The Politics of Chemistry: Science and Power in Twentieth-Century Spain

As a result of the book The Politics of Chemistry (Cambridge University Press, 2019), the paper approaches the community of Spanish chemists in the twentieth century, and the way in which they shaped cosmopolitan, republican, totalitarian, autarchic, technocratic and liberal values. Spanish chemists took their side in every regime in which they lived, even in war, for instance, their reaction to the cruelties of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) being particularly heart-breaking.

Beyond the constraints of a specific national context, I will provide a broader reflection on the way in which chemists ‘co-constructed’ different political regimes and became powerful ideological agents throughout the century. Often under the banner of a rhetoric of neutrality, they created strong links with industrial and military projects, and became involved in national rivalries and international endeavours, which deserve a more careful examination.