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Actes d'Història de la Ciència i de la Tècnica
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  This is an Open Access Journal Open Access journal
ISSN (Print) 2013-1666 - ISSN (Online) 2013-9640
Published by Institut d'Estudis Catalans Homepage  [19 journals]
  • Following Poisons in Society and Culture (1800-2000): A Review of Current

    • Authors: José Ramón Bertomeu-Sánchez, Ximo Guillem-Llobat
      Abstract: This paper offers an overview of recent historical studies on toxic products. First, we offer an introduction to the literature and the principal academic groups, describing the major trends in four different areas of scholarship: history of crime and forensic science, history of food quality and adulteration, history of occupational and public health, and environmental history. Second, we suggest avenues for future research by highlighting three meeting points: protagonists, spaces and proof. We also discuss some challenges of the historical narratives: the agency of human and non-human actors; the integration of material, human and environmental effects; and the combination of the socio-cultural analysis of historical cases with the current understanding of poisons. While avoiding the unforgivable sins of anachronism or, even worse, of technological determinism, we want to encourage historical narratives with a bearing on current affairs. This is the last point discussed in the final conclusions. We claim that the history of toxic products can raise long-term debates, decenter the current focus, look for hybrid and complex causations, deconstruct the technocratic discourse of experts, empower victims, question legal standpoints and received cultural constructs, or point out the difficulties of democratic decision-making processes in matters regarding toxic products, particularly in a world marked by an uneven distribution of power and risks. In this sense, we claim that a history of toxic products can create new links between historians and social movements, academic research and activism, while enlarging the opportunities for fostering the uses of history in policy-making. In order to follow this promising path, we argue the need of crossing disciplinary borders of the history of crime, the history of occupational health, and food and environmental history, while moving outside academia and engaging in public debates.Keywords: History of crime, food history, environmental history, toxic products.
      PubDate: 2017-04-04
      Issue No: Vol. 9 (2017)
  • Responding to the colourful use of chemicals in nineteenth- century food

    • Authors: Carolyn Cobbold
      Abstract: The paper explores how chemists tried to deal with one of the first examples of mass-produced industrial chemicals to enter daily life, through investigating the use of coal-tar derived dyes to colour food in the late nineteenth century. From the mid 1850s European chemists manufactured a range of new chemicals included drugs, dyes, scents and flavourings from the derivatives of coal-tar waste. Initially greeted by the nineteenth-century press and public as ‘wonder dyes’, the vibrant new colours were seen as an example of how chemistry could transform society. The new dyes, produced for the textile industry, were widely employed to colour food and drink across Europe and America. This paper, a summary of a comparative historical study, demonstrates how cultural differences influence the understanding and management of new scientifically produced substances. The research highlights the difficulties that scientists face in helping determine how new scientific products and processes are applied in the marketplace. It also provides insights into early consumer risk management, the rise of scientific experts, and public health legislation. The second half of the nineteenth century was a time when food production was becoming increasingly industrialised and consumers faced complex and contradictory food knowledge claims. Food manufacturers introduced synthetic colourings and began to employ chemists during a period when food adulteration was of considerable social concern. At the same time, analytical chemists were being paid by the government to identify harmful and fraudulently applied food additives as well as by food companies, raising questions of whom to trust and how ‘scientific’ knowledge is formed and evaluated. Chemists, and chemical preservatives and colourings, became part of the armour employed by food producers and retailers to secure market share. However, the rapidly changing food market,intensifying industrialization and rising imports of food, led to mounting anxieties about chemical food colourings.Key words: Risk management, expertise, environmental health.
      PubDate: 2017-04-04
      Issue No: Vol. 9 (2017)
  • Aluminium smelters and industrial hazards in the Maurienne Valley.
           Experts, reformers and local resistance (1892-1939)

    • Authors: Olivier Chatterji
      Abstract: This article offers a historical perspective on the interplay between pollutants, environment and health in the Alps of Savoy during the Second Industrial Revolution. At the turn of the 19th century, Savoy’s Alpine valleys were radically transformed by a large-scale gold rush to exploit its hydroelectric potential for use by a growing electrochemical industry. More particularly, we look at the Maurienne Valley where six aluminium production factories built between 1892 and 1906 were among the earliest implementations of a newly discovered electrochemical process to manufacture large quantities of the metal. We show how, along with modernity narratives, hitherto unknown pollution effects raised unprecedented questions about the toxicity of air emissions. We then discuss how the impacts of industrial pollution on the agricultural economy fuelled a growing mobilisation of farmer unions led by a prominent pharmacist in the region. We show how the latter single-handedly attempted to merge the grievances of disaffected local communities throughout Savoy into a transregional reform movement to campaign for legislative change and tighter control of polluting industries. We also look at the large range of issues it brought up, such as worker and public health along with the longterm impacts of pollutants on the valley’s ecology. In parallel, we explore the ambivalent work of administrative experts and their role in enforcing the view that air emissions were innocuous. Lastly, we look at the role of firms after the war in providing social amenities and easing the transition from a predominantly rural to an
      industrial society.Keywords: Pollution, health, environment, aluminium.
      PubDate: 2017-04-04
      Issue No: Vol. 9 (2017)
  • L’experiment d’escalfament de mercuri en la Rutbat al-ḥakīm de
           Maslama al-Qurṭubī

    • Authors: Esteve Solà Sugrañes
      Abstract: Aquest article analitza un fragment de la Rutbat al-ḥakīm de Maslama al-Qurṭubī, alquimista andalusí del segle x, en què es descriu un experiment d’escalfament de mercuri. Com a resultat de la recerca duta a terme s’edita i es tradueix el fragment esmentat a partir del manuscrit Beşirağa 505 del segle xiv; es revisa la interpretació que fa dels resultats i de les causes de la transformació produïda sobre la base del context cultural i científic de l’època, i es compara amb la proposada per Lavoisier en el segle xviii. S’aporta d’aquesta manera la descripció d’alguns conceptes bàsics i mètodes d’experimentació de l’alquímia àrab medieval i la corresponent referència en la química de finals del segle xviii, considerada com la base de la química moderna. L’article inclou també un apèndix amb la descripció codicològica del manuscrit esmentat i un altre amb la descripció d’una prova d’escalfament de mercuri a 110 °C.Paraules clau: alquímia, al-Àndalus o Alandalús, Maslama al-Qurṭubī, Rutbat al-ḥakīm, escalfament del mercuri, Lavoisier, química moderna
      PubDate: 2017-04-04
      Issue No: Vol. 9 (2017)
  • Antoni de Martí i Franquès i el debat sobre la febre groga que tingué
           lloc a Barcelona en els primers anys del segle XIX

    • Authors: Agustí Camós Cabeceran
      Abstract: El químic i naturalista Antoni de Martí també va fer algunes investigacions mèdiques. Igual que molts metges i cirurgians catalans contemporanis seus com Francesc Salvà i Antoni Cibat, investigà sobre la febre groga impressionat pel brot que se’n produí l’any 1803 a Barcelona. A partir de la seva memòria sobre la composició de l’aire i del que va escriure Llorenç Presas inspirant-se en les idees de Martí, sabem que no creia que les malalties es produïssin per una variació en la proporció dels gasos atmosfèrics. Relacionava l’origen dels agents infecciosos amb la generació espontània, i pensava que es transmetien a través de l’aire.Paraules clau: segle xix, Barcelona, Catalunya, Espanya, febre groga, Martí Franquès, Antoni Cibat, Llorenç Presas, Francesc Salvà, generació espontània, Inquisició
      PubDate: 2017-04-04
      Issue No: Vol. 9 (2017)
  • Manuel Castillo Martos i Juan Luis Rubio Mayoral. “Enseñanza, ciencia e
           ideología en España (1890-1950)” (Guillermo Lusa)

    • Authors: Guillermo Lusa
      PubDate: 2017-04-04
      Issue No: Vol. 9 (2017)
  • XIV Trobada d’Història de la Ciència i de la Tècnica. 14th Conference
           on the History of Science and Technology. Castelló de la Plana (Silvia

    • Authors: Silvia Pérez
      PubDate: 2017-04-04
      Issue No: Vol. 9 (2017)
  • Georgina Blanes Nadal (1966 - 2015) per Lluís Garrigós i Oltra

    • Authors: Lluís Garrigós i Oltra
      PubDate: 2017-04-04
      Issue No: Vol. 9 (2017)
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