CALL FOR PAPERS:
Objects in Motion: Globalizing Technology
Artefacts: Studies in the History of Science and Technology, Vol. 8
(Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, 2013)
Deadline for Proposal: December 12, 2011
We invite proposals from scholars in the history of science, technology,
and medicine, science and technology studies, material culture, museum
and cultural studies for innovative contributions that explore
technological artefacts within the context of a history of
globalization. The papers will be published in Volume 8 of the Artefacts
Series by Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press. Publication is
projected for late 2013.
Global movement of people, objects and ideas—the basis of the
interconnectedness that makes up globalization—has only been possible
because of myriad technologies. Technology has driven globalization and
globalization has changed technology. To understand the intricate
relationship of both, we need to go back to the artefacts and examine
machines, appliances and large systems in the (global) networks through
which they have circulated. How have the dynamics of globalization been
materialized in objects? Although technological consumer objects such as
phones, PCs and frozen foods are frequently named when globalizing
effects are described, artefacts often disappear in public and scholarly
debates. Yet, by their double nature as both material entity and symbol,
they produce, re-produce and react to globalizing effects. While
generations of historians of technology have focused on the materiality
of objects in the sense that they have analyzed their innovative
technical character, their operation modes and ‘improvements’, recent
paradigm shifts have resulted in a more integrative approach to
technical material culture. Artefacts are increasingly understood as
embodying both a material and immaterial side that goes beyond their
mere modes of functioning into the social and cultural realm. Concurrent
with that is the acknowledgment that technological objects need to be
studied in view of increasingly globalized production and consumption
cycles. While the globalized world has changed the ways that
technological objects have been engineered, built and sold, it similarly
has changed how they have been perceived and appropriated as consumer
goods and symbols.
Successful contributions will focus on technological objects as the
primary objects of inquiry and sources of evidence. We are currently
accepting proposals for research papers (approx. 6,000 words), case
studies (max. 3,000 words) and exhibition reviews/discussions (max.1,500
words). Due to the tight timeline for this project, please limit your
proposals to projects that are already well advanced.
A topic as large as globalization and technology poses challenges for
potential contributors wanting to ground their projects in a manageable
framework. For this reason we are proposing a number of research themes.
Researchers may wish to explore one or several of these.
1. From Technology Transfer to Reciprocity
In contributing to a history of globalization, object-focused transfer
studies will have most value where they address questions of dialogue
and reciprocity in the transfer process, or where they problematize and
historicize the concept of transfer itself.
2. Modernity, Nation-States and Multinational Corporations
Historians of technology need to analyze globalized technological
artefacts in their relations to historical meta-narratives and concepts
such as modernity and Westernization, imperialism and nationalism,
colonialism and postcolonialism.
3. Global and Local
If we follow Madeleine Akrich’s dictum of user scripts inscribed by
producers of technology and de-scripted, modified or rejected by users,
the relationship between global and local contexts of artefacts become
important. What is the relationship between globalization and localization?
4. Globalization as (Non-)Movement of People, Objects and Knowledge
Studying globalization’s effects on technology means to analyze the
multidimensional network that is made up of subjects, objects and
contexts. Who and what have moved in a globalized world? How have labor
markets, international expert cultures, cooperation and knowledge
transfer influenced globalization?
5. Globalization and Museums
Finally, the science and technology museum as medium between producers
and consumers needs to be considered. How has globalization influenced
the museum, its collections, its exhibitions, its research and its
administration? How do we exhibit globalization?
Proposals should include a title and abstract (no more than 500 words),
as well as the author’s curriculum vitae. Please send all proposals
electronically by December 12, 2011 to:
Bryan Dewalt, Canada Science and Technology Museum, [log in to unmask]
Nina Moellers, Deutsches Museum, [log in to unmask]
Dr. Nina Möllers
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