One of my fondest hopes for this blog—and for the Forum for the History of Science in America generally—is that it will help us build a community of scholars. I recognize that this has long been the Forum’s purpose. Yet I think our means of community building have been changing, out of necessity.
The “What’s American about the History of Science in America” series of essays—a brilliant collection that you can peruse on this blog, thanks to the editorial work of my predecessor (and fellow Dan) Dan Goldstein—showcased the changing nature of the forum. Founded as an advocacy organization for Americanists trying to break into a field dominated by Europeanists, the Forum now finds itself surrounded by Americanist historians of science. The earlier forum sought to bring together Americanists to support one another in a difficult environment. It defined success as increased attention to the history of science in America. Forum policies were necessarily expansionary.
It’s no longer clear that the Forum must actively drum up new research. I don’t mean that anyone need oppose more research into the history of science in America. Far from it, I encourage it wholeheartedly. But the larger HOS field seems to be doing plenty of drumming on its own. In fact, the degree to which the Forum’s original mission has succeeded leaves us with a new and familiar problem: how can we keep up with all of the new Americanist stuff out there. There appear to be too many new investigators, too many new directions.
That, I believe, may be where the Forum can step in. Expansion will take care of itself, but we all could use help managing that expansion.
To that end, Americanscience aims at a curationary policy. Yes, I just made that word up. But it’s the best word for what I mean. This blog should curate our field’s expanding cabinet of HOS curiosities. It should highlight new directions and new voices in the field and showcase the range and diversity of on-going investigation.
Thus ends the manifesto. What do you think, dear readers? Will you help?