University of Cambridge > > Departmental Seminars in History and Philosophy of Science > The dream of orderly development: selling the importance of science in Arctic North America after 1945

The dream of orderly development: selling the importance of science in Arctic North America after 1945

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Lewis Bremner.

(Part of a joint project with Lize-Marié van der Watt)

Towards the end of the Second World War, individuals in Canada and the United States saw environmental information collected by the US military as a resource for the economic and social development of Arctic North America. From this agitation arose the Arctic Institute of North America (AINA), a private US-Canadian organization founded in 1944 to encourage and direct northern research within a broader framework of ‘orderly development’. The term presumed a dichotomy not between development and its absence, but between more or less application of knowledge to optimise development. My aim is to explore how AINA asserted the importance of orderly development within the context of expanded state funding for science – but also anxieties (particularly in the Canadian government) toward the value of academic research for state administration, and continued US power over Canadian spaces. Wider debates over the importance of curiosity-driven over mission-oriented research met more local debates over who (and what) constituted a socially and politically appropriate source of expertise. Not uniquely, orderly development guided by science increasingly became a justification for maintaining spending on northern research projects as an end in itself. I conclude with reflections on how its apostles scrambled to retain authority in the late 1960s when environmental concerns grew, and when the Prudhoe Bay oil strike sparked massive interest in the North American Arctic – despite rather than because of science-backed planning.

This talk is part of the Departmental Seminars in History and Philosophy of Science series.

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