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Isis. 2014 Jun;105(2):264-91.

An assemblage of science and home. The gendered lifestyle of Svante Arrhenius and early twentieth-century physical chemistry.

Abstract

This essay explores the gendered lifestyle of early twentieth-century physics and chemistry and shows how that way of life was produced through linking science and home. In 1905, the Swedish physical chemist Svante Arrhenius married Maja Johansson and established a scientific household at the Nobel Institute for Physical Chemistry in Stockholm. He created a productive context for research in which ideas about marriage and family were pivotal. He also socialized in similar scientific sites abroad. This essay displays how scholars in the international community circulated the gendered lifestyle through frequent travel and by reproducing gendered behavior. Everywhere, husbands and wives were expected to perform distinct duties. Shared performances created loyalties across national divides. The essay thus situates the physical sciences at the turn of the twentieth century in a bourgeois gender ideology. Moreover, it argues that the gendered lifestyle was not external to knowledge making but, rather, foundational to laboratory life. A legitimate and culturally intelligible lifestyle produced the trust and support needed for collaboration. In addition, it enabled access to prestigious facilities for Svante Arrhenius, ultimately securing his position in international physical chemistry.

PMID:
25154133
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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