Meeting jointly with the 24th International Congress of the History of Science, Medicine and Technology (www.ichstm2013.com). The general theme selected for the 2013 ICHSTM meeting is: Knowledge at Work.
Knowledge at Work
If you are looking for prospective participants to your session or a roommate to share accommodation during the annual meeting, here is a place to pin your announcement. Or find one. Send your submission to Slawomir Lotysz to have it on the board. It usually takes day or two.
Calls for papers for sessions
Enforced specialization in computing technology:
Debugging the history of cooperation and competition in COMECON countries
We invite you to contribute a paper to a session in the theme 'Craft skill and political power'. Organized by Helena Durnová and Slawomir Lotysz.
Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, abbreviated as COMECON (sometimes also CMEA), was founded in January 1949. Early on, in April 1949, COMECON countries adopted the policy of sharing the results of research and development: each signing country was obliged to make the results of their research available for free to any country that would ask partners for it. Officially, COMECON also declared interest in co-operation with non-COMECON countries. Already in 1952 an agreement had been reached on sharing knowledge and patents when called upon by fellow COMECON members. It seems the importance of expertise was recognised as an important asset and its exchange was forced under the veil of the statement that knowledge belongs to everybody.
In computing technology, a stronger consensus on scientific and technical co-operation was put into actual practice in December 1968 by an initiative that would eventually lead to the production of compatible computers. The new industry, aiming at the production of key technologies, was chosen to foster a new level of “Socialist economic integration”, in one single move strove to level the emergent European Union in terms of economic integration and to meet multinational corporations like IBM in terms of producing large technical systems. To make the co-operation work, different countries were to specialise (and become the experts) in different fields. For example, in the mid-1960, when COMECON countries were beginning to discuss co-operation in producing computers, Czechoslovakia offered its tape readers and Romania was entrusted with the design of the central unit.
The decision to entrust production of certain commodities to one of COMECON countries were often quite irrational. An excellent example of this is the case of Polish-Czechoslovakian collaboration in the production of tractors, where Poles had to give up their newly designed model of Ursus tractor after the communist party members learnt about advantages of the Czechoslovakia Zetor tractor. Engineers in both countries were not happy about this, as one side had worked in vain, while the other was forced to share their know-how. The session will look at how specialisation was promoted (i.e. making some groups of engineers to feel special) and how it was framed with respect to special ties of some of COMECON countries with the Western world (like in Romania-France case). The session will attempt to analyse how the arbitrarily controlled policy of specialisation was confronted (and sometimes disturbed) by some unexpected events, like in the case of Czechoslovakia, which got the Bull licence as a consequence of Prague Spring of 1968 and its unfortunate end, or Polish case of fiber technology developed independently and completely out of any internal task division agreements within COMECON.
If you want to contribute to the session, please contact Helena Durnováhdurnova@ped.muni.cz or Slawomir Lotyszs.email@example.com and submit a 200 - 400-word abstract of your paper proposal and a one-page CV by Sunday, March 11, 2012.
Everlasting Bath: Transnational History of Sauna Culture
You are welcome to contribute a session of the theme Knowing Users: Social Demands in Shaping Technology and Designing Products. Organised by Timo Myllyntaus.
In hectic modern world, we tend to believe that our way of life is modern and our customs dates from fairly recent times. It is supposed that nearly everything has changed since the Middle Ages, and technological development is regarded to reshuffle our living style completely and force to reject practically all traces to the antiquity. Technology is often considered a mighty enemy of traditions. Nevertheless, there is at least one outstanding exception to this pattern.
While native Americans bathed sweat lodges several millennia ago, steamy bathhouses were at the same time common in entire Europe as well. Still a thousand years ago steam baths were quite common all around the northern hemisphere. Only in the Middle Ages, authorities banned public bathhouses in Central Europe in order to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Nevertheless, steamy bathhouses stayed in tact only in sparsely populated eastern peripheries of Europe – from Turkey and Bulgaria to Estonia, Russia and Finland. As the result, this ancient bathing tradition has remained more common in cold and forested Finland than in any other country, and there are almost as many saunas (>2 mill.) as cars: one sauna per two inhabitants. Actually the Finnish sauna has become the common concept for steamy bathhouses although there are considerable cultural and national variations in building constructions and heating technology.
During the past four millennia, building materials, construction techniques and styles of housing have changed several times. These changes have not led to exclude steamy baths from the everyday life of peripheral countries. In contrast, technology has been used to modify physical features of these bath institutions to the current construction conventions and social demands. During millennia and centuries, saunas have changed but they have not vanished. Basic elements of saunas have remained and the pleasure of bathing has been preserved.
Sauna is the case in point how an ancient cultural habit can be persistent in a changing world and technology has been used to preserve a prehistoric custom with constant innovation and modification.
This session will examine and discuss the persistence of sauna culture and the malleability of technology in adapting steam baths to the changing world. Can we find technological determinism or technological momentum in the history of sauna? If there is a path dependence in this case study, is it technological or cultural? The session aims to analyse transnationally the persistence of sauna in a number of countries and if possible in several civilizations. Therefore studies on extinct steam bath cultures are particularly welcome.
Please, contact Timo Myllyntaus (firstname.lastname@example.org) and submit a 200 400-word abstract of your paper proposal and a one-page CV by Friday9 March 2012.
The Invisible Bicycle: New Insights into Bicycle History
Invitation to contribute a session of the theme Knowing Users: Social Demands in
Shaping Technology and Designing Products. Organised by Timo Myllyntaus and Tiina Männistö-Funk.
For more than two decades now, bicycle history has been an active field inside the
history of technology, containing a diversity of studies from detailed accounts on
technological development to social histories of cycling and theoretical approaches on
bicycle use and innovation. Recently, bicycle is also attracting increased attention as a
sustainable means of transport, the historiography of which is of interest in current debates on mobility.
Despite of the ongoing interest and the multitude on historical insights, bicycle history
calls for further research, especially as the bicycle has at some point in time been an
integral part of everyday life and mobility in probably all corners of the world. Many
aspects of bicycle use and technology remain invisible or show only fleeting presence in
the bicycle historiography. Partially this is due to locations that appear peripheral, such
as developing countries and rural areas. But even the Western, urban cycling asks for
more scrutiny, especially during the decades of bicycle’s most intensive use as a means of
transport, from the early 20th century till the1960s. Similarly interesting are the dynamics
of the decline and a new increase in cycling in the second half of the 20th century.
How can we study the history of everyday practices in bicycle use and non-use? Is the
decline of cycling in industrial societies a universal phenomenon? How do the transnational timelines of bicycle history look like? How have technological features and
design influenced on the image and popularity of cycling? Are there “national styles” in
the design and technical characteristics of bicycles? To this session we invite papers on all
aspects of bicycle history, but especially on those so far understudied. We encourage
questioning typical timelines of bicycle history and presenting of alternative histories and
controversial case studies.
Please, contact Timo Myllyntaus (email@example.com) or Tiina Männistö-Funk (firstname.lastname@example.org)
and submit and abstract (200 – 400 words) of your paper and a one-page CV by Friday
9 March 2012.
Eighth Symposium on the Social History of Military Technology
Annual Meeting of the International Congress of the History of Technology
Meeting jointly with the
24th International Congress of the History of Science, Medicine and Technology
Manchester, England, 22–28 July 2013
Proposals are sought for papers to be presented in the Eighth Symposium on the Social History of Military Technology, scheduled for Manchester, England, 22–28 July 2013, as part of the program for the annual meeting of the International Congress of the History of Technology (ICOHTEC), which is meeting jointly with the International Congress of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine. The general theme selected for the 2013 ICHSTM meeting is: Knowledge at Work. For more information about the 2013 ICHSTM conference as a whole, see: www.ichstm2013.com
The history of military technology usually centers on weaponry, warships, fortifications, or other physical manifestations of warfare, emphasizing how they were made or how they worked. Historians have also tended to assume a strictly utilitarian and rational basis for military technological invention and innovation. However necessary they may be, such approaches largely ignore some very important questions. What are the contexts of social values, attitudes, and interests, non-military as well as military, that shape and support (or oppose) these technologies? What are the consequences of gender, race, class, and other aspects of the social order for the nature and use of military technology? Or, more generally: How do social and cultural environments within the military itself or in the larger society affect military technological change? And the indispensable corollary: How does changing military technology affect other aspects of society and culture? In brief, this symposium will address military technology as both agent and object of social change, taking a very broad view that encompasses not only the production, distribution, use, and replacement of weapons and weapon systems, but also communications, logistic, medical, and other technologies of military relevance as well as sciences of military interest.
We seek papers about: (1) representations of weapons as well as weapons themselves, about ideas as well as hardware, about organization as well as materiel; (2) ways in which social class, race, gender, culture, economics, or other extra-military factors have influenced and been influenced by the invention, r&d, diffusion, or use of weapons or other military technologies; (3) the roles that military technologies play in shaping and reshaping the relationships of soldiers to other soldiers; soldiers to military, political, and social institutions; and military institutions to other social institutions, most notably political and economic; and/or (4) historiographical or museological topics that discuss how military technology has been analyzed, interpreted, and understood in other fields, other cultures, and other times. Pre-modern and non-Western topics are particularly welcome.
Your proposal should include four elements:
(1) A short descriptive title.
(2) An abstract of no more than 400 words. As mentioned above, the general conference theme is: Knowledge at Work. The conference CFPs suggests numerous subthemes. If you can do so without unduly distorting your topic, you should make an effort to show how your paper relates to the conference theme or subthemes. THIS IS NOT REQUIRED, but it will be helpful in presenting the proposal for our symposium to the program committee.
(3) A 1-page CV or résumé with your educational and professional employment histories, plus a list of significant publications and/or presentations. You may include other relevant information in the CV, as long as you do not exceed the 1-page limit.
(4) Current contact information for you (including email address). DO NOT SEND YOUR PROPOSAL TO ICOHTEC or ICHSTM. It should be sent to the symposium organizer, Bart Hacker, who will assemble and submit the complete symposium. Proposals must reach the symposium organizer, Bart Hacker, at: <email@example.com>, no later than 10 March 2012. Please note that this deadline is far earlier than the normal ICOHTEC deadline because of ICHSTM requirements.