Historical geographies of provincial science: themes in the setting and reception of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in Britain and Ireland, 1831-c.1939

Charles Withers, Rebekah Higgitt, Diarmid Finnegan
2008 British Journal for the History of Science  
The British Association for the Advancement of Science sought to promote the understanding of science in various ways, principally by having annual meetings in different towns and cities throughout Britain and Ireland (and, from 1884, in Canada, South Africa and Australia). This paper considers how far the location of its meetings in different urban settings influenced the nature and reception of the association's activities in promoting science, from its foundation in 1831 to the later 1930s.
more » ... everal themes concerning the production and reception of science--promoting, practising, writing and receiving--are examined in different urban contexts. We consider the ways in which towns were promoted as venues for and centres of science. We consider the role of local field sites, leading local practitioners and provincial institutions for science in attracting the association to different urban locations. The paper pays attention to excursions and to the evolution and content of the BAAS meeting handbook as a 'geographical' guide to the significance of the regional setting and to appropriate scientific venues. The paper considers the reception of BAAS meetings and explores how far the association's intentions for the promotion of science varied by location and by section within the BAAS. In examining these themes--the geographical setting of the association's meetings, the reception of association science in local civic and intellectual context and the importance of place to an understanding of what the BAAS did and how it was received--the paper extends existing knowledge of the association and contributes to recent work within the history of science which has emphasized the 'local' nature of science's making and reception and the mobility of scientific knowledge.
pmid:19244850 fatcat:mf2kafajtnbbrc7mnfx7twc3tq