Alva Myrdal, Unesco, and Cold War International Social Science, 1951-1955

Monday, July 14, 2014: 6:10 PM
Room: Booth 49
Oral Presentation
Per WISSELGREN , Department of Sociology, Umeň University, Sweden
The paper is concerned with the international organizing of the social sciences during the early Cold War era. Empirically it is focused on UNESCO’s Social Science Department (SSD) during Alva Myrdal’s directorship, 1951-1955. The SSD was set up in 1946, as part of the wide family of intergovernmental organisations that emerged with the United Nations in the aftermath of the Second World War. When Alva Myrdal (1901-1986) became the Director of SSD, it has been suggested that she ”set the department on its feet”. But what difference did she actually make? What ideas, visions and hopes did Myrdal have regarding the SSD? How did she try to realise them? Which projects did she initiate during her time as director? Which issues lay closest to her heart? What did she oppose? How did she view her own role as Director of the SSD? With which people and organisations did she collaborate? By employing a STS-perspective and analyzing the everyday practices at the SSD during these five years, the paper intends to discuss the above mentioned questions in relation to the contemporary geopolitical setting.