind’s dreams into reality.’ Official Soviet Announcement of Sputnik’s successful orbit. Mission Statement, Soviet Commission on Interplanetary Communications, c 1954


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