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Needham at the crossroads: history, politics and international science in wartime China (1942–1946)



In 1946, the British biochemist Joseph Needham returned from a four-year stay in China. Needham scholars have considered this visit as a revelatory period that paved the way for his famous book series Science and Civilization in China (SCC). Surprisingly, however, Needham's actual time in China has remained largely unstudied over the last seventy years. As director of the Sino-British Scientific Cooperation Office, Needham travelled throughout Free China to promote cooperation between British and Chinese scientists to contain the Japanese invasion during the Second World War. By rediscovering Needham's peregrinations, this paper re-examines the origins of his fascination for China. First, it contests the widely held idea that this Chinese episode is quite separate and different from Needham's first half-life as a leftist scientist. Second, it demonstrates how the political and philosophical commitments he inherited from the social relations of science movement, and his biochemical research, shaped his interest in China's past. Finally, this paper recounts these forgotten years to reveal their implications for his later pursuits as historian of science and as director of the natural-science division of UNESCO. It highlights how, while in China, Needham co-constituted the philosophical tenets of his scientific programme at UNESCO and the conceptual foundations of his SCC.

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1 Joseph Needham, ‘Abstract of a lecture on science and civilization in China’, October 1944, Needham Papers, Cambridge University Library, Cambridge (subsequently NP), Folder C.73; Boulding, Kenneth, ‘Great laws of change’, in Tang, Anthony M., Westfield, Fred M. and Worley, James S. (eds.), Evolution, Welfare and Time in Economics, Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1976, p. 9 .

2 Only Simon Winchester, and Maurice Goldsmith to a lesser extent, have produced detailed descriptive accounts of Needham's time in China. Both focused on his expeditions to discover ancient China rather than on his SBSCO mission. See Winchester, Simon, Bomb, Book, and Compass: Joseph Needham and the Great Secrets of China, London: Penguin Books, 2008 ; Goldsmith, Maurice, Joseph Needham: 20th-Century Renaissance Man, Paris: UNESCO Publishing, 1995, pp. 6988 .

3 Needham, Joseph, The Grand Titration: Science and Society in East and West, London: Allen and Unwin, 1969 .

4 Teich, Mikulas and Young, Robert (eds.), Changing Perspectives in the History of Science: Essays in Honour of Joseph Needham, London: Heinemann, 1973 ; Habib, Irfan and Dhruv, Raina (eds.), Situating the History of Science: Dialogues with Joseph Needham, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999 ; Low, Morris F., ‘Introduction to beyond Joseph Needham: science, technology, and medicine in East and Southeast Asia’, Osiris (1998) 13, pp. 18 ; Bray, Francesca, ‘Joseph Needham, 9 December 1900–24 March 1995’, Isis (1996) 87, pp. 312317 ; Elvin, Mark, ‘Symposium: the work of Joseph Needham’, Past and Present (1980) 87, pp. 1720 ; Xi Xu, ‘British left-wing writers and China: Harold Laski, W.H. Auden and Joseph Needham’, Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong, unpublished, 2013.

5 Lu Gwei-Djen first introduced the expression ‘first half-life’ to refer to Needham's life as a Cambridge biochemist prior to his discovery of China in The first half-life of Joseph Needham’, in Guohao, Li, Mengwen, Zhang and Tianqi, Cao (eds.), Explorations in the History of Science and Technology in China, Shanghai: Shanghai Classics Publishing House, 1982, pp. 138 .

6 Needham, Joseph, ‘Letters I: excerpts from letters, February, 1943, to December, 1943’, in Needham, Joseph and Needham, Dorothy, Science Outpost: Papers of the Sino-British Science Co-operation Office (British Council Scientific Office in China) 1942–1946, London: The Pilot Press Ltd, 1948, pp. 2749, 48; Needham, ‘Memoranda on Future British Council policy in China’, NP, Folder C.95, p. 36.

7 Joseph Needham, ‘Article VII: the Chungking Industrial and Mining Exhibition (1944)’, in Needham and Needham, op. cit. (6), pp. 189–194, 194.

8 The relevant material can be found in the Needham Papers, GB 12, Cambridge University Library, Section C: Sino-British Science Cooperation Office, Folders C1–C166, as well as parts of Section D: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Folders D1–D365.

9 Gail Archibald brushed upon Needham's time in China and its role with respect to UNESCO in How the “S” came to be in UNESCO’, in Petitjean, Patrick, Zharov, Vladimir, Glaser, Gisbert, Richardson, Jacques, de Padirac, Bruno and Archibald, Gail, Sixty Years of Science at UNESCO 1945–2005, Paris: UNESCO Publishing, 2006, pp. 2934 .

10 Low, op. cit. (4); Aant Elzinga, ‘Revisiting the “Needham paradox”’, in Habib and Dhruv, op. cit. (4), pp. 73–113; Sivin, Nathan, Science in Ancient China: Researches and Reflections, Brookfield, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company, 1995 ; Hart, Roger, ‘Beyond science and civilization: a post-Needham critique’, East Asian Science, Technology and Medicine (1999) 16, pp. 88114 ; Nathan Sivin, ‘Why the scientific revolution did not take place in China – or didn't it?’, in Li, Zhang and Cao, op. cit. (5) pp. 89–106.

11 Gregory Blue, ‘Science(s), civilization(s), historie(s): a continuing dialogue with Joseph Needham’, in Habib and Dhruv, op. cit. (4), pp. 29–72. See also Brook, Timothy, ‘The sinology of Joseph Needham’, Modern China (1996) 22, pp. 340348 .

12 See, for instance, Shiv Visvanathan, ‘The strange quest of Joseph Needham’, in Habib and Dhruv, op. cit. (4), pp. 198–219.

13 Sivin, Nathan, ‘Max Weber, Joseph Needham, Benjamin Nelson: the question of Chinese science’, in Walter, Eugene V., Kavolis, Vytautas, Leites, Edmund and Nelson, Marie Coleman (eds.), Civilization East and West: A Memorial Volume for Benjamin Nelson, Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1985, pp. 3749 ; Dum, Liu, ‘A new survey of the “Needham Question”’, Studies in the History of Natural Sciences (2000) 19, pp. 293305 . On civilization see Diederick Raven, ‘Needham, science and Chinese civilisation’, unpublished, at, accessed 30 November 2014.

14 Blue, Gregory, ‘Joseph Needham, heterodox Marxism and the social background to Chinese science’, Science and Society (1998) 62, pp. 195217 ; Brook, op. cit. (11); Brook, Timothy and Blue, Gregory, China and Historical Capitalism: Genealogies of Sinological Knowledge, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999; Xu, op. cit. (4).

15 On the anti-Marxist critiques of Needham's Science and Civilization in China see Charles C. Gillespie, ‘Perspectives (essay review of J. Needham, Science and Civilization in China, Vol. 1 & 2)’, American Scientist (1957), pp. 169–176; Wittfogel, Karl, ‘Review of Joseph Needham, Science and Civilisation in China, Vol. 2’, American Anthropologist (1958) 60, pp. 398400 .

16 Needham, Joseph, Within the Four Seas, London: Allen & Unwin, 1969 ; Needham, ‘History and human values: a Chinese perspective for world science and technology’, Centennial Review (1976) 20, pp. 135 .

17 This nexus was studied Werskey, Gary in The Visible College: A Collective Biography of British Scientists and Socialists of the 1930s, 2nd edn, London: Free Association Books, 1988 ; and by McGucken, William in Scientists, Society, and State: The Social Relations of Science Movement in Great Britain 1931–1947, Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1984 .

18 On Needham's political hopes for Britain see Needham, Joseph, ‘History is on our side: address to clergy (1937)’, in Needham, History Is on Our Side: A Contribution to Political Religion and Scientific Faith, London: George Allen & Unwin Limited, 1946, pp. 2234 ; on his hopes for China see, for instance, Joseph Needham to H.D. Liem, 22 March 1941, NP, Folder C7.

19 Elvin, op. cit. (4), pp. 19–20.

20 Needham, op. cit. (3), p. 190.

21 Joseph Needham to Liem, H.D., 22 March 1941, NP, folder C7.

22 Bernal, John Desmond, The Social Function of Science, London: George Routledge & Sons Ltd, 1939 .

23 Needham, Joseph, ‘Integrative levels: a revaluation of the idea of progress (Herbert Spencer Lecture at Oxford University, 1937)’, in Needham, Time: The Refreshing River (Essays and Addresses, 1932–1942), London: George Allen and Unwin Ltd, 1943, pp. 233272, 258.

24 On embryological research in the 1930s and Needham's own chemical embryology see Dupont, Jean-Claude, ‘Joseph Needham (1900–1995) et l'embryologie chimique’, in Petitjean, Patrick, Schmitt, Stéphane and Jami, Catherine (eds.), Science, histoire et politique: L'exemple de Cambridge, Paris: Magnart-Vuibert, 2009, pp. 6580 ; Danièle Ghesquier, ‘Le concept de protoplasme chez Needham’, in ibid., pp. 81–97; Abir-Am, Pnina G., ‘The philosophical background of Joseph Needham's work in chemical embryology’, in Gilbert, Scott F. (ed.), Developmental Biology: A Comprehensive Synthesis, vol. 7: A Conceptual History of Modern Embryology, New York and London: Plenum Press, 1991, pp. 159180 .

25 Joseph Needham, ‘The gist of evolution (1931)’, in Needham, op. cit. (18), pp. 121–145, 121.

26 Joseph Needham, ‘History is on our side’, op. cit. (18), p. 24.

27 Spencer, Herbert, Principles of Sociology, London and Edinburgh: Williams and Norgate, 1876 ; Spencer, Principles of Biology, London, Edinburgh and Oxford: Williams and Norgate, 1898 ; Spencer, First Principles, 6th edn, London: Williams and Norgate, 1900 .

28 Needham, op. cit. (18), p. 260.

29 Needham, op. cit. (18), p. 22.

30 Needham, op. cit. (18).

31 Joseph Needham, ‘Limiting factors in the history of science observed in the history of embryology (Carmalt Lecture at Yale University, 1935)’, in Needham, op. cit. (23), pp. 141–159, 145.

32 Needham, op. cit. (31), p. 144.

33 Joseph Needham, ‘Rough notes for lecture biology and Marxism’, c.1930s, NP, Folder G57.

34 Goldsmith, op. cit. (2), pp. 69–70; Gurdon, John B. and Rodbard, Barbara, ‘Biographical memoir on Joseph Needham (1900–1995)’, International Journal of Developmental Biology (2000) 44, pp. 913 .

35 C.Y. Hsich to Joseph Needham, 22 January 1942, NP, Folder C9.

36 Joseph Needham to A.G. Morkill, 18 November 1939, NP, Folder C1.

37 On the correspondence between Needham and Chung Shu Lo see NP, Folders C3 and C39.

38 H.D. Liem to Joseph Needham, 14 March 1941, NP, Folder C7; Poling Chang, Monlin Chiang, Y.C. Mei, Tsee-Chong Van, Liang Chao Cha, Tien-Ting Cheng, Fung Yu-Lan, Y.H. Woo, Su-Ching Chen, Chia-Yang Shih and Yu-Sheng Huang to Joseph Needham, 20 April 1941, NP, Folder C7.

39 Chung Shu Lo to the Cambridge Sino-British Cultural Association, 6 May 1941, NP, Folder C7.

40 E.R. Hughes–Joseph Needham correspondence, NP, Folder C5.

41 Chung Shu Lo, ‘Cultural cooperation between China and Britain’, 1939, NP, Folder C3; Lo, ‘Some ideas for cooperation’, 15 November 1939; Lo, ‘The past and present of Chinese university education’, 4 August 1939; Lo, ‘Chinese university education and British universities: a plea for cooperation’, nd, NP, Folder C2.

42 Chung Shu Lo, ‘A suggestion of cultural cooperation between Cambridge and Chinese university’, 8 December 1939, NP, Folder C2.

43 Lo, ‘Cultural cooperation between China and Britain’, op. cit. (41), p. 4.

44 Lo, ‘Some ideas for cooperation’, op. cit. (41), p. 2.

45 Chung Shu Lo to Joseph Needham, 4 November 1939, NP, Folder C3.

46 Ernest Barker, F.C. Bartlett, C.D. Broad et al., ‘A statement by a group of university teachers in Cambridge addressed to university teachers and other scholars in China concerned with co-operation between British and Chinese universities’, January 1940, NP, Folder C4.

47 Barker et al., op. cit. (46), p. 1.

48 Barker et al., op. cit. (46), p. 1.

49 Chung Shu Lo to the Sino-British Cultural Association members of Cambridge concerned with Cooperation between Cambridge University and Chinese Universities, 6 May 1941, NP, Folder C7.

50 G.R. Hughes to Joseph Needham, 6 February 1940, NP, Folder C5.

51 Crowther talked about the creation of the British Council's Science Department and the expansion of its activities during the Second World War in Crowther, James G., Fifty Years with Science, London: Barrie and Jenkins, 1970, pp. 226232 .

52 Crowther, op. cit. (51), pp. 234–235.

53 Mitter, Rana, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937–1945, Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013, p. 168 .

54 Mitter, Rana, ‘Imperialism, transnationalism, and the reconstruction of post-war China: UNRRA in China, 1944–7’, Past and Present (2013), Supplement 8, pp. 5169, 57.

55 Mitter, op. cit. (53), pp. 182–183.

56 Iriye, Akira, ‘Japanese aggression and China's international position, 1931–1939’, in Fairbank, John K. and Feuerwerker, Albert (eds.), The Cambridge History of China, vol. 13: Republican China 1912–1913, Part 2, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008, p. 531 .

57 Lloyd E. Eastman, ‘Nationalist China during the Sino-Japanese War 1937–1945', in Fairbank and Feuerwerker, op. cit. (56), pp. 576–580.

58 Mitter, op. cit. (53), p. 51.

59 Mitter, op. cit. (53), pp. 245–249.

60 Mitter, op. cit. (53), pp. 246–250.

61 Mitter, Rana, ‘Changed by war: the changing historiography of wartime China and new interpretations of modern Chinese history’, Chinese Historical Review (2010) 17, pp. 1314 .

62 Eastman, op. cit. (57), p. 577; Thorne, Christopher, Allies of a Kind: The United States, Britain and the War against Japan, 1941–1945, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978, pp. 176177 .

63 Mitter, op. cit. (53), p. 251; Eastman, op. cit. (57), pp. 576–577.

64 Mitter, op. cit. (53), p. 299.

65 Thorne, op. cit. (62), pp. 186–187.

66 Thorne, op. cit. (62), p. 319.

67 Mitter, op. cit. (61), p. 15.

68 James G. Crowther to Joseph Needham, 20 May 1942; the British Council to Joseph Needham, 3 June 1942; Joseph Needham to the British Council, 24 June 1942, NP, Folder C10.

69 On the May Fourth Movement see Mitter, Rana, A Bitter Revolution: China's Struggle with the Modern World, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004 .

70 E-Tu Zen Sun, ‘The growth of the academic community, 1912–1949’, in Fairbank and Feuerwerker, op. cit. (56), pp. 381–382; Wang, Zuoyue, ‘Saving China through science: the Science Society of China, scientific nationalism, and civil society in republican China’, Osiris (2002) 17, pp. 310319 .

71 Wang, op. cit. (70), pp. 299–306. Wang pointed out that tens of thousands of Chinese came to study in Japan, Europe and the United States. He also referred to a unique survey conducted in 1954 which established that between 1854 and 1954 some 22,000 Chinese had studied in the United States. Wang, Zuoye, ‘Transnational science during the Cold War: the case of Chinese/American scientists’, Isis (2010) 101, pp. 367377, 369–370; On the survey see Wang, Yi Chu, Chinese Intellectuals and the West, 1872–1949, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1966, pp. 119120, 167, 185.

72 National Academy of Peiping and its war-time activities’, Nature (20 April 1946) 157, p. 524 .

73 Sun, op. cit. (70), p. 412.

74 Sun, op. cit. (70), p. 413; Joseph Needham, ‘Report II: the second and third year's working of the Sino-British Science Cooperation Bureau, February 1946’, in Needham and Needham, op. cit. (6), pp. 56–75, 59.

75 Sun, op. cit. (70), p. 415.

76 Sun, op. cit. (70), p. 417.

77 Joseph Needham, ‘Article I: science in south-west China. (1) The physico-chemical sciences (1943)’, in Needham and Needham, op. cit. (6), pp. 80–81.

78 Needham, op. cit. (77), p. 82.

79 Joseph Needham, ‘Report I: the first year's working of the Sino-British Science Cooperation Bureau, February 1944’, in Needham and Needham, op. cit. (6), pp. 16–26, 17.

80 Needham, op. cit. (74), pp. 56–57.

81 Needham, op. cit. (79), p. 23.

82 Joseph Needham, ‘Science and agriculture in China and the West (Chungking, 1944)’, in Needham and Needham, op. cit. (6), pp. 252–258, 258.

83 Needham, op. cit. (82), p. 255; Joseph Needham, ‘Abstract of a lecture on science and civilization in China’, 1944, NA, Folder C73.

84 Needham, op. cit. (74), p. 55.

85 Natural Science Division, Guide Booklet: Note of the Section on the Chinese Scientific War Effort and the Work of the Sino-British Science Co-operation Office, International Scientific Exhibition, Paris, 1946, UNESCO Archives, UNESCO Headquarters, Paris (subsequently UA), File UNESCO/Nat. Sci./2, p. 2.

86 Joseph Needham to Percy M. Roxby, February 1946, NA, Folder C98.

87 Huan Hsing-Tsung, ‘Peregrinations with Joseph Needham in China, 1943–44’, in Li, Zhang and Cao, op. cit. (5), pp. 39–76.

88 Joseph Needham, ‘Science and life in wartime China (a broadcast from London, December, 1944)’, in Needham and Needham, op. cit. (6), pp. 50–55, 50.

89 Needham, op. cit. (6), pp. 34, 32.

90 Needham, op. cit. (82) p. 258.

91 Needham, op. cit. (82), p. 253.

92 Needham, op. cit. (82), p. 255.

93 Needham, op. cit. (82), pp. 256–257.

94 Needham, op. cit. (82), p. 257.

95 Needham, op. cit. (82), p. 257.

96 Needham, op. cit. (82), p. 258.

97 Needham used the notion of Asiatic bureaucratism for the first time in Needham, op. cit. (82), p. 258; he later reflected on it upon his return to Britain in Needham, Joseph, ‘On science and social change’, Science and Society (1946) 10, pp. 225251 .

98 See Wittfogel, Karl, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft Chinas: Versuch der wissenschaftlichen Analyse einer großen asiatischen Agrargesellschaft, Leipzig: Hirschfeld, 1931 .

99 On the concept of Asiatic mode of production see Dunn, Stephen P., The Fall and Rise of the Asiatic Mode of Production, Oford: Routledge & Keagan Paul Ltd, 1982 ; see also Brook, op. cit. (11), p. 344.

100 Finlay, Robert, ‘China, the West, and world history in Joseph Needham's “Science and Civilisation in China”’, Journal of World History (2000) 11, pp. 265303, 274–275; Brook, op. cit. (11), pp. 344–345.

101 Blue, op. cit. (14), pp. 204–206, also described the nature of the disputes that divided Marxist thinkers regarding China's status before Stalin expelled the notion of Asiatic mode of production from the official Soviet historiography.

102 Werskey, op. cit. (17), pp. 179–185.

103 Joseph Needham, ‘International science cooperation in war and peace’, 1943, NA, Folder C72.

104 Joseph Needham, ‘Science and international relations’, fifteenth Robert Boyle Lecture, Oxford University Junior Scientific Club, 1 June 1948, NA, Folder G70, p. 5.

105 Joseph Needham to T.V. Sung, 29 December 1943, NA, Folder D1.

106 Joseph Needham, ‘First memorandum on an international science cooperation service (Chungking, July, 1944)’, in Needham and Needham, op. cit. (6), pp. 274–282.

107 Needham, op. cit. (106); Joseph Needham, ‘Memorandum addressed to the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee – measures for the organization of international cooperation in science in the postwar period’, December 1944, NA, Folder D6; Joseph Needham, ‘The place of science and international scientific cooperation in postwar world organization, Memorandum III’, 28 April 1945, NA, Folder D14.

108 Edgerton, David, Britain's War Machine: Weapons, Resources and Experts in the Second World War, London: Allen Lane, 2011 ; Edgerton, Warfare State: Britain 1920–1970, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005 .

109 Krige, John and Barth, Kai-Henrik, ‘Science, technology, and international affairs’, Osiris (2006) 21, pp. 121 .

110 Krige, John and Wang, Jessica, ‘Nation, knowledge and imagined futures: Science, technology and nation-building, post-1945’, History and Technology (2015) 31, pp. 171179 ; see also Oreskes, Naomi and Krige, John, Science and Technology in the Global Cold War, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2014 .

111 Petitjean, Patrick, ‘Finding a footing: the sciences within the United Nations system’, in Petitjean, Patrick, Zharov, Vladimir, Glaser, Gisbert, Richardson, Jacques, de Padirac, Bruno and Archibald, Gail (eds.), Sixty Years of Science at UNESCO 1945–2005, Paris: UNESCO publishing, 2006, pp. 4852 ; Petitjean, ‘Giving science for peace a chance: the post-war international laboratory projects’, in ibid., pp. 52–57; Elzinga, Aant, ‘UNESCO and the politics of international cooperation in the realm of science’, in Petitjean, Patrick (ed.), Les sciences coloniales: Figures et institutions, Paris: Orstom édition, 1996, pp. 163202 ; Elzinga, Aant and Landström, Catharina, Internationalism and Science, London: Taylor Graham, 1996 . On the FAO see Staples, Amy L.S., ‘To win the peace: the Food and Agriculture Organization, Sir John Boyd Orr, and the World Food Board proposals’, Peace and Change (2003) 28, pp. 495523 .

112 Needham followed a long tradition of scientific universalism and internationalism. With his ISCS, he reproduced the commonly held idea that because of science's inherent universality, scientists were united through a single global pursuit and thus formed as a community a model of peaceful cooperation. For a historical overview of the shifting conceptions of science's internationality see Somsen, Geert J., ‘A history of universalism: Conceptions of the internationality of science from the Enlightenment to the Cold War’, Minerva (2008) 46, pp. 361379 . For more studies on how scientific internationalism has been differently conceived in interwar Europe see Schröder-Gudehus, Brigitte, Les scientifiques et la paix: La Communauté Scientifique Internationale au cours des années 20, Montréal: Les Presses de l'Université de Montréal, 1978 ; Forman, Paul, ‘Scientific internationalism and the Weimar physicists: The ideology and its manipulation in Germany after World War I’, Isis (1973) 64, pp. 150180 ; Widmalm, Sven, ‘Science and neutrality: the Nobel Prizes of 1919 and scientific internationalism in Sweden’, Minerva (1995) 33, pp. 339360 ; Waqar H. Zaidi, ‘Technology and the reconstruction of international relations: liberal internationalist proposals for the internationalisation of aviation and the international control of atomic energy in Britain, USA and France, 1920–1950’, PhD thesis, Imperial College London, 2008.

113 Needham, op. cit. (104), p. 6.

114 Preparatory Commission, ‘Revised progress report on the programme of the UNESCO. Chapter V. Natural Sciences, 11 September 1946, UA, file UNESCO C/2, p. 1; Preparatory Commission, ‘Progress report on the programme of the UNESCO’, 1946, UA, File UNESCO/Prep.Com./51, p. III. B.

115 Joseph Needham, ‘Science and society by a Chinese student reporter’, in Needham and Needham, op. cit. (6), pp. 120–121, 120.

116 Needham, op. cit. (82), p. 257. This statement reflects Needham's ambiguous conception of science's universality. Needham never questioned science's universality but criticized its existing organization for hampering its universal outreach. For him, science's intrinsic universalism would finally become a tangible reality once the world's scientists were organized in a tight and cooperative community. When, and only when, connected, for instance via the International Cooperation Service that he wanted UNESCO to implement, science would become one.

117 Needham, op. cit. (115), p. 121.

118 Needham, op. cit. (115), p. 121.

119 Needham, ‘The place of science …’, op. cit. (107), p. 3.

120 Needham, ‘The place of science …’, op. cit. (107), p. 3.

121 Needham, ‘The place of science …’, op. cit. (107), p. 3.

122 Needham, ‘The place of science …’, op. cit. (107), p. 3.

123 Needham, ‘The place of science …’, op. cit. (107), p. 2.

124 Needham acted as special counsellor to the natural-science subcommittee of the Preparatory Commission. UNESCO Preparatory Commission, ‘Revised progress report on the programme of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation, Chapter V, natural sciences’, 11 September 1946, UA, File UNESCO C/2, p. 3.

125 Needham's natural-science division organized the Latin American Conference for the Development of Science (LACDOS) in Montevideo, Uruguay; the High Altitude Biology Conference in Lima, Peru; and the first Latin American Marine Biology Congress at Vina del Mar, Chile.

126 ‘UNESCO's main activities in the western hemisphere: memorandum presented to the first meeting of the Inter-American Cultural Council’, 1951, UA, File WS/081.145, p. 16.

127 Needham, op. cit. (88), p. 54.

128 Fu Ssu-nien, ‘Farewell by Fu Ssu-nien’, in Needham and Needham, op. cit. (6), pp. 285–286, 286.

I would like to thank archivists at UNESCO, Paris and Cambridge University Library for their assistance in accessing key records. I am also grateful to Geert Somsen, Raf de Bont and Wiebe Bijker for their constructive comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript.

Needham at the crossroads: history, politics and international science in wartime China (1942–1946)



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