Between Nature and Society

Between Nature and Society

Biographies of Materials


  • Description
  • Author
  • Info
  • Reviews


This volume opens the readers' eyes to the central role of materials in human societies and in the environment by telling the life stories of fifteen materials. In this rich collection of stories, materials are found at the complex interface between nature and society. They are not just atomic structures with a set of properties and behaviors. They capture the attention of nations worldwide because materials have major impacts on our welfare and can affect international peace and security.


  • About the Contributors
  • Introduction
  • Old and New Materials (Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent):
    • Clays and Zeolites (Frédéric Thibault-Starzyk)
    • Glass (Hervé Arribart and Eric Le Bourhis)
    • Steels (Philippe Dillmann and Catherine Verna)
    • Cement and Concrete (Henri Van Damme)
  • Materials of Promises (Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent):
    • Aluminum (Florence Hachez-Leroy)
    • Plastics (Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent)
    • Silicon (M Grant Norton)
    • Nanocarbons (Sacha Loeve)
  • Controversial Materials (Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent):
    • Chlorine (Hasok Chang)
    • White Lead (Judith Rainhorn)
    • Asbestos (Emmanuel Henry)
    • Plutonium (Harry Bernas and Kate Brown)
  • Critical Materials (Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent):
    • Rubber (Stephen L Harp)
    • Lithium (Pierre Teissier)
    • Rare Earths (Soraya Boudia)
  • Index

Readership: Students in Materials Science, chemistry, history, Science and Technology Studies master courses, Philosophy master courses. Materials scientists, chemical engineers, chemists, cultural history, global history, policy planners, regulators, political scientists.

Key Features:

  • This volume brings together materials scientists, historians, and STS scholars, developing unique interdisciplinary perspectives on materials
  • Unlike materials science textbooks this volume shows how materials enter into our ordinary world and shape our culture in intricate ways
  • Through engaging stories it explains the conditions of success and failure of materials: their complex supply chain, their potential markets, their environmental and societal impacts