Running in Circles: The Heidelberg Kruzhok and the Nationalization of Russian Chemistry1

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Science was introduced into Russia twice. The first introduction occurred when Peter the Great (reigned 1689-1725) brought over both the institutions and the practitioners of Enlightenment natural philosophy, but his Academy of Sciences (founded 1725) never managed to train a self-perpetuating cascade of native scientists who saw themselves as part of a national project (Vucinich 1963; Schulze 1985; Gordin 2000). As a result, while significant natural philosophical works were produced in Russia (notably Leonhard Euler’s), production by native Russians was sporadic and unexpected (Nikolai Lobachevskii, for example). One might call this period the age of “science in Russia.” This chapter is an exploration of the second introduction of science, in the wake of Russia’s humiliating defeat in the Crimean War (1854-1856). This time, the strategy was markedly different: Instead of importing all the infrastructure and context of science, so to speak, off the shelf, the Russian state preferred to train Russian subjects abroad in the epicenters of international science and then have them build up the necessary institutions for a self-sufficient scientific establishment at home upon their return. The resultant science began to take on idiosyncratic features that contemporaries and historians since have considered “Russian science.”.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGlobal Science and National Sovereignty
Subtitle of host publicationStudies in Historical Sociology of Science
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781135893644
ISBN (Print)9780415963459
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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