Biological Warfare Warriors, Secrecy and Pure Science in the Cold War: How to Understand Dialogue and the Classifications of Science
Keywords:Biological warfare, Pure science, Cold war, Secrecy
AbstractThis paper uses a case study from the Cold War to reflect on the meaning at the time of the term ‘Pure Science’. In 1961, four senior scientists from Britain’s biological warfare centre at Porton Down visited Moscow both attending an International Congress and visiting Russian microbiological and biochemical laboratories. The reports of the British scientists in talking about a limited range of topics encountered in the Soviet Union expressed qualities of openness, sociologists of the time associated with pure science. The paper reflects on the discourses of “Pure Science”, secrecy and security in the Cold War. Using Bakhtin’s approach, I suggest the cordial communication between scientists from opposing sides can be seen in terms of the performance, or speaking, of one language among several at their disposal. Pure science was the language they were allowed to share outside their institutions, and indeed political blocs.