Dear Colleagues and Friends,
Next week we will meet for our joint conference with IUHPS in Budapest; thanks to Imre Hronszky the Newsletter publishes a report on research and teaching the History of Technology at Budapest University of Technology and Economics, the university which hosts our conference this year.
It will be a pleasure to meet you soon; best wishes for your journey
Yours Stefan Poser
I. Research into and Teaching History of Technology and Methodology of History of Technology at the BME
(Budapest University of Technology and Economics)
III. Recently Published Books
I. Research into and Teaching History of Technology and Methodology of History of Technology at the BME (Budapest University of Technology and Economics)
Imre Hronszky, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, firstname.lastname@example.org
Research in history of technology had some internationally widely acknowledged representatives in the 1970s and 1980s such as László Makay or Walter Endrei. Investigating into the history of technology in Hungary has been included into gender research by Éva Vámos. Investigating history of engineering is first of all hall-marked by József Németh. Early history of aviation until the 20th century was the topic of the PhD dissertation written by Zoltán Galántai, at the end of the 1990s. Both have been working at the BME. Beside the mentioned persons there are many who, beside their profession, do some research into history of technology in Hungary. A yearly conference organised by Éva Vámos and the proceedings of it provide for a regular forum to present the results. There is further a Technikatörténeti Szemle (Review of History of Technology), but it is published rather irregularly and rarely.
While there had not been any institutionalised unit at any university for history of technology earlier, a Department of Innovation Studies and History of Technology was established by 2000 at the BME, with the strong support of the Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences. It was headed by Prof. Imre Hronszky. (As to his service to the IUHPS he was, in 2003 and 2004, chairperson of the Joint Committee of the IUHPS. These joint committees repeatedly identified topics most interesting for joint research by the DHS and DLMPS. So, in the first half of the 1980s, the topic identified was Nature mathematised by the Committee headed by Joe Pitt, and two years later, Scientific knowledge socialised by the Committee headed by Imre Hronszky.) The leading idea at the BME, in 2000, was to develop a unit devoted to the innovation studies determined to contribute to systematically uncover the connections with history of technology and to provide for teaching it both for students of economics and engineering. By July 2007 the department was dissolved, due to institutional reform ideas within the faculty. Since then some members of the earlier department have been working with the Department of Management and Corporate Economics and with the Department of Financial Issues.
Research on methodology of writing history of technology has been merged with ethics and epistemology of technological research in the work of Imre Hronszky, and this commitment gave the direction for the Department. He has been alternately working in history and philosophy of science and technology. One case in history of philosophy of science was the reconstruction of the systematic ideas Margaret Masterman developed for investigating into the so called „preparadigmatic” phase in Kuhn’s model. This phase is in analogy with the emergence phase of radical technological innovation where such research efforts have been made recently. The research of Imre Hronszky included interpreting the periodic system as the frame for systematically setting all the possible analogies for chemical research and providing this way for weak predictability (research made in the 1970s). Further it included interpretation of the story of the Danube Dam (until 1990). Investigations into the differences of scientific and technological paradigms (in the 1990s), the need for a new type of institutionalisation of the cooperation of scientists, engineers and ethicians in research (in the 1990s) were added to these topics.
The story of the Danube Dam is of high interest for at least three reasons. First, because it has been one of the biggest technological investments in Europe in the 1980s, at least in East-Central Europe. Second, because it was made in a very tense political situation, it is a real collectors piece for the interaction of politics with technological development. Third, because it provides for a case that shows the meaningfulness to add an element to the SCOT model on getting a closure for some technological development. This means that different factors can provide for a reopening after having reached some earlier closure already.
Below, in this article you can find two things. The first is the outline of the Danube Dam story until 1990. The second is the outline of what and how history of technology is taught at the BME now.
On the Danube Dam Story
To regulate the Danube for energy production is one of the most important stories in technological development in Hungary. A basic „force of nature” as big rivers like the Danube or the Tisza in Hungary, the Rhine or the big rivers in China are an opportunity for a number of technological functions. Among the main possible functions of the rivers there are shipping, irrigation, fishing, functions of leisure time, serving as national border, etc.The plans and later the regulation efforts on the Danube for energy production started from the industrialisation efforts in Hungary from the end of the 1940s. Hungary is poor in energy resources. The industrialisation efforts from the end of 1940s put the energy problem into the center of a very much forced industrial policy. Utilising water energy was one of the main candidates. With the changing requirements until the mid-70s the definition of the dam system changed too. It begun as a single dam conception and was changed into a double dam system, among other things. The final decision to realise the dam system was made to jointly realise the plan by Hungary and Czechoslovakia in 1977.
As main background, not simply the ongoing industrialisation efforts but the repeated energy crises in the 1970s can be indicated. The technological side of the investment went through further changes in the 1980s, i.e., some environmental ideas were included. Two points should be emphasised. The first is how this technological and industrial task became a main political issue. To mention just one element in this politicisation, this technological task became the medium of evidently showing the citizens in Hungary that the socialist system would not allow to develop any public discourse oriented to technology and environmental issues because it would identify any such sort of discourse as a threat against the political power. It became the Damned Dam issue. (The name Damned Dam was kindly creted by Trevor Pinch to title a lecture to which he invited Imre Hronszky to Cornell, in 1991.) As folk termed it, it was the Dunasaurus story. (Duna is Danube in Hungarian.) It is also shown that this special situation led to exaggerated ideas about the environmental dangers and made the later discourse between Hungary and Slovakia quite difficult for Hungary. While dam builiding projects are very contradictory in political terms in any country (think of the building of the Saint James Bay Dam in Canada or the Three Gorges issues in China) the story of the Danube Dam project shows further political specificities. While the Dam issue was a political point of attacking the socialist system in Czechoslovakia, Czechoslovakia, and later Slovakia, from its establishment in 1992, countinued the building efforts. Utilising the geographic possibility Slovakia realised a single dam. So, instead the planned double dam system a single dam has been working. The story of the Danube Dam also shows how contradictory most dam building projects are with respect to their political preconditions and social and environmental and political effects.
On the „hydrogen car” project
One of the recent historical research topics, from 2006, is the reconstruction of the story of hydrogen cars as part of the so-called „hydrogen economy” efforts worldwide. The leading hypothesis is that this is a doubious project which is very problematic for a number of issues. These problematic assumptions include that hydrogen-driven cars would be only a very moderate part of meeting the climate change until 2030. (According to the most optimistic expectations, not more then 10 million hydrogen-driven cars would run by 2030. Recently you have had nearly 180 million cars only in the US.) The hydrogen car does not seem cautiously assessed against the electric car alternative in the early 21st century. It needs a series of breakthrough innovations to be realised in time (breakthroughs by a „prescribed date”). It needs strong support to solve the „chicken-egg problem” of infrastructure, just to mention some of the main difficulties. As a history of a project pointed out, by 2002 and 2008, this solution would not only be promising but the unique one. It may attract historians to track its possible strong path dependence, strong political connection, its inclusion into the typical „band wagon” stories of technological development (emergence and stabilisation of trends through alignenment of actors) or even the unusually strong layer of rhetoric efforts. The decision by Obama’s government to withdraw support from the hydrogen car and redirect it may make this research even more up-to-date. It offers rare possibilities to historians to contribute to recent technology policy. Obviously, the EU keeps its commitment. Our research done together with Ágnes Fésüs – who has been working on this topic as part of her PhD dissertation – concentrate on uncertainty and innovation, among other things, on efforts to widen alignment of committed actors and role of rhetorics in this process. (Parts of the results were presented as invited lectures, for example at the ITAS/Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe, or presentations at international conferences, such as the conference organized by the French Embassy in Budapest on energy issues, in 2008.) Especially 2002 and 2003 are important in the story of this issue, when the US goverment made strong efforts to persuade the EU to join, and Prodi himself was also strongly inclined toward the „hydrogen economy”. As one element, it is worth wile to identify in the story how roadmaps (with their quasi exactness) worked literally as rhetoric tools.
Teaching history of technology
At the BME (Budapest University of Technology and Economics), teaching history of Technology is not a favourite topic. Imre Hronszky and his division at the Institute of Social Sciences and Economics (from 1989 through 1999) and later the Department of Innovation Studies and History of Technology (from 2000 through 2007), and lastly the Department of Management and Corporate Economics and the Department of Financing (from 2008) have been teaching history of technology.
History of technology has been optional for the students, and has been part of some PhD tuition from establishing the PhD Programme, led by Márta Fehér, in 1998. Beside teaching history of technology there has been a course on History of Engineering, given by prof. József Németh. That course partially overlaps with history of technology but focuses on history of engineering in Hungary. Zoltán Galántai, member of the division and later the Department of Innovation Studies, recently of the Department of Financing has been giving an extremely popular course on history of technology (for several hundreds of students in each semester) that mainly concentrates on modern technology.
This short review outlines some main concepts utilised by Imre Hronszky for teaching history of technology. Broadly speaking the course is engaged in disseminating social constructivist approaches, and tries to mediate a co-evolutionary perspective. One added element to this methodology is taking into account that discourses and closures are penetrated by different forces, economic or political. Its mission is to raise consciousness of the alternate structure of technology dynamics and action possibilites of the most different actors that have been participating in history of technology. The course given to BSC and Masters students tries to counterbalance the understanding of technology that is spontaneously disseminated by the engineering professors. In their interpretation, as still nearly everywhere in the world, technology fits in modernist understanding. It is part of progress „by itself”, or at least something neutral. It is the task of experts (engineers), it is a driving force of economic and social growth understood as progress, and is more and more changing into applied science.
You can find below the outline of how the author tries to provide for teaching a different understanding by the course on history of technology.
Outline of lectures in history of technology for bachelors and master students
1/ The question of what technology „is”. Different views on the construction of technology
2/ On technological determinism
3/ Exploiting long-waves and the question of possibilites of human actors
4/ Actor-networks, SCOT approaches, technological paradigms
5/ Empirical research and theories in technological development
6/ The manyfold „driving forces”. Technology as politics and ideology
8/ Responsibility for and ethics in technology development
9/ „Side effects” of new technologies
10/ On the neglected actors in the history of technology
11/ Trends and breaks, from technology forecasting to technology foresight; what can we learn from investigating history?
12/ History of the Danube dam
The main rationale to teach history of technology is to utilise it for educating a future engineer or an economist into a „reflective practitioner” (Donald Schon). This point has been emphasised by Imre Hronszky when serving from 1999 through 2002 as High Level Expert Group member for the EC DG Research on Changing relations of research and education, then at several international engineering education conferences. In order to realise this rationale giving a history course is certainly only one small step. The more important part is still far away from realisation. This is integration of this perspective into the engineering and economist courses themselves.
Reseach into and teaching of methodology of history of technology to PhD students
There is another course related to history of technology to give some fuller view. This is teaching methodology of history of technology to PhD students. It was originally included into a PhD course that started as History of Technology, Engineering and Science in 1998. Due to some internal and especially external impacts, it gradually changed into a Philosophy of Science course, that still preserved its History of Technology and History of Hungarian Engineering part. (This story of the frequent changes in orientation of PHD courses is itself telling about the Hungarian conditions for realising a PhD in history of technology.)
Roughly, the course on the methodology of writing history of technology consists of the following parts. It begins with the very early approaches when discussing technology was not distinguished from history of technology „proper”. It starts with reflections on technology from ancient times and follows reflections into the mid-18th century. It surveys historical reflection on technology until the early 20th century. Then it focuses on the conception of the Annales group. It assesses their claimed task to first reconstruct history of technology as such, the claim of writing first an internal history. Then it switches to what can be called the conception of Oxford History of Technology. History of technology as cultural history and the work of the group around Technology and Culture is the next topic. It involves the emancipation trials of history of technology, the 30-year process until the IUHPS also accepted, some years ago at the last world congress, that history of science and technology were equally important topics.
The main part of PhD teaching concentrates on social constructivist approaches. The assessment of „standardised” historical reconstructions by these approaches are the bulk of the material. But mostly in contradiction with the followers of these approaches the typical functionalistic reductionism in reconstructing history is emphasised.
Hronszky, Imre / Fehér, Márta / Dajka, Balázs (eds.): Scientific Knowledge Socialized, Kluwer, 1988, also as an independent edition by the Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest 1988.
Hronszky, Imre: The State and the Artifact, Per. Pol. Social Sciences and Humanities, V.1., 1993.
Hronszky, Imre: Toward a Disclosure?, Per. Pol. Social Sciences and Humanities,V.2., 1993.
Hronszky, Imre: On Ethics and Changing Expertise in Technology Assessment, in: J.v. Bentham at al. (eds.): Structures and Norms in Science, Kluwer, Dordrecht, 1996.
Hronszky, Imre: Traditionen und Gemeinschaften im technologischen Wandel. Zur Erklaerung der Entwicklung von Technologie durch Kuhn’s “Struktur”, in: Gerhard Banse – Kaethe Friedrich (Hrsg.): Konstruieren zwischen Wissenschaft und Kunst, Edition Sigma, Berlin 2000.
Hronszky, Imre: Risk and Innovation. Development of Technology in Social Context, Arisztotelész Kiadó, Budapest 2002, second edition 2005 (In Hungarian),
Hronszky, Imre: Integrating innovation management and entrepreneurial knowledge with engineering studies in a practical way, In: Klaus Kornwachs / Hronszky, Imre (Eds.): Shaping better technologies, Lit Verl., Münster 2006.
Hronszky, Imre: How to educate engineering students to become „reflective practitioners”?, In: 7th WFEO World Congress on Engineering Education „Mobility of Engineers”, Proceedings, Budapest 2006.
Fésüs, Ágnes / Hronszky, Imre: The paradigm of Mastermann, in: Binzberger, Viktor / Fehér, Márta / Zemplén, Gábor (Szerk.): Kuhn és a relativizmus, L’Harmattan, Budapest 2007 (In Hungarian).
Vámos, Éva (ed.): Studies into the History of Science, Technology and Medicine,
Recent Results from the Domain of the Hungarian History of Sciences, Technology and Medicine, published by MTESZ, yearly (It serves for regularly providing a medium for results of research into history of technology).
The author was the chairperson of the Joint Committee of the IUHPS in 1985-86, as well an expert at the EC, and member of the advisory board of the Science in Society Committee of the 7th framework programme.
2-5 August 2009
Consumers and Experts: The use of chemistry (and alchemy). The 7th International Conference on History of Chemistry
Please find the conference programme and further information on http://www.chemhist2009.mke.org.hu/
28 – 30 August 2009
Kernenergie - Voraussetzungen und Folgen. Jahrestagung der Georg-Agricola Gesellschaft / Annual Meeting on History and Future of Nuclear Power of the Georg-Agricola Society
Please find the program on: http://www.georg-agricola-gesellschaft.de/?cat=6
Please contact Norman.Pohl@iwtg.tu-freiberg.de
7 – 9 October 2009
Modeling Spaces - Modifying Societies. International Conference of the graduate program Topology of Technology of the Darmstadt University of Technology
Fraunhofer IGD, Darmstadt, Germany
The conference aims to increase our understanding of the power and limitations of models, their construction and effects in the sciences and in fields of practice. It provides a forum for the discussion of qualitative and quantitative models composed of verbal propositions, numerical abstractions, and visualizations - and their distinctive spatial dimension. Of particular interest are issues that cut across established scientific disciplines and analyze the boundaries between science, technology, society, and politics.
For further information please visit: www.modelingspaces.com
15 – 18 October 2009
Annual Meeting of the Society for the History of Technology, SHOT
Please find detailed information on http://www.historyoftechnology.org/annual_meeting.html
17-19 February 2010
Financial Crises: Historical Perspectives
APEBH 2010 Asia-Pacific Economic and Business History Conference
(Organised by the Economic History Society of Australia and New Zealand)
Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
CFP – Deadline 30 November 2009
Papers and proposals for sessions are invited for the 2010 APEBH conference. Although the main conference theme is 'Financial Crises: Historical Perspectives’ we also extend a welcome to contributions on any other topics in economic, social, and business history, as well as to proposals for sessions on particular themes.
Researchers across a range of disciplines are warmly welcomed including economists and historians of economic thought, accounting, business, society, and management, as well as archivists. Early career researchers are encouraged to participate. The conference organisers are particularly interested in attracting papers that examine developments within the Asia-Pacific region broadly defined and/or papers that provide an international comparative perspective, but by no means wish to discourage papers on other regions of the world.
The current global financial crisis raises many questions that invite historical comparison. What are the similarities and differences between this and previous financial and economic crises, including the depression of the 1930s and the Asian crisis of the late 1990s? To what extent are financial crises inevitable, or can they be avoided by sound banking practices and economic policy? What could today's policy makers and business leaders learn from previous eras of financial turmoil? How did financial regulation change in response to past episodes of crisis and with what consequences? How do financial crises affect different types of economy and different groups in society? Can we expect to see the revival of Keynesian and other doctrines that rose to popularity in the 1930s? Why are some businesses more vulnerable to the impact of national and international financial crises than others? Do crises lead to opportunities for astute entrepreneurs? Are there historical precedents for a financial crisis caused by the growth of new instruments and new institutions that were not formally included in existing regulatory regimes and, if so, how did regulators respond? These questions could be approached from a number of perspectives, including those of the cliometrician, the economic historian, the economic theorist, the business historian, and the social historian. There is scope for new interpretations as well as syntheses of existing work.
All abstracts, proposals for sessions, and papers for refereeing or posting on the conference website should be emailed to the following programme organisers: Rick Garside, Otago University, Rick.Garside@otago.ac.nz and Edwyna Harris, Monash University,
Edwyna.Harris@buseco.monash.edu.au. Paper abstracts of one page may be submitted at any time up to 30 November 2009. A decision on proposals will be made within a month of submission. Session proposals of one page may be submitted up to the same date, outlining the main objectives of the session.
You are not obliged to submit your full paper for refereeing. However, some universities require staff attending conferences to have their papers refereed, and if this is the case in your institution please submit the full paper by 11 January 2010, earlier if possible.
Any papers sent to us by 12 February 2010 will be posted on the conference website.
A conference paper prize will be awarded. A selection of papers (subject to the normal reviewing process and standards) may be published in the Australian Economic History Review.
Further details about the conference and the Call for Papers can be found at the web page of the Economic History Society of Australia and New Zealand:
Please contact Rick Garside, Otago University, Rick.Garside@otago.ac.nz and Edwyna Harris, Monash University, Edwyna.Harris@buseco.monash.edu.au.
27-29 May 2010
Knitting the web: Railways, users and the city – Cities, users and the railways. Past Present, Future. 4th International Railway History Conference
CFP – Deadline 15 October 2009
The conference is jointly organized by: The City of Mechelen & Heritage Centre Lamot and the International Railway History Association. The Organizing Committee invites proposals for papers to be presented at this International Conference to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the first commercial rail operations on the European continent, between Brussels and Mechelen, to be held in Mechelen, Belgium, from 27th to 29th May 2010.
This conference should shed light on the complex relationship between the railways, the cities and the users – consumers of this new transport mode. Railway lines structure cities and create landscape. Cities benefit from the railways, like railways benefit from the cities. Railways bring in new culture, new identities and new representations. A railway station was a new object, a new place and a new building in the city’s environment. With a railway station a city became part of a greater chain of production and consumption in a network without borders.
The need to accommodate the railway companies posed new questions to city councils, not only about the level of urbanism, but also about network building, the geography of transport and city architecture. Detailed research into the complex relations between cities and their rapidly growing hinterlands and into the transformation of cities by the early railway lines will help us to understand the potential of railway locations for our near future. The conference welcomes papers on the first railway experiences in Belgium and in other countries, with attention to the political, geopolitical and economic context of the early and the new adaptors, and the forms of network building, organisational structure and financing of the early projects. Experiences in a transnational context – international exchange of knowledge, etc. – are highly recommended. The conference welcomes also papers on railway stations as new places in or nearby cities; the way an identity is created within that new entry into town; the user – consumer of mobility on 19th and early 20th century railways; the decline of the railway stations in the 1950s and 60s and the revival of the railway station at the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century due to new investments in public transport, implementation of high speed rail, investments in city development, etc. We especially encourage transnational and comparative approaches, and welcome proposals of a more empirical nature, as well as proposals exploring theoretical or methodological issues.
The deadline for abstracts and a short CV (max one page each; Word or rich text format only) is October 15th. 2009. Please send proposals to: email@example.com. Submitters will be notified by the programme committee by January 15th 2010. Travel costs and accommodation are paid by the organisors for the conference period (27-29 May 2010). It is the intention of the organisers to publish the papers after the conference.
Colin Divall – Institute of Railway Studies & Transport History – University of York UK; Ralf Roth – Wolfgang Goehte University Frankfurt & IRHA – Guy Vanthemsche – Vakgroep Geschiedenis Vrije Universiteit Brussel; Nico Wouters – Heritage Centre Lamot and vakgroep Geschiedenis UA – Paul Van Heesvelde International Railway History Association.
Please contact the conveyers by firstname.lastname@example.org.
16 – 17 July 2010
Global Business and Global Networks. Association of Business Historians Annual Conference
The York Management School and the Centre for the Evolution of Global Business and Institutions
CFP - Deadline not yet fixed
The York Management School in conjunction with the Centre for the Evolution of Global Business and Institutions is pleased to host the ABH Conference in 2010. Accommodation, all academic sessions, breakfast, lunch and coffee breaks will be held on the main University campus. Highlights of the conference include: a drinks reception and conference dinner at the National Railway Museum, preceded by a brief tour of the Museum.
Further details and conference registration instructions will be posted on the ABH and CEGBI websites in 2010.
Please contact the conference organiser David Higgins, The York Management School via email@example.com
26 – 28 August 2010
Business Beyond the Firm. 14th Annual Conference of the European Business History Association 2010
University of Glasgow
CFP – Deadlinie 31 January 2010
The Centre for Business History in Scotland and the University of Glasgow invite you to the 14th Annual Conference of the European Business History Association, which will be held in various committee rooms at the University of Glasgow, 26-28th August 2010 (http://www.gla.ac.uk/ebha2010). The theme for the conference will be "Business Beyond the Firm". Business people routinely move from firm to firm, but they also frequently move into - or sometimes create - organisations located outside the world of private profit-seeking business, ones linked to politics, government, education, health care, philanthropy, religion, promotion of trade, and other pursuits. Movement in the opposite direction is also possible, not least owing to the fact that many of these other organisations share many of the core characteristics of the private firm, including close connection to the broader economy; undertaking manufacturing; providing services; and/or investing, selling, and employing (sometimes large numbers of) personnel. In other words, these organisations often carry out the functions and tasks associated with any business, as do most state-owned enterprises, although their main purpose is usually not to make a profit but to achieve other aims (generally while at the same time breaking even financially). As its main theme, this conference will explore the interrelationships between business practice, the firm, and the business entrepreneur on the one hand and the actors, organisations, and institutions of the broader social and political environment on the other.
Proposals for papers and/or sessions related to the theme of the conference are especially welcome, although paper and/or session proposals not directly related to it will also be considered. For paper proposals, please submit a title and abstract of up to one A4 page along with a one-page CV to firstname.lastname@example.org. Session proposals should include a brief abstract of the session along with a one-page abstract and a one-page CV for each participant. Deadline for all proposals is 31 January 2010.
Please visit for further details: http://www.gla.ac.uk/ebha2010.
Please contact: email@example.com.
29 September – 4 October 2010
Annual Meeting of the Society for the History of Technology, SHOT
The Call for Papers will follow later; please find more information on:
III. Recently Published Books
Aumann, Philipp: Mode und Methode. Die Kybernetik in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. = Deutsches Museum. Abhandlungen und Berichte - Neue Folge, 24. Wallstein, Göttingen 2009.
The author analyses the development of cybernetics in Germany from the 1950s until the 1970s. He investigates the development of this new and fashionable science in different scientific disciplines as well as in the public and asks for mutual influences.
Braun, Hans-Joachim (ed.): Die zweite Industrielle Revolution: Schiffbau seit dem Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts. = Technikgeschichte als Vorbild moderner Technik. Schriftenreihe der Georg-Agricola-Gesellschaft, vol. 33. Georg-Agricola-Gesellschaft, Freiberg 2008 (published in 2009).
The collection of essays is dedicated to the history of shipbuilding since the end of the 19th century. The main emphasis is on the development in Germany. In these times many innovations in the construction and production technology as well as in the propulsion technology made shipyards and ships more effective; they can be named the second industrial revolution in shipbuilding.