Science diplomacy on display: mobile atomic exhibitions in the cold war: Introduction to Special Issue

Annals of Science 80 (1):1-9 (2023)
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ABSTRACT Despite the increasing interest in science exhibitions, there has been hardly any work on mobile science exhibitions and their role within science diplomacy – a gap this thematic issue is meant to fill. Atomic mobile exhibitions are seen here not only as cultural sites but as multifaceted strategic processes of transnational nuclear history. We move beyond the bipolar Cold War history that portrays propagandist science exhibitions as instances of a one-way communication employed to promote the virtues of the two major and conflicting political powers. Instead, Science Diplomacy on Display follows mobile atomic exhibitions as they move across national borders and around the world, functioning as spaces for diplomatic encounters. Exhibitions play a vital role not only in the production of knowledge and the formation of political worldviews but also as assets in diplomatic negotiations and as promoters of a new worldview in which nuclear stands at the centre. They are powerful iconic diplomatic devices, that is systems of representations that capture the diplomatic processes in action and make the nitty-gritty details of international relations visible. This issue seeks to trace the multiple and often contradictory meanings that mobile exhibitions took on for various actors.



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