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Knowledge Flows in a Global Age

A Transnational Approach

A transnational approach to understanding and analyzing knowledge circulation.

The contributors to this collection focus on what happens to knowledge and know-how at national borders. Rather than treating it as flowing like currents across them, or diffusing out from center to periphery, they stress the human intervention that shapes how knowledge is processed, mobilized, and repurposed in transnational transactions to serve diverse interests, constraints, and environments. The chapters consider both what knowledge travels and how it travels across borders of varying permeability that impede or facilitate its movement. They look closely at a variety of platforms and objects of knowledge, from tangible commodities—like hybrid wheat seeds, penicillin, Robusta coffee, naval weaponry, seed banks, satellites and high-performance computers—to the more conceptual apparatuses of plant phenotype data and  statistics. Moreover, this volume decenters the Global North, tracking how knowledge moves along multiple paths across the borders of Mexico, India, Portugal, Guinea-Bissau, the Soviet Union, China, Angola, Palestine and the West Bank, as well as the United States and the United Kingdom. An important new work of transnational history, this collection recasts the way we understand and analyze knowledge circulation.

368 pages | 8 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2022

History: History of Technology

History of Science

Political Science: Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, and International Relations


"Krige and his collaborators have assembled a powerful array of studies that reconfigure conventional narratives about how knowledge flows. Divided among historical case studies related in some way or another to national and economic security, on the one hand, and agricultural exchanges, on the other, the volume avoids the usual binaries of Global North and Global South—or of guns and butter—emphasizing the efforts to block, shape, or redirect the flow of knowledge. The cast of characters and the variety of regions is massively expanded, to excellent effect."

Michael D. Gordin, Princeton University

“For too long, ‘global’ histories of science have envisioned an antiquated hydraulic mechanism, pumping out authorized knowledge from northern laboratories to southern deserts. At last, this book reveals instead the densely and intricately reticulated worldwide networks transmitting the concepts and practices of modern science. Abandoning the imperial optic for such multi-sited transnational perspectives makes global science look truly different and far more compelling."

Warwick Anderson, University of Sydney

"An excellent, absorbing, and refreshingly revisionist collection of cutting-edge studies by eminent scholars in the transnational history of modern science and technology, organized and edited by a pioneer in the field. Integrating enlightening empirical examinations with penetrating analyses, the volume illuminates brilliantly forces that both propelled and blocked knowledge flow across national borders."

Zuoyue Wang, California State Polytechnic University

Table of Contents

   Writing the Transnational History of Knowledge Flows in a Global Age
   John Krige
Chapter 1
   Knowledge, State Power, and the Invention of International Science
   Jessica Wang

Part I: Regulating Transnational Knowledge Flows
Chapter 2
   Harnessing Invention: The British Admiralty and the Political Economy of Knowledge in the World War I Era
   Katherine C. Epstein
Chapter 3
   Culture Diplomacy: Penicillin and the Problem of Anglo-American Knowledge Sharing in World War II
   Michael A. Falcone
Chapter 4
   Dangerous Calculations: The Origins of the US High-Performance Computer Export Safeguards Regime, 1968–1974
   Mario Daniels
Chapter 5
   Regulating the Transnational Flow of Intangible Knowledge of Space Launchers between the United States and China in the Clinton Era
   John Krige

Part II: Facilitating Transnational Knowledge Flows
Chapter 6
   Beyond Borlaug’s Shadow: Mexican Seeds and the Narratives of the Green Revolution
   Gabriela Soto Laveaga
Chapter 7
   Moving Coffee from the Cloud Forests of Colonial Angola to the Breakfast Tables of Main Street America, 1940–1961
   Maria Gago
Chapter 8
   Statistics and Emancipation from New Deal America to Guerrilla Warfare in Guinea-Bissau
   Tiago Saraiva
Chapter 9
   Security versus Sovereignty in a Palestinian Seed Bank
   Courtney Fullilove
Chapter 10
   How Data Cross Borders: Globalizing Plant Knowledge through Transnational Data Management and Its Epistemic Economy
   Sabina Leonelli
   Decentering the Global North
   John Krige

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