From Crisis to a New Institutional Body

  • Roberto LalliEmail author
Part of the SpringerBriefs in History of Science and Technology book series (BRIEFSHIST)


This chapter focuses on the period between the mid-1960s and the mid-1970s, regarded as the maturity phase of the “General Relativity and Gravitation” community. During this phase, many tensions of different kinds emerged and seriously jeopardized the existence of an institutional structure for promoting general relativity at the international level. These tensions ranged from cultural differences to generational struggles, from disciplinary rivalries to political conflicts. All of them became urgent matters of debate when the international conference held in the Soviet Union in September 1968 was dramatically affected by the recent military conflicts of the Six-Day War and of the armed invasion of Czechoslovakia. Under strained political circumstances, scientists attempted to draw a clear boundary between scientific and political matters. In the attempt to do so, the participants came to hold very different views about how these demarcations should be defined in the specific context of the activities of an international scientific institution during the Cold War. Despite the various conflicts, the institution was able to survive: this period ended with the transformation of the International Committee on General Relativity and Gravitation into the International Society on General Relativity and Gravitation—whose statute came to embody the political and other tensions characterizing its establishment.


André Mercier Anti-semitism Christian Møller Cold War Czech crisis Dmitri Ivanenko GDR General relativity Hermann Bondi International Society on General Relativity and Gravitation Israel Peter Bergmann Scientific internationalism Six-Day war Soviet Union 


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© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for the History of ScienceBerlinGermany

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