45th annual meeting in Saint-Étienne (2018)

Panelists sought for the thematic sessions. Please, contact the organizer directly, or, if you have any question, the Chair of the Programme Committee, Timo Myllyntaus.

1) Before Snowden. Technology as a tool of surveillance and intelligence gathering in the 20th century.

Organizer: Miroslaw Sikora, miroslaw.sikora[at]ipn.gov.pl
or miroslaw.sikora[at]yandex.com

Deadline for proposals’ submission: 26 January 2018

In 2013 young but already experienced and promising CIA employee and NSA contractor disclosed to the global public (via media) his classified knowledge about US government’s surveillance on citizens over the past years. The implementation of those clandestine measures had been indeed legally justified as a part of the counter-terrorism policy of security and intelligence authorities. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the Snowden- Affair was massive involvement of high-tech equipment and solutions that made it possible for the US government to get insight into the most sensitive (private) areas of its citizen’s activity.

However, eavesdropping, signal intelligence and cables intercepting, imaginary intelligence and internet espionage was and is applied by the security services worldwide not only against ordinary people, but also against state institution. The surveillance on highest German authorities and other allied governments around the world, that was revealed recently, is just another proof of total dimension of intelligence collection by US spy-agencies nowadays. Though the capabilities of Russian and Chines counterparts gave way to America or UK, these countries (as well as other small ones) are running extensive intelligence operations taking advantage of modern technology. Chines hackers or Russian “trolls” are examples of confrontation in the IT-battlefield. Moreover chemistry and biology emerge as tools of security apparatus. The poisoning of FSB-defector Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 with radioactive polonium-210 is the best example.

However, the technology was a tool of intelligence, espionage and surveillance since the beginning of modern states dating back to the 18th century. First professional security services in France and Great Britain, USA and Russian Empire established in the turn of 19th and 20th centuries involved technical branches responsible for mapping, data storage and processing, miniaturized spy-cameras and weapons. The methods and tactics of using that equipment were developed simultaneously. Furthermore, along with the famous Kevin Mitnick case, the mutual spying among the multinationals competing for global markets became obvious.

The session aims at putting together at least some fragments of studies on the “high-tech in context of security”. It focuses on the 20thcentury, for it was the time when modern security apparatus was formed (already before the First World War) and expanded enormously (throughout the Cold War).

The following aspects are going to be discussed in particular:

  1. The origins of mechanized and automated data processing and data bases for the internal use of state security apparatus in the first half of the 20th century.
  2. Counterintelligence and the development of audiovisual surveillance during the Cold War in the West and in the East.
  3. Photography and documents counterfeiting and production of fake identities as crucial area of interests for the intelligence agencies.
  4. Computer and its role in data transfer, processing, as well as encoding, decoding, code breaking (GCHQ, NSA, FAPSI and the rest).
  5. Safeguard providing with help of biometrics.
  6. Biotechnology in the service of intelligence (collecting of biological profiles etc.).
  7. FBI and KGB. Security culture in the West and in the East during the Cold War.
  8. Technology and political police’s surveillance on societies in Warsaw Pact countries.
  9. “Venona”, U-2 and others – operations that took advantage of high-tech.
  10. Developing countries as fields of high-tech struggle of intelligence services.
  11. Technology in use of opposition movements in communist bloc in 70s-80s.
  12. Avoiding detection. Technology applied by terrorist organizations in Western Europe in 70s-90s.
  13. Public awareness of being constantly observed.
  14. Overwhelming technological possibilities as trigger for paranoia disorders among members of society.
  15. High-tech surveillance leaks and scandals in media coverage throughout the century.

2) The conquest of hydraulic power and its place in the history of mankind
Organizer: Alexandre HERLEA, alexandre.herlea[at]wanadoo.fr
Proposals for papers, an abstract of 200 – 300 words and a one-page CV should be submitted by February 5, 2018, electronically through http://www.icohtec.org/annual-meeting-2018.html.

In a congress of the ICOHTEC in Saint-Etienne - birthplace of the inventor and industrialist Benoît Fourneyron, designer and director of the first hydraulic turbine, seat of the Ecole des Mines where mathematician Claude Burdin, the creator of the word "turbine" taught - it is inconceivable that a session should not be dedicated to hydraulic energy.
It was at the dawn of the first millennium that the first engine, designed by man, capable of making usable on the spot a non-usable energy, the hydraulic wheel, was born. Since hydraulic power has played, and continue to do so, a leading role among the energies used by man. Hydraulic motors have been constantly improved and several categories were created, so that they best correspond to the characteristics of the energy sources they use. The creation of the hydraulic turbine, in 1827, was undoubtedly the most significant development.
Of cause, on the history of hydraulic energy a lot has been written and the main steps have been clearly defined, but it remains always details to bring, details to make known, conclusions to be reviewed. These as well at the levels of the engines themselves as concerning the use and construction of the sources, such as dams and accumulation lakes. The use of these engines in industry, their role in economy, the close technical-economic interdependence that these highlight, are other aspects to be analyzed, dealt with. As are the science and technology relationships in the field of hydraulic energy. These were among the first to be carefully studied and these studies have played a pioneering role in the analysis of science – technology relationships. But the field is still wide open. The study of the history of hydraulic energy and its industry therefore implies a systemic approach which concerns the evolution of hydraulic energy within the technical system, especially in its relations with other energies used by men (thermal, nuclear, other renewable energies) as well as its relations of interdependence with other systems: economic, socio-political, scientific knowledge, ideologies and mentalities, etc. But a prospective look is also welcome, the extrapolation of past developments being a major approach in the technological forecasting, which we need so much today, when the mankind is facing an environmental crisis.

2) (In French) La conquête de l’énergie hydraulique et sa place dans l’histoire de l’humanité
Organizer: Alexandre HERLEA, alexandre.herlea[at]wanadoo.fr

Dans un congrès de l’ICOHTEC à Saint-Etienne - lieu de naissance de l’inventeur et industriel Benoît Fourneyron, concepteur et réalisateur de la première turbine hydraulique, siège de l’Ecole des Mines où a enseigné le mathématicien Claude Burdin, créateur du mot « turbine » - il est inconcevable qu’une session ne soit pas consacrée à l’énergie hydraulique.
C’est à l’aube du premier millénaire que le premier moteur, conçu par l’homme, capable de rendre utilisable sur place une énergie non utilisable telle quelle, la roue hydraulique, a vu le jour. Depuis l’énergie hydraulique a joué, et continue de le faire, un rôle de premier plan parmi les énergies utilisées par l’homme. Les moteurs hydrauliques ont été sans cesse améliorés et plusieurs catégories ont été créées, afin qu’ils correspondent au mieux aux caractéristiques des sources d’énergie qu’ils utilisent. La création de la turbine hydraulique, en 1827, fut sans doute le perfectionnement le plus significatif.
Certes, sur l’histoire de l’énergie hydraulique on a beaucoup écrit et les grandes étapes ont été clairement définies, mais il reste toujours des précisions à apporter, des détails à faire connaitre, des conclusions à revoir. Ceux-ci aussi bien aux niveaux des moteurs eux-mêmes que de l’utilisation et de la construction des sources, tels les barrages et lacs d’accumulation. L’utilisation de ces moteurs dans l’industrie, leur rôle dans l’économie, l’étroite interdépendance technique – économie que ceux-ci mettent en évidence, sont d’autres aspects à être analysés, traités. Comme sont les relations science – technique dans le domaine de l’énergie hydraulique ; celles-ci ont été parmi les premières à être attentivement étudiées et ces études ont joué un rôle pionnier dans l’analyse des relations sciences – technique. Le champs reste pourtant encore largement ouvert.
L’étude de l’histoire de l’énergie hydraulique et de son industrie implique donc une approche systémique qui concerne aussi bien l’évolution de l’énergie hydraulique à l’intérieur du système technique, notamment dans ses relations avec les autres énergies utilisées par l’homme (thermique, nucléaire, autres énergies renouvelables) que dans ses relations d’interdépendance avec les autres systèmes : économique, socio-politique, des connaissances scientifiques, des idéologies et mentalités, etc.
Mais un regard prospectif est aussi le bienvenu, l’extrapolation des évolutions passées étant une principale approche dans la prévision technologique, dont nous avons tellement besoin aujourd’hui, en pleine crise de l’environnement.

3) Turns in the Energy Supply: Past, Present and Future.

Call for Papers to an Energy Session. Sub-theme: Political authority and the power of technology: shaping technology under the pressures of society.

Several times in history, there have happened major shifts in the energy supply. Generally, they have been related to constraints and scarcities of energy resources or problems in their utilisation as well as needs of the economy. When completed, these shifts have had widespread impacts on entire society. At the moment, the humanity is preparing to avert the global warming by reforming the energy supply, which means profound changes in producing and consuming energy. Consequences of these changes tend to cause anxiety. There is need to know how societies earlier managed to cope with comparable changes. The present change has been called “energy transition”, which sounds a nice and easy swap. The session aims to elaborate by various case studies what wide-scale turns in the energy supply may mean in the different spheres of society.

Please, submit your paper proposal with a 200 – 300 word abstract and one-page bio for the session Turns in the Energy Supply: Past, Present and Future to be held in the ICOHTEC symposium in Saint-Étienne by sending it with these appendices to Timo Myllyntaus, moni.mylly[at]gmail.com, no later than Mon. 29 January 2018.

4) Railways in Making Modern Societies. Call for Papers to the Railway History Session

Railways have not served only transporters of passengers and freight. They have at the same time been a result of the changing society and the factor moulding the bases of society. Accordingly, they have had a great impact on shaping society and creating new cultures. It has been claimed that in the 19th century, railways helped unifying divided states, such as Germany and Italy, establishing the position of civil engineers as a profession, expanding the distribution of news-papers and promoting the rest of the printing industry.
This session will examine the railways as a large technological system and critical infrastructure, which was constructed in the interaction with building the modern state apparatus. Consequently, the aim is to study railways and society in the mutual interface. This kind of analysis can be carried out by means of case studies elaborating phenomena in variable circumstances. A clear research question and an explicit comparison of two or more case studies may deepen the research results.

For a session proposal, we need 3-4 paper abstracts and a discussant per one 90-minute time slot. Our session proposal can include 1 – 4 time slots. Paper proposals can deal with theme related to railways and/or traveling by trains in the past, present or future. They can be authored and pre-sented by one or several scholars. In ICOHTEC symposia, each author can present personally only one paper but can co-author several papers, and also act as a discussant and chair in several sessions. Please, send your 200 – 300-word abstract and one-page bio/cv to Timo Myllyntaus (moni.mylly[at]gmail.com) by Monday 22 January 2018.

5) West - East Transfer of Technology During the Cold War

Call for Papers to Technology Transfer Session. Organizer: ICOHTEC Program Commitee. Contact: Timo Myllyntaus, moni.mylly[at]gmail.com

The history of transferring knowledge and technology between East and West, socialist and capitalist, big and small states has attracted many researchers. Current historiography proposes new sources and approaches studying various forms of transfer on different levels, emphasizing not only conventional trade flows from West to East, but vice versa as well as other more or less unofficial forms of technology mobility. They include communication between scientists, attending exhibitions and conferences as well as copying patented innovations and industrial espionage among other channels of transfer, which demonstrate the permeability of geographical, state, cultural, political, social, and institutional borders. This permeability was also attested during the Cold War, results of which demonstrate the significance of East and West transfers and as Karen Freeze puts it in her article on Czechoslovak theatre technologies and their move westward: “we may conclude that the Iron Curtain was more permeable than previously thought”. Consequently, technology transfer opens a wide and challenging field of research. Apart explaining movements and exchange of technologies, transfers explicate social, political and cultural transformations they entail and serve for. They also help explain communication of different actors on governmental, institutional, company and individual levels.

Proposals for papers, an abstract of 200 – 300 words and a one-page CV should be submitted by February 5, 2018, electronically through http://www.icohtec.org/annual-meeting-2018.html

6) Plastics, Emotions and Consumer Society

Synthetic polymeric materials and their precursors comprising moulding materials (plastics), rubbers, fibres, lacquers and adhesives, generate quite different feelings and opinions from their first onset. On the one hand, since their emergence, especially in World War I, they were often recognised as cheap mass products, partially replacing valuable or rare materials (‘Ersatzstoffe’). On the other hand, they took over already from the beginning their fundamental role as promoters of most important technical developments such as e. g. the electrical industry. Without the new fantastic materials, the modern civilising and social progress of mankind would not have been possible. Between these fixed-points, no other group of substances has been provoked such strong emotions of refusal and approval, hate and love as synthetic polymeric materials.
Today, synthetic plastics (moulding materials), rubbers, fibres, lacquers and adhesives are ubiquitous. Their effect on consumer societies is linked with the technical progress but also with increasing environmental impacts. Plastics in all its variations play a tremendous role in our daily consumer life, in high-tech developments but also in environmental situations, all causing strong emotions.
How people are socially connected with synthetic polymeric materials? And why do they respond in such different perceptions?
In this panel, we intend to explore different point of views of the relationship between society and those synthetic materials.

We welcome proposals for papers which may concern with, but are not limited to:

  1. illustrating the historic development of social ‘attraction’ and ‘repulsion’ of synthetic polymeric materials and precursors,
  2. analysing the role of plastics in consumer societies,
  3. discussing consumer’s product choices in a historical perspective,
  4. investigatingthe circumstances of creating emotional effects on these materials,
  5. investigating how emotions configurate narratives and discussions on synthetic polymeric materials.

Please send your abstract of up to 300 words and one page CV until 1 February 2018 to until 1 February 2018 to:

  • Maria Elvira Callapez, CIUHCT- Faculdade Ciências Universidade Lisboa
  • Guenter Lattermann, German Society for Plastics History,
    (guenter.lattermann[at]uni-bayreuth.de), and
  • Stefan Poser, Helmut Schmidt Universitaet, Hamburg, (poser[at]hsu-hh.de).








Page updated: 20 January 2018