From Interaction to Integration?

Transnational Scientific Communities in Biology


In the biological sciences, various transnational networks, clubs, and scientific organisations have shaped cooperation and influenced political integration. This chapter presents case studies on early modern naturalists’ correspondence, on networks of evolutionary biologists, of the marine station in Naples as a centre of communities of experimentalists, and the foundation of the European Molecular Biology Organisation, suggesting the following insights: First, from the early modern period on, transnational scientific communities of a self-described or implicit European character can be identified, though the sustainability and impact of these communities’ Europeanness seems uneven. Second, some of these communities contribute to a European identity and cause spillover effects of varying quality. Third, some developments exemplify the Haasian neofunctionalist logic of “spillovers” and help to explain how processes of scientific community-building can be understood as processes that are both self-reinforcing (leading to intensified scientific cooperation) and motivate further political integration. Still, the shift of scientists’ loyalties to a European level seems incomplete at best, since frequently scientists still need incentives in order to be brought to cooperate with partners from other European countries. Fourth, we find that in general, science turns to politics for funds, and politics to science for “innovation” and prestige. Overall, effects of science for promoting European identity exist but are quite limited.


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© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of DundeeDundeeScotland

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