Event

Mar 14, 2023
Debating “Scientific Warfare” in Republican China

In the 1930s and 40s, modernizing elites in China demanded to “scientize” (hexuehua 科學化) Chinese society in every regard, which included a science-based education in schools, policies against superstition, the funding of research, and the promotion of hygiene and biomedicine. This discourse also affected the military sphere and, together with similar debates in Europe, produced the notion that future wars would be “scientific wars” (kexue zhanzheng 科學戰爭). The ubiquitous term (which can also be translated as “scientific warfare”) usually referred to the application of natural and life sciences for military purposes and the use of scientific knowledge to create and improve military technology. It appeared in the context of tanks and military aviation, chemical and biological weapons, or futuristic visions about remotely controlled drones, death rays, highly contagious germs, or other science fantasies. This paper explores the role attributed to scientific research in the military and for conducting warfare, and how the idea of “scientific warfare” concerned the participation of scientists in military affairs in China during the Republican era (1927-1949). It shows how the link between science, war and the military prior, during, and shortly after the Second World War had a strong effect on the general view and acceptance of science in China. 

Biography

Nicolas Schillinger is a cultural historian, specializing in the history of science and the history of masculinity in nineteenth and twentieth century China. He is currently a postdoctoral member of the research group “Sinology – Algorithms, Prognostics, Statistics” (Sin-aps) at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, working on a book project tentatively entitled Scientizing an Army–Military Medicine and Life Sciences in Republican China. Nicolas received his Ph.D. from Heidelberg University, where he was a member of the Cluster Asia and Europe in a Global Context. Prior to joining the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, he was a visiting professor at Free University of Berlin. His research and teaching interests also include the history of the Qing dynasty, Republican China, China during the Cold War, the body, medicine, graphic novels, and the military. His first book, The Body and Military Masculinity in Late Qing and Early Republican China: The Art of Governing Soldiers, deals with military reforms and its cultural, social, and political consequences as well as the transformation of masculinity concepts in China between 1895 and 1916. 

Address
Boltzmannstraße 22, 14195 Berlin, Germany
Room
Main Conference Room & Online
Contact and Registration

The Institute's Colloquium series Science Diplomacy and Science in Times of War will take place in person at the MPIWG and online, and is open to all. Academics, students, and members of the public are all welcome to attend, listen, and participate in discussion. Registration details will be posted here in advance of the event.

2023-03-14T14:00:00SAVE IN I-CAL 2023-03-14 14:00:00 2023-03-14 15:30:00 Debating “Scientific Warfare” in Republican China In the 1930s and 40s, modernizing elites in China demanded to “scientize” (hexuehua 科學化) Chinese society in every regard, which included a science-based education in schools, policies against superstition, the funding of research, and the promotion of hygiene and biomedicine. This discourse also affected the military sphere and, together with similar debates in Europe, produced the notion that future wars would be “scientific wars” (kexue zhanzheng 科學戰爭). The ubiquitous term (which can also be translated as “scientific warfare”) usually referred to the application of natural and life sciences for military purposes and the use of scientific knowledge to create and improve military technology. It appeared in the context of tanks and military aviation, chemical and biological weapons, or futuristic visions about remotely controlled drones, death rays, highly contagious germs, or other science fantasies. This paper explores the role attributed to scientific research in the military and for conducting warfare, and how the idea of “scientific warfare” concerned the participation of scientists in military affairs in China during the Republican era (1927-1949). It shows how the link between science, war and the military prior, during, and shortly after the Second World War had a strong effect on the general view and acceptance of science in China.  Biography Nicolas Schillinger is a cultural historian, specializing in the history of science and the history of masculinity in nineteenth and twentieth century China. He is currently a postdoctoral member of the research group “Sinology – Algorithms, Prognostics, Statistics” (Sin-aps) at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, working on a book project tentatively entitled Scientizing an Army–Military Medicine and Life Sciences in Republican China. Nicolas received his Ph.D. from Heidelberg University, where he was a member of the Cluster Asia and Europe in a Global Context. Prior to joining the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, he was a visiting professor at Free University of Berlin. His research and teaching interests also include the history of the Qing dynasty, Republican China, China during the Cold War, the body, medicine, graphic novels, and the military. His first book, The Body and Military Masculinity in Late Qing and Early Republican China: The Art of Governing Soldiers, deals with military reforms and its cultural, social, and political consequences as well as the transformation of masculinity concepts in China between 1895 and 1916.  Boltzmannstraße 22, 14195 Berlin, Germany Main Conference Room & Online Dora Vargha Dora Vargha Europe/Berlin public