Alumni

Elena Aronova

Research Scholar (Sep 2012-Dec 2015)

PhD

I am a historian of science working on the history of environmental and evolutionary sciences in  the twentieth century. I study the ways in which scientific practices are affected by, and contribute to, social and political order. My project,  Doing Things with Data: the Cold War Political Economy of Environmental Archives, investigates the politics and contexts of environmental data collection, archiving, and exchange during the Cold War. Tracing the data histories of the International Geophysical Year (the IGY, 1957-8), I show how the practices of World Data Centers in geophysics in the 1950s and 1960s were shaped by, and shaped, the subtle Cold War political economies.  This work is part of the working group "Historicizing Big Data," and a contribution to a thematic volume of Osiris devoted to "Histories of Data" (2017), which I co-edit with David Sepkoski and Christine von Oertzen. In relation to this project I am also collaborating with the IT Department of the MPIWG on a digital humanities resource with the aim at producing a spatial history of the IGY. The project website provides an access to a geo-referential map linked to the database that allows to search and visualize the data collection network and data flow enabled by the IGY.

I am also working on the history of "science studies" as it resurfaced in early Cold War as a politically relevant area of expertise, on both sides of the "iron curtain." This project was my dissertation, which I am now revising into a book tentatively titled Science and the Cultural Cold War: Thinking Science on the Opposite Sides of the Iron Curtain. The issues related to the history of Science Studies in different national and political contexts are also discussed in the forthcoming collection of 11 papers, titled "Paradigms Defected: Politics and Contexts of Science Studies during the Cold War and Beyond," which I co-edit with Simone Turchetti. 

I received my PhD in History and Science Studies at the University of California at San Diego in 2012, after earning a doctorate in Biology and History of Science from the Russian Academy of Science. In 2011/2012 I was a fellow-in-residence at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Greifswald (Alfried Krupp Wissenschaftskolleg-Greifswald). Following my residency at the MPIWG I will join the History Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, as an Assistant Professor. 

 

Projects

No current projects were found for this scholar.

Doing Things with Data: The Cold War Political Economy of Environmental Archives

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Historicizing Big Data

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Science and the Cultural Cold War: Thinking Science on the Opposite Sides of the Iron Curtain

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The Sciences of the Archive

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Events

Presentations, Talks, & Teaching Activities

“The Cold War Political Economy and Dark Data in Geophysics in the Cold War,” workshop “Knowledge/Value and Dark Data: Absences, Interventions and Digital Worlds,” University of Exeter, UK, 15-16 December, 2014
“Doing Things with Data: Geophysical Datascapes and the Politics of Environmental Archives in the Cold War,” History of Science Society annual meeting, Chicago, 6-9 November, 2014
“Geophysical Datascapes: The World Data Centers and the Cold War Political Economy of Data Exchange, 1950s–1960s,” workshop “Histories of Data,” Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, Germany, 16-18 October 2014
“(Big) Data Loss: The Challenges of Historical Data in the Environmental Sciences,” workshop “Big Data is not a Monolith,” Maurer School of Law and School of Informatics and Computing, University of Bloomington, IN, 10 October, 2014
“Science and the Liberal Mind: The Congress for Cultural Freedom and the Quest for a ‘Post-Marxian Basis for Liberalism’,” Dept. II colloquium, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, Germany, June 26, 2014
“Science, the Public, and the Russian Way: Seismology for the Masses,” workshop “Crowds and Clouds,” the University of Chicago, 4-5 April 2014
"Following the Data: Environmental Archives and the Promise of Big Data, 1950s-1970s," a keynote at the conference for graduate students and early-career scholars on "Global Science, Global Technology, Global Impacts,” Center for the History of Physics, American Institute of Physics, Washington, D.C., 30 March-1 April, 2014
"Following the Data: Environmental Archives Between Geophysics and Biology," special seminar at the University of California - Santa Barbara, February 3, 2014
“Big Science: a perspective from an historian,” Workshop “The New Big Science,” Lund, Sweden, January 16-17, 2014
“The Norms of Big Science as a Site of Contest, Negotiation and Debate on the Opposite Sides of the Iron Curtain, 1950-1960s,” workshop “Cold War Science: Secrecy, pedagogy and the dynamics of knowledge in US-Europe relations,” Lorentz Centre and Museum Boerhaave, Leiden, The Netherlands, December 16 – 20, 2013
“Do (Big) Data Have Politics? Cold War and the Political Economy of Data Exchange,” workshop “Historicizing Big Data,” Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, Germany, October 31 – November 2, 2013
"Big Science in the Archive: The IGY World Data Centers and the Political Economy of Data Exchange in the Cold War," ICHSTM, Manchester, UK, 26 July 2013
"The Cold War and the Politics of Big Data in Environmental Sciences, 1957-1972," Lecture in the series "Neuere Perspektiven der Wissenschaftsgeschichte," 11 July 2013, LMU, Munich
"Knowledge of the Globe and Global Politics: 'Global Network for environmental Monitoring' Project, 1960s-1970s," workshop Knowledge Production about Planet Earth and the Global Environment as Indicators of Social Change. University of Bern, CH, January 2013
"UNESCO, the Congress for Cultural Freedom, and the Politics of History of Science / Science Studies in the Cold War,” History of Science Society annual meeting, San Diego, November 15-18, 2012
“The Cold War Contexts and Politics of Science Studies / History of Science,” workshop "Towards a history of the history of science: 50 years since 'Structure',” Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, October 17-20, 2012
“The Politics of Science Studies in the Cold War: The Congress for Cultural Freedom and its Quest for ‘Liberal Studies of Science,’ 1960s-70s,” International Workshop “Politics and Context of Science Studies during the Cold War and Beyond,” Alfried Krupp Wissenschaftskolleg Greifswald, March 22-24, 2012 (Workshop organizer)
“How ‘Big Science’ Changed the Perception of the Role of Science in Society: Discussions on the Phenomenon of Big Science in the USA and USSR in the 1960s and 1970s,” Conference “Engineers, Exact Scientists, and Political Processes: Global Perspectives,” Harvey Mudd College, March 2-3, 2012
“Cold War Science” (Ludwig Maximilian University - Munich, Sommersemester 2014, co-taught with Dr. Christian Joas)

News & Press

“Daten zum Stapeln”—Christine von Oertzen, Elena Aronova, and David Sepkoski in MaxPlanckForschung on the

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Christine von Oertzen, Elena Aronova, and David Sepkoski on the history of Big Data in science and societ

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