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New ICOHTEC Newsletter  No 46: January 2009


Dear Colleagues and Friends,

This year I intend to open a new field of the newsletter by publishing reports on conferences. The following report on the workshop “The Socialist Car” might be interesting for many ICOHTEC Members; therefore I have chosen it nevertheless the conference was held in summer. If you have a report on a conference you organised please feel free to submit it for publishing.

Best wishes
Yours Stefan Poser



I. Conference Reports 
II. Future Conferences
III. Summer Schools
IV. Call for Contributions

I. Conference Reports

The Socialist Car, Workshop of the Berlin School for Comparative European History and the German Historical Institute of Moscow in June 2008
By Mark Keck-Szajbel, Late Modern European History, UC Berkeley

Despite a large and growing corpus of research on the production, the cultural meaning, and the proliferation of the personal automobile, East Europe has generally been left out of the history of automobility. A workshop hosted by the Berlin School for Comparative European History (BKVGE), as well as the German Historical Institute of Moscow was held in Berlin on 13-14 June 2008 to discuss and analyse this gap in historiography. Participants from Europe and North America convened to attempt to define “the Socialist Car.” At root of this endeavour might be one overarching question: Which lexeme should be enunciated when discussing “the Socialist Car?” In other words, are these narratives about how state socialism informs us about the car? Or are they about how the car informs us about state socialism?
Papers presented at the workshop had a clear tendency to focus on the later, and one could argue, for due reason. The automobile functioned as an extremely valued commodity in a shortage economy, and for that reason, the availability and the ownership of automobiles in state socialism created a plethora of new, dynamic relationships in a closed society.

Papers concentrated on the car in post-Stalin East Central Europe, and specifically revolved around three general themes: first, papers centring on Rezeptionsgeschichte of cars in socialism asked how automobility was perceived by officials and citizens after the push to produce cars intended for individual ownership en masse; secondly, papers centring on discourse history inquired about how cars were presented, and why the personal car came to take on the characteristics it did in state socialism; finally, papers focusing on the consumption of mobility looked to place the personal car into the field of consumption history.

One might beg to question why countries – that is, both leaders and citizens – in the Soviet bloc pushed for mass automobility in the late 1950s. NORDICA NETTLETON was most succinct in suggesting that after World War II, the death of Stalin, the fading of Revolutionary ideals, and with the rise of the Soviet Union as the only other superpower, a new social contract was forged between the regime and citizens. Promising to overtake and surpass the West inherently created a comparison with the capitalists beyond the Elbe, as the West began to offer more cars to more people, a (would-be morally and economically) superior Soviet model would have to be adopted. But citizens of the state would also have to be informed about the situation in the West. This was done, as Nettleton explains, through a variety of media: exhibitions, magazine and newspaper articles, movies and films, and word of mouth translated (obviously ‘invented’) views of western automobilism to the masses. Although Khrushchev had devised a mass car-rental system, not only was the everyday man biased towards personal ownership, the political elite were so, as well. Paradoxically, as our discussions revealed, the official rhetoric of the socialist alternative to private ownership was met with poor funding and ill-management.

Of course, there were many variations to the Soviet model. If the Soviet Union moved towards the promise of personal ownership, the opposite was the case in Poland, where, as MARIUSZ JASTRZĄB suggested, the vocabulary and official perceptions of private car ownership were by-and-large a residue of the inter-War period. Polish authorities and the intellectual elite believed that personal cars were primarily used for entertainment, and it was not until the early 1970s that official rhetoric shifted to acknowledge the instrumental importance of personal cars. On the one hand, saving for cars meant that there was less money available to consume other goods, and on the other, the process of attaining a car in Poland ensured that citizens would ‘try to be good;’ supplications for cars, as Jastrząb writes, were similar to supplications to feudal lords. But the discrepancy between the promise of an everyman’s car and the process of purchasing a car revealed the chaotic and unsystematic approach authorities had in dealing with the new commodity.

While Poland was slow to accept the personal automobile as a must-have, East Germany – as LUMINITA GATEJEL and ELI RUBIN discussed in their respective papers – was forced to compete with its western counterpart and the National Socialist legacy, both of which created and maintained a view of the automobile as a good which should be available to the common Joe. In building the ‘first socialist state on German soil,’ East German planners hoped to create alternatives to the Volkswagen. They also hoped to build living environments ‘with a human face;’ in the case of the Marzahn settlement in East Berlin, architects hoped to realize an alternative to suburban automobility which was increasingly indicative of so many cities in the West. By building a settlement according to the needs of its inhabitants, Marzahn would eliminate the necessity of cars altogether. But the “car-less” settlement was plagued with a lack of parking spaces, not to mention the difficulties the police, fire department, and ambulances had arriving to the emergency.

Car consumers in East Germany, as in every country in the Soviet Bloc, had to cope with a chronic lack of spare parts and mechanic shops. KURT MÖSER examined the consequences of shortage. “Autobasteln,” or the practice of working and improving one’s car, meant that automobile-owning citizens had to learn the inroads of do-it-yourself. But tinkering with one’s car was also a “use;” in his work, Möser argued that a history of the socialist car has to include the time (and knowledge) necessary to maintain the vehicle. Whereas in the West tinkering was increasingly a past-time hobby – that is, a ‘pleasure’ – in the East it was a crucial element of car culture, and the politics of cars. Whereas popular magazines (and presumably the authorities) supported the idea of owners building a camping table for the summer vacation, or a rack to carry goods, they looked down upon the equivalent of hot-rodding or extravagant alterations.

LEWIS SIEGELBAUM’s paper on car culture in the post-Stalinist USSR similarly examined the way in which motorists interacted with their cars, and in which other people connected with the car. Though the personal car was not officially projected as a must-have, a large percentage of citizens felt that they would and should have a car in the future. But obstacles in attaining and maintaining the car created (almost always masculine) social and economic networks that paralleled official ones; as Siegelbaum puts it, they functioned “on the side,” although they did not necessarily symbolize resistance to an oppressive regime. Rather, they were, in form if not in content, tangential to the rise of the mass automobile in a society which had yet to substantially meet the infrastructural and material demands inherent in automobility.
CORINNA KUHR-KOROLEV asked if it makes sense to elaborate on the history of women and cars in the Soviet society, when almost no women drove (cars) in the USSR. She revealed how, even if mothers and wives were virtually prohibited from getting behind the wheel, social practices emerged around the car which incorporated the entire family. Using a variety of personal photographs and magazine images, she showed on the one hand how the car became intimately associated with the history of the family, and on the other how female Russian drivers now use the car as a form of liberation – despite negative perceptions of the ‘new woman’ behind the wheel.

If Siegelbaum and Kuhr-Korolev were primarily focused on everyday networks which arose from the ownership of a car – or, in other words, on those who had – GYÖRGY PÉTERI’s interests revolved around those who had none. His research translated prevalent perceptions of mass mobilization through the rich genre of caricature in one satirical magazine in Hungary. By interpreting messages embedded in the pages of Ludas Matyi, Péteri revealed not only how automobility was projected (and, as he would have it, perceived on the ground) as a largely negative force in terms of familial relations, pedestrians’ sense of security, public etiquette, social inequality, etc., he also went a step further to argue that the political and social elite saw automobility and the personal car as a crucial element in forging ahead on the path to socialism, all the while expressing little interest or concern towards the development of public transport.

That there were a variety of different paths towards automobility in the Soviet Bloc is a realization that, in and of itself, is not a new finding. However, as LUMINITA GATEJEL argued, socialist countries converged at some point along the path towards automobility. Artificially high prices, long waiting lists, the precarious relationship between automobile lovers interested in Western cars and authorities who – despite adopting Western models themselves – shunned fetishism of products from their imperialist other are common characteristics of each socialist country (in Gatejel’s case, Romania, East Germany, and the USSR), even if there were significant temporal disparities.

But was the proliferation of automobile know-how unilateral, moving from the West to the East? As two of the discussants revealed, not always. The Kama Automobile Zavod, or KamAZ trucks were (and are) valued commodities throughout the world, and the factory worked closely with international partners. However, building the plant in the 1970s necessarily disrupted the lives of the inhabitants of Naberezhnye Chelny. ESTHER MEIER related the story of many of these inhabitants, who on the one hand identified themselves through the huge production plant, and others who tried to remember the past of a vanishing village where KamAZ was built. Provocatively, she compared the discourse of the construction of KamAZ with colonial discourses. Soviet officials claimed the production factory was built on virgin soil, and workers were given a slogan to chant: “We build KamAZ, and KamAZ builds us.” But many Russians and especially Tatars disputed the slogan; whereas KamAZ was built by them, they did not identify themselves solely through the factory. KamAZ might have been a window to the West, but the factory was not the home.

Similar to KamAZ with its international partners, Fiat fostered a close business relationship with the Soviet Union and many other Comecon countries. VALENTINA FAVA’s research analysed the decision on the one hand to sell, on the other to purchase the license of the Fiat 124 in 1966. This so-called “deal of the century” was negotiated on relatively equal terms: Fiat realized the value of expanding their market, and pushed to sell their small but technologically advanced model to the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was also looking to buy a model which they could modify and perfect, with the understanding that through Soviet creativity and industriousness, the Fiat 124 could become a hallmark of Soviet culture and know-how.

One of the workshop’s aims was to analyse the similarities and differences comparatively within the East Bloc during state socialism. But the inclusion of a specialist of western mobility history proved to be very fruitful and crucial to understanding the specificity of ‘socialist automobility.’ GIJS MOM’s overview of the historiography raised fundamental questions about the rise of the automobile: why was the automobile received so well, and why has individual motorization persisted despite rational arguments against it? Mom also provided evidence to prove how the notion of the car’s ‘necessity’ was not only a convenient myth emerging in the 1930s, but also that discussion of the car’s ‘usefulness’ emerged with an upcoming habit of consumerism and increasing leisure practices. Hence, Mom suggested that ‘necessity’ be interpreted as a ‘social practice’ of consumption, and that mobility history be written as a history of consumption. He also urged overcoming the national when writing history of mobility.

Which brings us back to the initial point of departure: should cars tell us about socialism, or should socialism tell us about cars? Of course that is a rhetorical question, and cannot be answered in any satisfying fashion. But as Mom frequently pointed out, many of the papers and panels had an underlining tendency to talk about an eastern (or socialist) exceptionalism, even in instances where the story is a common (European, modern) one. For methodological reasons, he suggested using the car as a lens on modern society, and not building a niche. Doing so would help readjust the contours of automobilism, which not only has yet to fully include Eastern Europe, but also has much to learn about the form and nature of the push towards mobility consumption, as the workshop has shown.
SERGEI ZHURAVLEV closed the workshop with a discussion about the methodological problems of studying socialist automobility: It is not exactly a history from above, and not from below, rather, to adopt Siegelbaum’s term, “on the side.” Zhuravlev pointed out the strengths of the workshop: it incorporated production history, social history, and cultural history in one degree or another. But the political side of the story was, he suggested, not complete. What rules, he asked, were created to cope with the car at the political level? In addition, there was little discussion about path dependency: in the Soviet Union, and certainly in many other socialist countries, there was no evolution from the horse, to the bike, to the motorbike, to the car (or, as it is also paradoxically called in Russian, the “iron horse”); what type of psychological impact did this rapid transition have on individuals? Equally as important is the dichotomy between the urban and the rural: how did the socialist landscape incorporate vehicles, and how did it contrast, for example, from Moscow, Warsaw, or Prague? What about the social component, in terms not of ownership, but of users? He pointed to the fact that many owners had chauffeurs; military personnel drove the vehicles of their higher-ups; relatives came to understand the automobile as belonging to the entire family. Did driving tactics change depending on one’s status? Technologically, it is still perplexing why car technology could not be maintained by a superpower which could keep up and succeed in terms of space and military technology. While the state was very interested in cultivating fertile ground for successes in space – by inviting scholars, and encouraging critical feedback at all levels – we do not know how much incentive there was for everyday users or common factory workers to make suggestions for automotive improvements.

Of course, as Zhuravlev closed, the problem is clear: the history of automobility in Eastern Europe demands the use of numerous fields and methodologies, and hence a “universal researcher” seems to be required. But it is precisely at this intersection of fields that the specificity of “the Socialist Car” is enunciated. The organizers of the workshop hope to develop the papers presented at this and previous workshops in order to publish a volume on “the Socialist Car.”

Conference Overview:
Introduction - Lewis Siegelbaum, Luminita Gatejel, Corinna Kuhr-Korolev

SESSION I Moderator: Luminita Gatejel
Gijs Mom, "Car Consumption History: A State-of-the-Art Overview"
Lewis Siegelbaum, "On the Side: Car Culture in the USSR, 1960s-1980s"

SESSION II Moderator: Manfred Hildermeier
Luminita Gatejel, "The Common Heritage of the Socialist Car Culture"
Mariusz Jastrzab, "Allocating Cars to Potential Buyers: Rulers, Preferences, and Strategies of Obtaining Cars in Poland"

SESSION III Moderator: Lewis Siegelbaum
György Peteri, "Private Cars and the 'Socialist Mode of Consumption' in Post-1956 Hungary"
Eli Rubin, "Reading Traffic Flows in Berlin's Karl-Marx-Allee, Landsberger Allee, and Allee der Kosmonauten"

SESSION IV Moderator: Luminita Gatejel
Esther Meier, "'We Build KamAZ, and KamAZ Builds Us.' Soviet Workers in
Naberezhnye Chelny/Tatarstan
Kurt Möser, "'Autobasteln': Modifying, Maintaining and Repairing Private
Cars in the GDR, 1970-1990"
Valentina Fava, "The 'Deal of the Century': Fiat and the USSR, 1966"

SESSION V Moderator: Lewis Siegelbaum
Nordica Nettleton, "Bridging Private and Public: The Role of Cars in Soviet Politics"
Corinna Kuhr-Korolev, "Women and Cars in Soviet and Post-Soviet

FINAL SESSION Discussant: Sergei Zhuravlev
General Discussion
The conference report “The Socialist Car”. 13.06.2008-14.06.2008, Berlin, was published first in: H-Soz-u-Kult, 17.07.2008, http://hsozkult.geschichte.hu-berlin.de/tagungsberichte/id=2191

II. Future Conferences

26 – 27 February 2009
Flotte, Funk und Fliegen - Leittechnologien der Wilhelminischen Epoche (1888 - 1918). Technikgeschichtliche Jahrestagung des VDI 2009
Please find the program on: http://www.vdi.de/41143.0.html

18 – 22 March 2009
SPA - Sanitas Per Aquam - Internationales Frontinus-Symposium zur Technik- und Kulturgeschichte der antiken Thermen /International Frontinus Symposium on the History of Technology and Culture of Thermae in Ancient Roman Periode
Frontinus-Gesellschaft e. V. Historisches Institut der RWTH Aachen Landschaftverband Rheinland / Rheinisches Amt für Bodendenkmalpflge Stadt Aachen Stadt Zülpich, Bonn
Please find the program on: http://www.frontinus.de/
Please contact: Claudia Castell-Exner / Petra Fricke, Frontinus-Gesellschaft e. V., info@frontinus.de 

27 – 29 March 2009
Midwest Junto for the History of Science and Technology 52nd Annual Meeting
The Linda Hall Library of Science
Kansas City
CFP – Deadline 27 February 2009

We welcome short papers (15 minutes) on topics in the history and philosophy of science, technology, and medicine. Please submit abstracts electronically (300 words maximum) by February 27, 2009, to junto@lindahall.org. Graduate students are strongly encouraged to participate (special registration rate and subsidy possible).
For more information and conference details, go to http://www.history.iastate.edu/junto.shtml.
For additional information, please contact the program committee at Junto@lindahall.org.

3 – 4 April 2009
Objects of Knowledge, Objects of Exchange: Contours of (Inter)disciplinarity
Mellon Graduate Student Conference
Humanities Center – Harvard University Cambridge, MA
CFP – Deadline 15 February 2009

As fields of knowledge production, circulation, and consumption, academic disciplines and their intersections are privileged arenas in which to examine the emergence of objects of knowledge, their contestation and circulation. However, disciplines are themselves artefacts, engaged in processes of mutation and consolidation, among many others. How does a discipline or a field of study define its object, and how is it reciprocally defined by it? Are objects of knowledge extant entities, or defined entirely by their construction within overlapping fields and processes of knowledge? How does theory contest or reinforce objectifying processes? Can objects of knowledge be said to circulate - as text, image, written or recorded music, oral traditions and practices of habitation/embodiment, or, equally, physical and social formations, subatomic particles, etc. - and by what attributes and effects may they be known? How is the identification (or instantiation) of such objects to take place? What are the dynamics and consequences of identification and/or specification in this context, and are they desirable? What are the pitfalls of transactional models of the movement and circulation of ideas, and how might alternative models be formulated? Beyond narratives of progress, how do systematic or contingent understandings of the elaboration of thought attempt to break with teleological formulations? Are processual methodologies and/or immanent criticism successful in withdrawing themselves from a progressivist frame, and is or would such a withdrawal be desirable?
This conference will seek to interrogate the contours of interdisciplinarity through discussion focused around objects of knowledge in their constitution, negotiation, and exchange. We invite paper proposals from across the disciplines (including, but not limited to, the natural and social sciences, humanities, and the arts).

Please submit an abstract (200-300 words) and a cover letter, in which you briefly explain your reasons for attending the conference and state how the paper is relevant to your research. In the letter, state whether you are eligible for transportation reimbursement. Co-authored papers are welcome. Email to: info@objectsofknowledge.org.
For more information please visit: http://objectsofknowledge.org/
Please contact: info@objectsofknowledge.org

6 – 7 May 2009
Katastrophen machen Geschichte - umwelthistorische Prozesse im Spannungsfeld von Ressourcennutzung und Extremereignissen. / Disasters shaping History, DFG Graduiertenkolleg "Interdisziplinäre Umweltgeschichte" (Universität Göttingen), Göttingen
CFP – Deadline 15 February 2009

Please visit: http://www.anthro.uni-goettingen.de/gk/
Please contact Patrick Masius, pmasius@gwdg.de

5 – 7 June 2009
Depot und Plattform: Bildarchive im post-fotografischen Zeitalter. Archives of Photos in the Post-Photo Period
Sektion Geschichte und Archive der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Photographie (DGPh) in Kooperation mit der Professur für Geschichte und Theorie der Fotografie an der Universität Duisburg-Essen, Köln
Museum für Angewandte Kunst in Köln
CFP – Deadline 8 March 2009

Please visit: http://hsozkult.geschichte.hu-berlin.de/termine/id=10729
Please contact Herta Wolf, Professur für Geschichte und Theorie der Fotografie an der Universität Duisburg-Essen, office.wolf@uni-due.de 

17 – 19 June 2009
Buildings: Technologies or Interactions? Exploring the Intersections between Architectural Theory and the Social Sciences
Zentrum für interdisziplinäre Forschung (ZiF) Bielefeld
CFP – Deadline passed (15 December 2009)

The workshop explores the role of buildings as stabilisation of society in theoretical and historical perspective. Many disciplines engaged with buildings implicitly or explicitly understand buildings as a kind of technology that (should) stabilize, form, direct or influence interactions and thus society. Whether the impact of buildings is attributed to the hands or thoughts of designers to enable or hinder people do something or whether these are the concepts of architectural or social theory: Buildings are not only aesthetic objects from different stylistic and regional environments but also objects that link to their users. The workshop attempts to theorize these links and the different traditions that brought fourth those links.

For more information please visit: http://hsozkult.geschichte.hu-berlin.de/termine/id=10495   Please contact Michael Guggenheim, ethnologisches Seminar der Universität Zürich,  gug@ethno.uzh.ch


2 – 5 August 2009
International Conference on History of Chemistry (7th ICHC)
Sopron, Ungary
CFP – Deadline 15 February 2009

Dear Colleague, The Working Party (WP) on History of Chemistry of the European Association for Chemical and Molecular Sciences (EuCheMS) and the Hungarian Chemical Society cordially invite you to participate at the next bi-annual International Conference on History of Chemistry (7th ICHC) taking place in Sopron, Hungary, from 2-5 August 2009.
The 7th ICHC will immediately follow the 23rd International Congress of History of Science and Technology (23rd ICHST) held from 28 July-2 August 2009 in Budapest, Hungary. At this Congress hundreds of historians of science and technology will meet around the central congress theme 'Ideas and Instruments in Social Context.'

The 7th ICHC will focus on the theme of "the uses of chemistry (and alchemy)", which covers both the practical uses of chemistry and the cultural consumption of chemistry. A major aim of the conferences organised by the WP is to facilitate communication between historically interested chemists and historians of chemistry from all over Europe.

Further information about registration, deadlines for the 7th ICHC can be found at the conference website www.chemhist2009.mke.org.hu. Please note that the deadline for abstract submission has been extended to 15 February 2009.
E-mail: chemhist2009@mke.org.hu.

We look forward to your participation at this important event.

Peter Morris, Programme Committee chair

Éva Vámos, Local Committee chair

Ernst Homburg, Chairman of the EuCheMS Working Party on History of Chemistry

Please contact us via chemhist2009@mke.org.hu.

8-11 September 2009
Food and War in Europe in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
International Commission for Research into European Food History (ICREF), 2009
CFP – Deadline 31 March 2008

ICREFH has held biennial symposia since 1989 on various aspects of European food history, each of which has resulted in the publication of a book of the papers given. To date nine volumes are in print and a tenth is in preparation. These symposia are notable for the use of pre-circulated papers so that sessions consist of workshop-type discussions. In consequence ICREFH symposia have developed a reputation for friendly criticism and co-operation. ICREFH’s Eleventh Symposium will be held in Paris early in September 2009.

The provisional title of the Symposium is “Food and War in Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries”, a topic which has been under consideration at the last two ICREFH meetings. The aim of this Symposium will be to shed some light on the question of how wars, food supply and consumption are interrelated. We hope contributors will ask whether the special circumstances of war resulted in the development of new eating and drinking customs and patterns. A common view is that wars lead to privation and shortages but we also want to consider how wars helped to promote new foods and lead to the substitution of others. We shall be interested to discuss whether or not wars helped new consumption patterns to develop: did war provoke the development of gendered eating styles; did it stabilize male and female consumption patterns or did it destabilize them? What long-term effects of wartime foods on public health can be observed in Europe? Did governments try to learn from these experiences and did war-time experience influence health policy after the end of war?

During the last two decades, food history has elaborated the basic development of food supply and food consumption. It has often been summarized as explaining the development from scarcity to abundance. But this development has not been as linear as the overall narrative suggests and ICREFH has explored the social and cultural factors by which knowledge of food has been transmitted from one generation to another. Wars have not so far been the subject of ICREFH’s consideration in any detail: yet they are not only interruptions of normal life; they influence the daily life and cultural developments deeply. Indeed, the World Wars in the twentieth century brought severe ruptures and breaks for food production and distribution which necessitated the improvisation of substitutes and alternative methods of manufacture. War brought about long lasting effects upon the economic structure of the food industry and the food policy of respective governments, not only with regard to protective standards for the quality of food consumed by their populations but also measured by changes in the individual food habits of the people. Moreover, it was during the two World wars and their aftermath that European governments developed food policy programmes, including rationing systems and health surveys.

Historians have been well aware of the negative influences of wartime upon food but they have widely neglected the longer lasting effects on health status and on consumption patterns and eating customs. Even the food of the armies, the organization of the army’s food supply and the role of the nutritional sciences for the planning of rations have been almost completely disregarded by food historians so far. However, army rations were conceived as a possible way of getting people used to better and healthier food, and as a means of educating the mostly young men who made up the armed forces. The army has also been an initiator of innovations: some of the food items and commodities that we take for granted today have been developed especially for the army in times of war as, for example, tinned food, instant soups and dried foods. As long as their production was too costly for normal civilians, the armies served as a field for experimentation and for the gathering of experience of production and the reaction of consumers. In doing so, they served as a kind of test market and created the possibility of developing methods of cheap mass production in order to lower prices. This helped to make new food products cheaper, so that they could be integrated into normal diets after the war had ended.
The proposed topic for ICREFH XI seems, therefore, to offer opportunities for many food historians to contribute to a discourse with wide comparative perspectives in European food studies. To stimulate discussion at the Symposium, contributors should address one or more of the following research questions in their papers. Papers should not only describe the development of particular topics, but should also assess the short and long term consequences which affect nutritional habits of today.
Papers may be offered in one of the four following sub-themes.
(1) Food allocation, food shortages and rationing in time of war:
(2) Alternative strategies for consumers:
(3) The social and health implications of wartime food consumption:
(4) Innovations in food supply and technology during war time:

Anyone wishing to propose a paper for ICREFH XI should complete the Application Form and send it back together with an abstract of up to 200 word.

Please visit: http://hsozkult.geschichte.hu-berlin.de/termine/id=8831
Please contact: adrouard01@noos.fr 

17 – 18 September 2009
Neue Technologien / New Technologies
Deutsches Museum München
CFP – Deadline 28 February 2009
Please contact: Christian Kehrt, Deutsches Museum, Institut für Wissenschafts- und Technikgeschichte, c.kehrt@deutsches-museum.de


24–25 September 2009
Telecommunication and Globalization: Information Flows in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Conference of the Junior Research Group “Asymmetries in Cultural Information Flows: Europe and South Asia in the Global Information Network since the Nineteenth Century” (headed by Dr Roland Wenzlhuemer) at the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context”, University of Heidelberg.
Heidelberg, Germany
CFP – Deadline 30 April 2009

Globalisation challenges the established relationship between time and space and detaches human interaction from co-locality or proximity. By bringing geographically distant and socio-culturally diverse places in touch, it creates a placeless global sphere. When its constituting transregional connections and transfers become numerous and significant enough, this sphere develops a rationale of its own and starts to interact with the local. Globalisation becomes a historically relevant process that has a formative impact on local life and culture.
By enabling ever-increasing flows of information and knowledge which connect people over great geographic and cultural distances, telecommunication technologies have played and continue to play a key role in processes of globalisation. The emergence during the nineteenth and early twentieth century of a global telecommunication network significantly altered the nature of human communication and represented a vital phase in the history of global connections. For the first time in history, long-distance communication became “dematerialized”, i.e. it became detached from the physical medium which enabled its transmission.

This workshop invites scholars and students in the humanities and social sciences to explore the complex interrelations between telecommunication technologies and globalisation in a historical and socio-cultural perspective. The focus of the workshop rests on the emergence of a global network of telegraph and telephone lines during the nineteenth and early twentieth century and its impact on various domains of human activity, such as government, administration, trade, transport, commerce, labour, news, language, and knowledge production.

Potential questions to be explored include:

  • Which socio-economic and cultural factors contributed to the emergence of particular global network patterns?
  • What was the role of telecommunication in linking the global and the local? How did it change the rationale of the global sphere?
  • How did new telecommunication technologies transform existing perceptions of time and space?
  • How were the global and the local negotiated through telecommunication technologies? In what ways did agents in non-information societies adopt and adapt foreign (i.e. European/North American) information technologies to their own ends? How did such developments in the field of technology and colonial enterprise impact upon European societies?
  • Did technologies shape their own networks? And how did emerging communication patterns impact upon the development of the technology itself?
  • Can we find asymmetries in global network patterns and information flows? Did less-connected regions automatically find themselves at the receiving end of information flows?
  • Can we find evidence for processes of political and cultural centralization? If so, have there been counterstrategies in order to preserve the influence and leeway of agents in the periphery?
  • How did these new technologies impact upon news collection and distribution? How did they change pre-existing ideas and practices of networking?
  • What was the impact of these new communication technologies on language and cultural perceptions of language? How did they contribute to processes of language standardization and language globalisation?

Proposals of not more than 500 words may be submitted electronically (Word or PDF) to the organizing committee (Amelia Bonea, bonea@asia-europe.uni-heidelberg.de and Paul Fletcher, fletcher@asia-europe.uni-heidelberg.de) by 30 April 2009. For further inquiries, please contact the organizing committee.

Please visit: http://www.asia-europe.uni-heidelberg.de/Plone/research/areas/b/projects/b9-information-flows
Please contact: Amelia Bonea, bonea@asia-europe.uni-heidelberg.de  and Paul Fletcher, fletcher@asia-europe.uni-heidelberg.de

24 – 27 September 2009
Symposium on Knowledge and Ideology. Annual Meeting of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Geschichte der Medizin, Naturwissenschaft und Technik e.V. / Gesellschaft für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Hannover
Medizinische Hochschule Hannover
CFP – Deadline 31 March 2009

Please visit: http://hsozkult.geschichte.hu-berlin.de/termine/id=10720
Please contact Sabine Schleiermacher, Institut für Geschichte der Medizin Charité, Forschungsschwerpunkt Zeitgeschichte, sabine.schleiermacher@charite.de 

30 – 31 October 2009
Understanding Markets: Information, Institutions and History
Sponsored by the Hagley Museum and Library and German Historical Institute
Wilmington, Delaware
CFP – Deadline 31 March 2009

To recognize the contributions of Austrian immigrant and market analyst Ernest Dichter, and to celebrate the opening of his rich business records, the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, Delaware and German Historical Institute in Washington D.C. jointly invite proposals for the conference, “Understanding Markets: Information, Institutions and History” October 30 and 31, 2009 at Hagley.
Since markets are not transparent to those engaged in them, and change continually over time, understanding markets is a complex process that involves a wide range of individuals and institutions. This conference invites historically-grounded contributions that explore the practices and institutions through which such efforts have proceeded in Europe and North America, ca. 1750-2000. Papers may consider many aspects of efforts to understand markets, such as the acquisition, dissemination, cost and reliability of information; institutionalisation of research activities; the impact of secrecy, deception, bias, and misinformation; the influence of market research on production and marketing decisions; conceptual or theoretical foundations and assumptions; and instructive failures or informative successes. We encourage proposals to address who was engaged in efforts to understand markets, whether individuals such as salesmen, merchants, researchers, or purchasing officers; organizations, including firms, agencies, and consortia; or third party institutions, e.g. trade associations, information providers, and governments. The conveners are Roger Horowitz and Philip Scranton from the Hagley Museum and Library and Hartmut Berghoff and Uwe Spiekermann from the German Historical Institute.

Proposals should be no more than 500 words and accompanied by a short cv. Deadline for submissions is March 31, 2009. Travel support is available for those presenting papers at the conference. To submit a proposal or to obtain more information, please contact Carol Lockman, Hagley Museum and Library, clockman@Hagley.org.

15–19 October 2009
2009 Annual Conference of the Society for the History of Technology, SHOT
CFP – Deadline 30 March 2009

The Society for the History of Technology will hold its annual meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 15–19 October 2009. The Program Committee invites paper and panel proposals on any topic in the history of technology, broadly defined. Sessions dealing with pre-19th century technologies are particularly welcome. Of special interest for 2009 are proposals that engage the two following themes:

Reform(ed) Technologies: While Pittsburgh often brings to historically-prone minds images of coke works and heavy industrial pollution, the city is consistently ranked high in livability surveys of American cities, and smokestacks no longer dominate the skyline. At a moment when decaying infrastructure is a major topic of public discussion and large promised investment, Pittsburgh looks the right place for historians of technology to reconsider linear tales of innovation or destruction. We are interested both in the ways technologies are reformed and on the historical development of technologies for reform. Environmental technologies are an obvious topic, but the theme also welcomes contributions on urban renewal, new uses of old technologies, and issues of maintenance.

Circulation of Technology: We encourage proposals dealing with the geographical circulation of technology that discard traditional diffusion models. We are interested in the relevance of local contexts to accounts of how technologies circulate at the global scale. We hope that focused engagement with such questions will also contribute to SHOT’s ongoing efforts to build a more inclusive and diverse cosmopolitan community.

The Program Committee's highest priority in evaluating paper and panel proposals is scholarly excellence. The Committee welcomes proposals for individual papers or sessions, as well as works-in-progress from researchers of all stripes (including graduate students, chaired professors, and independent scholars). It welcomes proposals from those new to SHOT, regardless of discipline. Multinational, international, and cross-institutional sessions are also desirable. We especially encourage proposals from non-Western scholars. For the 2009 meeting the Program Committee also encourages unconventional sessions; that is. session formats that vary in useful ways from the typical three/four papers with comment. These might include round-table sessions, workshop-style sessions with papers that are pre-circulated electronically, or "author meets critics" sessions. Panel organizers may choose either to have a commentator or to add one more paper. We also welcome poster proposals for presentation in poster sessions.

The deadline for proposals is March 30, 2009. Please submit your proposals to tiago.saraiva@ics.ul.pt

Proposals for individual papers must include:
1. a one-page abstract (maximum 600 words)
2. a one-page curriculum vitae, including current postal and e-mail addresses
Proposals for complete sessions must include:
1. a description of the session that explains how individual papers contribute to an overall theme.
2. the names and paper titles of the presenters
3. for each presenter, a one-page summary (maximum 600 words) of the paper’s topic, argument(s), and evidence used
4. for the commentator, chair, and each presenter: one-page c.v., with postal and e-mail addresses
Please indicate if a proposal is sponsored by one of SHOT’s special interest groups.

Submission Instructions:
1. Materials should be sent as a single text attachment to an e-mail message to the Program Committee Chair, Tiago Saraiva, at tiago.saraiva@ics.ul.pt
2. Proposals for complete sessions as well as individual papers shall be submitted in one file.
3. Please adhere to the 600-word limit for each paper. Use no unusual fonts or special formatting, and save your attachment either as a Microsoft Word document (.doc) or as a Rich Text Format (.rtf) file. Nearly all word processing programs, including those used on the Macintosh,can save text in the Rich Text Format. Do not use Adobe Acrobat (pdf).
4. Name your attachment with your last name and the word ‘proposal’, e.g. ‘Smith_proposal.doc’.
5. A session organizer should also deliver a description of the overall session. If you are organizing a session and proposing a paper in that session, you will be delivering both an “abstract” and “proposal”, plus your c.v.
6. If you are proposing a non-traditional session you may indicate that in the “abstract.” These also require a curriculum vitae.

General information:
While SHOT rules exclude multiple submissions (i.e submitting more than one individual paper proposal, or proposing both an individual paper and a paper as part of a session), scholars may both propose a paper and serve as a commentator or session chair. Presenting at the 2008 SHOT meeting will not rule out presenting in 2009.

For more information about the Society for the History of Technology and our annual meeting, please see the SHOT webpage: http://www.historyoftechnology.org/
For questions, please contact SHOT secretary Bernie Carlson at shot@virginia.edu

Change at SHOT Pittsburgh Meeting:
In Pittsburgh, SHOT will be experimenting with a new format of turning over our Sunday morning program slots to our Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and associated groups, for some to organize their own paper sessions, workshops, roundtables, or other events. If you are involved with one of our SIGs or wish to be, please watch for news of this from your SIG officers or contact them for more information (contact info for SIGs is available through the SHOT webpage). We welcome rich creative ideas.

28 October – 1 November 2009
2009 Annual Meeting, Society for Social Studies of Sciences (4S)
Washington, DC
CFP – Deadline 1 March 2009
The conference welcomes contributions on topics from the range of fields found within science and technology studies. This year’s conference will not have a predetermined theme. Consequently, proposals for sessions and papers should emphasize how they will make innovative and timely contributions to any theme relevant to science and technology studies (STS).
Please visit: http://convention3.allacademic.com/one/ssss/4s09/

5 – 8 November 2009
Energy and Innovation: 2009 International Conference on the History of Transport, Traffic and Mobility (T2M)
Lucerne, Switzerland,
CFP – Deadline 15 April 2009

The International Association for the History of Transport, Traffic and Mobility (T2M) invites proposals for papers to be presented at its Seventh International Conference to be held at the Verkehrshaus der Schweiz (Swiss Museum of Transport), Lucerne, Switzerland.
The conference is organized by historians from different universities as well as by the Swiss Museum of Transport. Switzerland’s most visited museum celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2009 and is being rebuilt and expanded for this occasion at the time. This year the conference theme is “Energy and Innovation.” The CfP asks for papers in this thematic field but it is at the same time open to all subjects in the history of transport, traffic, and mobility. The language of the conference is English.

Traffic is motion and therefore energy is imperative. It doesn’t matter what, how or where to one moves – performance, or the conversion of energy into motion, is always preconditioned. The modernisation of traffic since the 18th century can be seen as a process in the course of which means of transport that relied in the end on solar energy were replaced by means of transport that relied on non-renewable energy. Thus, the focus was shifted from the likes of walking, rowing, sailing, horseback riding and the usage of animal traction to mechanical means of transport such as the steam engine, the combustion engine and rocket propulsion. Where did the question of energy figure in the acceleration and intensification of traffic? Where in the choice of a means of transport, in the question ‘street or ship’? How was energy efficiency for new machines increased? Conversely, how was their environmental pollution reduced? Why did one choose a specific propulsion? How did the price of energy affect the price of transport and mobility? How big was the influence of private traffic and energy business thereby, how great the weight of governmental politics?

According to economist Joseph Schumpeter, innovations are elementary improvements that shake the economy and the community which means in this case that they produce new means of transport such as train, car or plane. Which economical, social, cultural and political conditions leveraged which means of transport? Innovations never were the result of mere business calculations and engineering efforts. Behind those were always sociocultural factors such as the ideology of freedom, the appetite for adventure and discovery or the play instinct and surge for fame. Also, new combinations of existing means of transport could lead to innovation.

Proposals which connect the two conference topics (energy and innovation) are eminently favoured: How was the velocity of a means of transport increased without a multiplication of energy consumption? Do new means of transport prevail mainly in times of war and crisis? Could pre-modern and antiquated means of transport increase their efficiency under the pressure of competition of new modes of drive as for example the fast sailing ships that came up under the pressure of the steam boat around 1850? Is a renaissance of pre-modern and environmentally sound means of transport imaginable?

Participants are encouraged, though not required, to organize panels on these themes. A panel consists of a chair and normally up to three speakers; no commentator is required. We especially encourage transnational, comparative and transmodal approaches, and welcome proposals exploring theoretical or methodological issues as well as those of a more empirical nature. Relevant contributions are welcome from historians as well as from cultural geographers, sociologists, anthropologists, economists, and other scholars who do not define themselves as historians. We especially invite recent entrants to the profession and doctoral students to submit proposals.

T2M 2009 wants to invest more energy into communication. Posters of all oral presentations will be exhibited in the public area of Switzerland’s most visited museum. This innovation will contribute to better promotion of the history of transport, traffic and mobility as a scientific discipline and as a public service. Submission of a fully completed poster form (1 page A4) is mandatory for all speakers. Posters will be judged. Poster forms will be made available later on the website of the programme committee.

The deadline for abstracts and a short CV (max one page each; Word or rich text format only) is the 15th of April, 2009. Session proposals should also include a one-page overview of the session. Please send proposals to: t2m_content@verkehrshaus.ch.Submitters will be notified by the programme committee during the first week of May 2009 on the success or status of their submission. The full paper of all accepted submissions and of the posters must be delivered on or before August 15th, 2009. These papers will be copied onto a conference CD-ROM for distribution in advance to all conference participants. Individual presentations at the conference are therefore to be limited to a fifteen-minute summary to allow for debate and discussion within the session. All participants are required to register.

For details of T2M and of previous conferences, please visit: www.t2m.org. Further details of the conference (including the poster form) will be posted on a website of the Programme Committee which is currently under construction and will go online later.

Programme Committee:
Laurent Tissot (University of Neuchâtel) (Chair); Stéphanie von Erlach (sbb historic/Bern); Ueli Haefeli (University of Bern); Gisela Huerlimann (University of Zurich/Swiss Federal Institute of Technology); Christoph Maria Merki (University of Bern); This Oberhaensli (Swiss Museum of Transport); Christian Pfister (University of Bern); Hans-Ulrich Schiedt (ViaStoria/University of Bern); Henry Wydler (Swiss Museum of Transport)

Scientific Committee (for paper acceptance):
Laurent Tissot (University of Neuchâtel), Gisela Huerlimann (University of Zurich/Swiss Federal Institute of Technology); Hans-Liudger Dienel (Berlin University of Technology, Germany), Garth Wilson (Canada Science and Technology Museum, Ottawa/Canada)

For details see http://www.t2m.org.
Please contact: Sjoerd van der Wal, info@t2m.org.


III. Summer School

14 – 17 June 2009
Raumkonzepte – Raumwahrnehmungen – Raumnutzungen.
Deutsches Historisches Institut Paris / Institut historique allemand Paris; Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris
Deadline for application 15 March 2009

The members of the summer school will investigate different perspectives of space.
Please visit: www.dhi-paris.fr/ 
Please contact: Susanne Rau, Deutsches Historisches Institut Paris, sommerkurs2009@dhi-paris.fr


IV. Call for contributions

Oil and energy resources in contemporary history. Special issue of the Italian scholarly journal "900: per una storia del tempo presente"
CFP – Deadline for abstracts 10 February 2009

The Italian scholarly journal "900: per una storia del tempo presente", will devote its next issue to the problem of 'Oil and energy resources in contemporary history'. The Editorial Board invites whoever might be interested in this topic to send a 1000 word abstract and a short (max two pages) CV to the general editors of this issue, Elisabetta Bini (elisabetta.bini@nyu.edu ) and Simone Selva (simone_selva@yahoo.it ) by February 10, 2009. Successful applicants will be expected to email their articles by July 31, 2009.
This issue of "900" aims to explore role and importance of energy sources as broadly defined throughout the Twentieth century. Against this background, particular attention will be paid to oil and its by-products. The ongoing debate on themes such as “the end of oil”, the environmental effects of an oil-driven model of economic growth, as well as the pressing need to find out an economic model of sustainable development based on new energy sources, brings before the attention of historians a range of problems and questions arising out of today’s energy crisis and its meaning of historical watershed.

We wish to investigate to what extent, if so, oil did influence on the one side the birth and rise of political regimes and economic structures throughout the contemporary world; on the other, the development of a modern system of labour and international relations. This research target will be picked up through a close attention to the interlocking relations between oil and coal in the history of energy resources.

Topics to be covered include the following ones:
a) Whatever reappraisal of oil history should be set against its international and transnational background. This framework does make historical work to rethink some key watersheds in the history of the Twentieth Century, spanning from WWII through the postwar reconstruction up to the 1970s’ energy crisis. A comparison between coal and oil does make scholarly work to pinpoint a clear-cut distinction between the early rise of the nation state and the later settlement of an international relations system based on a cutting-edge distinction between oil producing and oil importing countries, and the emergence of new international relations among them. We will be trying to investigate how the historical shift from coal to oil did change international relations, with particular attention to both the changing balance of power among the European empires and between each of them and their respective colonies, as well as to decolonisation and the post WWII ascendancy of the United States to world supremacy. Besides, we would like to examine to what extent the availability to the energy sources producing nations of a strategic raw material such as oil did mark a pivotal turning point in the history and evolution of the economic models and political regimes adopted by the oil producing countries. Furthermore, the aim is at breaking down how this did shape the nation building process in these national contexts.

b) Recent scholarly works did focus their reconstructions on the wage earners’ working conditions in the oil industry, be it either the drawing and processing firms or the retail trade companies. Thus far, however, these studies on the oil sector’s workers are few and unfinished if we compare them to the scores of historical works on miners produced over time. Therefore, 900 strives to figure out how either the state or the industry did exercise their control on the workforce in the “age of oil” in both the energy producing and the energy importing countries. Consistently with this perspective, we wish to contribute to the history of trade union organization and collective action which came about on oil fields, in petroleum refineries or in the oil manufacturing firms. Last but not least, we aim to catch to what extent -in a century long time span- the interlocking nexus between on the one side the international hegemony and its power structures, on the other the nation building process which the oil producing countries did experience, laid down the foundations for an economic model of governance, alternatively based on social integration or exclusion, built up on consumer capitalism. In turn, the overall research target is to break down whether or not energy sources account for different pathways of social cohesion and depoliticisation as they came into being in advanced industrial societies along the last century.

Please contact Elisabetta Bini, elisabetta.bini@nyu.edu, and Simone Selva simone_selva@yahoo.it