The book is made of two parts: the first one is a detailed exploration of the litterature around Pasteur’s rise from obscurity to fame and of the corresponding. The Pasteurization of France [Bruno Latour, Alan Sheridan, John Law] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. What can one man accomplish. The pasteurization of France: Bruno Latour, translated by Alan Sheridan and John Law (Cambridge, Massachusetts and London: Harvard University Press.

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The Pasteurization of France

Translation of this book has been aided by a grant from the Georges Lurcy Charitable and Educational Trust. War and peace of microbes — Irreductions. Microbiology — France — History — 19th century. Microbiology — Social aspects — France. The English versions were then re- vised and expanded by me. War and Peace of Microbes Introduction.

Materials and Methods 3 1. Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 13 2. You Will Be Pasteurs of Microbes! Medicine at Last 4. Transition Part Two.

Irreductions Introduction 1. From Weakness to Potency 2. At least, this was the impression gathered in Saint Petersburg by the czar, who offered Kutuzov a diamond star, his chief of staff, Benningsen, diamonds and a hundred thousand roubles in cash, and promotion to many of his officers.

It was also the impression gathered by the French, who took this brief encounter with the Cossacks of Orlov- Denissov as a major defeat. Tolstoy, who writes about the battle in War and Peace, is not quite sure that it took place at all.

The Pasteurization of France |

He is sure, however, that Kutuzov did not want to fight it; rather he tried to delay it for several weeks: Just as for the battle of Austerlitz it was stated — though not in German this time — that ‘the first column will proceed this way and that way, the second column will proceed to this place and that place,’ and so on.

Everything had been admirably thought out, as dispositions always are, and as is always the case not a single column reached its objective at the appointed time” p.

Indeed, no bruni during the battle knew for sure which was the horse and which the cart, the action continually drifting away from what was intended. On October 2, after Kutuzov had been forced to act against his better judgment, his signed order kept being diverted.

The Pasteurization of France — Bruno Latour | Harvard University Press

The young officer who held it got lost and could not find the generals; eventually he arrived late at night at a mansion between the front lines where, to his surprise, the high staff were carousing. When in the morning Kutuzov got up to fight a battle he did not want to fight, he discovered to his fury that not a single soldier was prepared.

No officer had received any marching orders. On the whole, however, Tolstoy considered that the battle — though not planned, not decided upon, and not fought — was a success from the Russians’ point of view: With a min- imum of effort and at the cost frannce trifling losses, despite almost unex- ampled muddle the most important results of the whole campaign were obtained” p.

Pf is this talk about attribution of responsibility, multitude of people, and missing orders? Are we not talking about strategy — the epitome of planned action — and about military chains of frznce — the most ordered system thr direction there is? Indeed we are, but Tolstoy has forever subverted the notion of leader, strategy, and chain of command: So what conclusion should we draw when we hear historians, es- pecially French historians, describe not the victory or defeat of Na- poleon but the victories of Pasteur, that latoru French genius, over the microbes?

On June 2,in the little village of Pouilly-le-Fort in Beauce, Louis Pasteur defeated a terrible disease crance sheep and cows. Introduction 5 called anthrax.

A friend of Pasteur’s gives this account: Monsieur Pasteur, a new Apollo, was not afraid to deliver oracles, more certain of success than that child of poetry would be. In a program laid out in advance, everything that was to happen was announced with a confidence that simply looked hke audacity, for here the oracle was pronounced by science itself, that is to say, it was the expression of a long series of experiments, of which the unvarying constancy of the results proved with absolute certainty the truth of the law discovered’ ‘ Bouley: The strategy was conceived entirely in advance; Pasteur con- cocted it and had every detail figured out; it went according to pasteuization, following a strict order of command from Pasteur to the sheep by way of his assistants and the caretakers.


Following Tolstoy’s advice, we can say that such an passteurization has to be false. We do not know what happened, but we can be sure that a multitude of people took part in the work and that a subtle translation, or “drift,” of their intentions led them to the little village in order to watch vaccinated and unvaccinated sheep withstand tests.

We would like science to be free of war and politics. At least, we would like to make decisions other than through compromise, drift, and uncertainty. We would hke to feel that somewhere, in addition to the chaotic confusion frqnce power relations, tthe are rational rela- tions.

In addition to Tarutino, we would have Pouilly-le-Fort. Sur- rounded by violence and disputation, we would hke to see clearings — whether isolated or connected — from which would emerge incon- trovertible, effective actions.

To this end we have created, in a single movement, politics on one side and science or technoscience on the other Shapin and Schaffer: The Enlightenment paseturization about ex- tending these clearings until they cover the world. Few people still beheve in such an Enlightenment, for at least one reason.

Instead of diminishing, this arsenal has been vastly enlarged. Wars of science, pasteuriztaion on top of wars of rehgion, are now the rage. Not to beheve in it is to feel that we teh been thrown back into the Dark Ages. We cannot count on epistemology to get us over this disappoint- 6 War and Peace of Microbes ment. Although epistemologies have varied over time, they have al- ways been war machines defending science against its enemies — first in the good old days against religion, then against some of the illusions generated by too francr optimism in science itself, still later against the dangers that totalitarian states represent for the autonomy of free scientific inquiry, and finally against the abuses of science distorted by politicians or corporate interests.

These polemical versions of what ffance is and should be are convenient to fight the barbarians and keep them at arm’s length; they are of no avail for describing what a polemic is and how science and war have come to be so intermingled. Epistemologists, like generals, are always one war too late.

The prob- lem is no longer to defend science against religion, abuses, brown- shirts, or devious corporate interests. The problem we now face is to understand that obscure mixture of war and peace in which pasteurizayion tories are only one source lztour science and politics among many sources.

Agnosticism in matters of science is the only way to start without being trapped on one side of the many wars being fought by the guardians of science’s borders. Even if few people still believe in the naive view, courageously defended by epistemologists, that sets science apart from noise and disorder, others would still hke to provide a rational version of sci- entific strategy, to offer clear-cut pasteurizatioon of how it develops and why it works.

They would like to attribute definite interests to the social groups that pastwurization science, to endow them with exphcit bound- aries, and to reconstruct a strict chain of command going from mac- rostructures to the fine grain of science.

Even if we have to give up our beliefs in science, some of us still wish to retain the hope that another science, that of society and history, might explain science.

Alas, as Tolstoy shows us, we do not know how to describe war and politics any better than we ths how to explain science. To offer well-conceived Machiavellian strategies to explain science is as mean- ingless as to write “Die erste Colonne marschiert, die zweite Colonne marschiert.

Appealing to an example from an earlier period might Introduction 7 help us find a way out. To reestablish democracy in the troubled time of the religious wars, Spinoza had to become agnostic as far as the biblical text was concerned and to devise new ways of understanding the shocking mixture of evangelical messages and massacres.

My “Trac- pastejrization Scientifico-Politicus,” instead of clearly dividing science from the rest of society, reason from force, makes no a-priori distinction among the various pastfurization that are summoned in times of war. Recog- nizing the similarity among aUies, I offer no a-priori definition of what is strong and what is weak. I start with the assumption that everything is involved in a relation of forces but that I have no idea at all of precisely what a force is.

In the first part of the book I study a series of texts taken from a famous historical battle. In the second part, I work out the principles to show how other politicoscientific mixtures can be studied latojr the same way. To use outdated terms, the first part of the book is more empirical, the second part more theoretical.


To use more appropriate words, the first part pertains to the literary genre of sociology or social history, the second to that of philosophy. Instead of dividing the realm into those who empirically study science in the making and those who claim to guard the borders or establish the foundations of science, I combine the two, and it is together that pasteuruzation should stand or fall.

It has always seemed that if a science were not independent of pohtics, something would be missing and the sky pasteurizahion fall on our heads.

Brunl show that the sky holds up perfectly well on its own, we have to be able to prove in a particular scientific discipline that belief in the sciences, like the old belief in God, is a “superfluous hypothesis. The only way to demonstrate a proof that might win consent is to take an example that is as far removed as possible from the thesis Pasteurizqtion 8 War and Peace of Microbes am trying to prove. We have to take a radical, unchallengeable sci- entific revolution, one that has profoundly transformed society and yet owes it very little.

There are a number of reasons for believing that there is no better example than that of the revolution introduced into medicine, biology, and hygiene by the work of Louis Pasteur.

First, this revolution took place at the high point of the scientific religion. Indeed, for some decades between the Franco-Prussian War and World War One, it seemed reasonable to expect the sciences to eliminate political dispute. Second, no one — except extreme cynics — can doubt the value of Pasteur’s discoveries to medicine.

All of the other technological conquests have their embittered critics and mal- contents — not to mention those suffering from radiation — but to pre- vent children from dying from terrible diseases has never been seen as anything other than pqsteurization advantage — except, of course, by the mi- crobes of those diseases. Up to our own time biology has derived its prestige from its influence on health and most of its income from the social security system. Third, in no other scientific bryno technological innovation has there been so short a route between fundamental re- search and its rapid, far-reaching application — so much so that it is reasonable to wonder whether this is not the only example, which has been exaggerated into a general law.

All the other sciences either influence only sections of society or require such a long-term media- tion that in the end industry or the military always intervenes. Fourth and last, it seems impossible to deny that Pasteur’s rapid successes were due to the application at last of scientific method in an area that had been left too long to ths groping in the dark.

The Pasteur blitzkrieg, in striking contrast to the physicians’ frande surgeons’ blind struggle against an invisible enemy, reveals a convincing sci- entific manner, free of compromise, tinkering, and controversy. In sum, it is an indisputable case and and therefore a perfect example for my argument.

But what does “explaining” this example mean? Tge explain does not mean to confine the analysis to the “influences” exerted “on” Pasteur or to the “social conditions” that “accelerated” or “slowed down” his successes. To do so would once again be to filter the content of a science, keeping only its social “environment.

In other words, to explain the science of the Pasteutization 9 Pasteurians, we must describe it without resorting to any of the terms of the tribe. I must admit latiur there is no established stock of such concepts, especially not in the so-called frajce sciences, particularly sociology.

Invented at the same period and by the same people as scientism, sociology is powerless to understand the skills from latpur it has so long been separated. Frane the sociology of the pasteurizqtion I can therefore say, “Protect me from my friends; I shall deal with my enemies,” for if we set out to explain the sciences, it may well be that the social sciences will suffer first. What we have to do is not to explain bacteriology in sociological terms but to make those two logoi once more unrecog- nizable.

In order to make my case, I seem to frwnce putting myself in an in- defensible position. I shall try to explain the least controversial episode in the history of the sciences without bypassing its technical content and without refusing the help that the social sciences might like to offer. The conditions of failure, at least, are clear enough. I shall fail in three cases: