The Double Legacy of Bernalism in Science Diplomacy


Recent debates in the history of science aimed at reconstructing the history of scientific diplomacy have privileged the analysis of forms of diplomacy coming from above. Instead, the objective of this paper is to raise awareness of these debates by looking at attempts at scientific diplomacy from below. Such a shift in perspective might allow us to observe the impact of marginalized social agents on the construction of international diplomatic choices. This article particularly focuses attention on how the legacy of Bernalism has fostered the emergence of two different types of science diplomacy. On the one hand, Bernalism has influenced the goals of organizations such as UNESCO and the World Peace Council, which are forms of science diplomacy I would term from above. On the other hand, Bernalism has also been at the origin of radical scientific movements that I propose to interpret as forms of scientific diplomacy from below. These have, in fact, played a cardinal role not only in raising public awareness of the social and political roles of science, but also in the more direct participation of scientists in defining the political objectives of their research activity. From this point of view, I analyze how an association like the World Federation of Scientific Workers proposed (at least in the beginning) greater democratic participation than the top-down structures of other forms of scientific internationalism.