Sam Phoenix Clarke

PhD Candidate in Political Thought and Intellectual History

Sam Phoenix Clarke is a PhD student in History at Trinity Hall, working on the politics of science in mid-20th-century Britain. He holds a BA in Human, Social, and Political Sciences (University of Cambridge, 2016-19) and a MPhil Political Thought and Intellectual History (University of Cambridge, 2019-20), and now works at the intersection of political theory, intellectual history, and the history and philosophy of science, supervised by Professor Duncan Kelly.

Sam's research focuses on the political and economic thought of British scientists in, around, and opposing the 1930s-1950s 'Social Relations of Science' movement. He works on various ideas around the development, application, planning, and control of science; programmes for the socialist reorganisation of science and technology; and the opposition to these from liberal and conservative scientists and philosophers. He is particularly interested in the use of histories of science as a form of political argument: in how scientists wrote histories of their disciplines in order to advance particular theoretical claims about the nature and growth of science; to analyse the prospects, limitations, and functions of the science of their time; and to make practical prescriptions about the future of science in society. He is also interested in the writing of such histories as a public, pedagogical tool - how scientists, in narrating the genesis and development of their disciplines and practices for a public audience, intended not just to educate their audiences in modern scientific knowledge, but also to persuade them of the stakes and importance of recognising the entanglement of science with politics.

Sam is also an editor for the blog of Cambridge's graduate historians, 'Doing History in Public', where he has written on such themes (see below for details).

POL11 - Political Philosophy and the History of Political Thought since c.1890

POL21 - The Politics of the Future, 1880-2080

HPS Paper 6 - Ethics and Politics of Science, Technology and Medicine

HPS Graduate Seminar - Ideologies of Science

'Marx contra McLuhan? Medium Theory and the Political Economy of Communication' - Luminomelia Philosophy Society, September 2021, Cambridge

'The Scientist as Worker: theorising the interests of the scientific community in mid-20th century British socialism' - University of Cambridge Graduate Conference in Political Thought and Intellectual History, April 2022, Cambridge

'Science, Planning, and the Politics of the Tacit' - Luminomelia Philosophy Society, May 2022, Cambridge

'Histories of Science as Political Argument in the 20th-century British left' - EUI Intellectual History Working Group Graduate Conference, June 2022, Florence

'Class Power and Natural Science: The Politics and Pedagogy of Science in Mid-20th-Century British Socialism' - UCL/QMUL London Graduate Conference in HPT, June 2022, London

'The Historical Materialist Moment in Mid-20th-Century British Histories of Science' - International Society for Intellectual History Conference on 'Histories of Knowledge'; September 2022, Venice

'Science in Self-Defence: Political Pedagogy and the History of Science in Interwar Britain' - British Society for the History of Science Graduate Conference, March 2023, Oxford

'Science, Technology, and Socialism in 1930s Britain: The ‘Social Relations of Science’ movement and the politics of science and technology' - Trinity Hall Academic Taster Session, July 2023, Cambridge

'Head and Hand in the Politics of Science: Classical Greece and the Interwar British Class Struggle' - University of Cambridge Classical Reception Seminar, July 2023, Cambridge

'Scientists in the World Crisis: Experimentalism, Planning, and the Interwar Crisis of Democracy' - International Society for Intellectual History Conference on 'Crisis and Change in Intellectual History'; September 2023, Edinburgh

'Can We Learn Lessons from the History of Science?' -  Luminomelia Philosophy Society, November 2023, Cambridge

Key publications

'The Stakes and Ends of Historicising Science' - Doing History in Public, May 2022 -

'Science in Self-Defence: Doing Science in Public in 1930s Britain' - Doing History in Public, October 2022 -