CPF: Symposium “Chemistry and industry in small wars of the 20th century”

Dear all,

we look forward to receiving paper proposals for the following symposium at the ESHS conference (Barcelona 4-7 September 2024)

Session title: “Chemistry and industry in small wars of the 20th century”

During WWI, chemistry at its largest sense became a major warfare asset for the main belligerents. Frightening toxic weapons such as phosgene and yperite, helpful sanitary products such as morphine or the Dakin-Carrell solution and powerful fertilizers and insecticides such as nitrates and hydrogen cyanide were displayed in an ambiguous show of scientific progress and industrial efficiency. Private industries mobilized for the war effort accounted for a significant part of the production of these substances. Many studies have thus explored the role played by big firms such as Bayer, BASF, ICI, Rhone-Poulenc or DuPont, first in WWI, later in WWII.

However, much less historiographical attention has been paid to the production and use of gases, drugs, fertilizers or insecticides in the many small wars that occurred throughout the world during the 20th century (colonial wars, revolutions, south-south conflicts, asymmetric wars). With exceptions such as the Vietnam War, there is little literature exploring the role of chemistry when one or several parties in a minor conflict presented a weak development in that particular sector of their local academy and industry.

We welcome proposals on the following research topics:

– Local chemical companies that played significant roles in minor conflicts

– Local scientists, technicians, army officers, entrepreneurs or any other actors who played key roles in the production and use of chemical products in minor conflicts

– Differences and similarities in the manufacture and use of chemical products between large and small wars, including innovations specific to the latter

– Connections of local chemical companies with big multinational industries of Western countries during minor conflicts

– Circulations of chemical knowledge, processes, technology and experts between more and less developed countries during minor conflicts

Please send a title and abstract (max 250 words) to javier_martinez@unizar.es before the deadline of 22 November 2023

Best regards

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