An Historical framework for international scientific collaboration: the case of Kitasato Shibasaburo

Date

2012-08-31

Authors

Kriese, Joanna

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Abstract

The Japanese scientist Kitasato Shibasaburo (1853-1931) was one of the founders of microbiology. A devoted student of Robert Koch, his successful collaborations with European scientists resulted in anti-serums for tetanus and diphtheria, the discovery of the causative agent of the bubonic plague, and a number of other major contributions to both science and public health. He achieved this in spite of condescending attitudes on the part of many of his peers and even resistance from within his own government. Yet there remains a paucity of academic writing on Kitasato in the English language, particularly when compared to his eminent contemporaries. What does exist constructs a narrative of an historically weak Japanese scientific establishment. This work challenges that perspective, and will examine Kitasato’s interactions with his fellow collaborators in the context of the considerable social, political, cultural, and linguistic pressures acting upon them in order to elucidate what made them so extraordinarily successful in surmounting these barriers. In so doing it aims to provide insight for the scientists of today – for whom international collaboration is the ever-increasing norm – as to how they have succeeded historically and can now successfully interact with both each other and the powers that organize them.

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Keywords

History of Science, Sociology of Science, Kitasato Shibasaburo, Scientific Collaboration, Gift Theory

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