CFP: Society for the History of Technology (SHOT), 2012 Annual Meeting, 4-7 October, Copenhagen, Denmark

The Society for the History of Technology will hold its annual meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark from 4-7 October at the Copenhagen Business School. The Program Committee invites paper and panel proposals on any topic in the history of technology, broadly defined. The Committee welcomes proposals for individual papers or sessions, as well as works-in-progress from researchers at all levels (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 particularly encouraged. We especially encourage proposals from non-Western and Eastern-European scholars. Since this is a non-North American meeting, the Program Committee will permit scholars who presented at the 2011 Cleveland meeting to give papers in Copenhagen. It is SHOT’s policy to relax its rule about not presenting papers at two consecutive meetings in order to attract as many people as possible to meetings outside of North America.

For the 2012 meeting the Program Committee continues to welcome unconventional sessions; that is, session formats that diverge 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. We also welcome poster proposals for presentation in poster sessions.



While paper and session proposals on all topics are welcome, the Program Committee is especially interested in proposals that engage the following themes:

I. Technology, sustainability, and environment.
SHOT has a long history of analyzing how technologies have interfered with or shaped nature and our social or cultural environments. The search for sustainable technology solutions has recently become a main preoccupation of engineers, designers and tinkerers all over the world and is high on the political agenda too. Possible themes to address are:
– Questions of scale: onsite, small- and community-scale technology as challenges for large-scale and centralized models of technology design, both in rural and new urban environments
– Smart design: ecodesign and sustainable industrial or product design as evidence of smart solutions for an accountable handling of technology
– Natural infrastructures: infrastructures as “natural” environments and nature (air, water, soil) as co-producers of large-scale infrastructures
– More with less: new technologies and the search for efficiency in energy consumption or technologies of power saving in housing, transport, and communication

II. Technology, East-West relations, and the Cold War.
During the Cold War, Europe was one of the central laboratories for experimentation with ideological and political regimes, which deeply affected traditional paths of knowledge and technology transfer in Europe. While the history of the Cold War has mainly been told as a history of discontinuity and fragmentation, we would especially welcome papers and sections dealing with examples of successful co-operation or “hidden continuities” in inter-European technology transfer during the 20th century. General areas to be explored are:
– Changing times: continuities and discontinuities in the transfers of knowledge and technology between Eastern and Western Europe and the rest of the world from the mid-19th century to the present
– Negotiating identities: spaces and places of co-operation or confrontation before, during, and after the Cold War
– Blurred boundaries: spill-over effects and holes in the Iron Curtain
– Trading zone: Europe as symbolic battlefield and diplomatic playground for world hegemony
– Chilling effects: Technologies at war & wartime technology
– Secret stories: technologies of intelligence and espionage and their staging in popular media (comics, films, magazines, television & radio)
– Competing Modernities: the uses of technology in a variety of economic development and modernization schemes

Evaluation Criteria, General Ground Rules, and Specific Requirements for Individual Paper Proposals and Session Proposals
The Program Committee’s highest priority in evaluating paper and panel proposals is scholarly excellence.

General ground rules: 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). However, scholars may both propose a paper and serve as a commentator or session chair.

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 (300 words max)
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 note that in general we discourage panels with more than three papers.
**Please indicate if a proposal is sponsored by one of SHOT’s special interest groups.


Further Information:
For more information about the Society for the History of Technology and our annual meeting, please see the SHOT webpage:
For general questions about the Society for the History of Technology, please contact SHOT Secretary Bernie Carlson at

Envirotech Travel Grant for ASEH 2012

Envirotech is pleased to announce a $250 travel grant for the upcoming American Society for Environmental History conference in Madison. Eligibility for the award is limited to those presenting a paper addressing the interrelated histories of environment and technology at the 2012 ASEH meeting in Madison, WI (March 28-31, 2012). Those who have completed their Ph.D. more than three years prior and are fully employed are not eligible. Independent scholars are eligible regardless of the date the Ph.D. was received. This application must be received by January 15, 2012. The winner will receive a check for $250 at the Envirotech breakfast meeting during the conference.

Applicants should complete this form, and email it along with their C.V. to Any questions should be addressed to Chair, Envirotech Travel Grant, and submitted by email to

Winner of the Joel A. Tarr Envirotech Article Prize for 2011

We are pleased to announce that Christopher F. Jones is the winner of the 2011 Joel A. Tarr Envirotech Prize for his article, “A Landscape of Energy Abundance: Anthracite Coal Canals and the Roots of American Fossil Fuel Dependence, 1820-1860,” Environmental History 15 (July 2010): 449-484. In his article, Jones uses the concept of an “energy landscape” as an effective new tool for visualizing the causes and consequences of society’s energy choices, as well as the contingencies that inform the process of energy change. Drawing upon but also extending the seminal work of William Cronon and James Scott, Jones demonstrates that entrepreneurs, boosters, and other modernists built a new transportation-based energy regime in advance of market demand. By transforming the built environment and aggressively encouraging consumers to adopt anthracite coal, Jones argues, this regime helped to foster the subsequent and ultimately unsustainable American shift to fossil fuel sources that has continued to this day. Prize committee members applauded Jones for his skillful fusing of a detailed empirical analysis of the American Mid-Atlantic region with the broader theoretical concept of “energy landscapes.” Jones also breaks new ground in incorporating the spatial issue of transportation networks into our understanding of energy systems. By offering a fresh approach to dealing with the complex interactions between cultural, economic, technological, and ecological factors, Jones makes an important contribution to the field of envirotechnical history and theory.

On the behalf of the prize committee:

Timothy LeCain
Erik Rau
Heike Weber

New book: Making A Green Machine

Finn Arne Jørgensen‘s book Making A Green Machine: The Infrastructure of Beverage Container Recycling is out!

Consider an empty bottle or can, one of the hundreds of billions of beverage containers that are discarded worldwide every year. Empty containers have been at the center of intense political controversies, technological innovation processes, and the modern environmental movement. Making a Green Machine examines the development of the Scandinavian beverage container deposit-refund system, which has the highest return rates in the world, from 1970 to present. Finn Arne Jørgensen investigates the challenges the system faced when exported internationally and explores the critical role of technological infrastructures and consumer convenience in modern recycling. His comparative framework charts the complex network of business and political actors involved in the development of the reverse vending machine (RVM) and bottle deposit legislation to better understand the different historical trajectories empty beverage containers have taken across markets, including the U.S. The RVM has served as more than a hole in the wall–it began simply as a tool for grocers who had to handle empty refillable glass bottles, but has become a green machine to redeem the empty beverage container, helping both business and consumers participate in environmental actions.

Visit the book’s page at Rutgers University Press:

Research Fellowships in Innovation for Sustainability

The Center for Contemporary History and Policy at the Chemical Heritage Foundation invites applications for one-year research fellowships at the post-doctoral or advanced graduate student level to create and cultivate projects in the area of innovation for sustainability. We anticipate hiring 2-3 individuals for these positions.

Drawing on core competencies and programmatic areas in environmental history and policy and studies of materials innovation, CCHP is developing projects that sit at the intersection of sustainability and innovation, both broadly construed. We especially encourage project proposals that cut across institutional sectors and research objects. The following are examples of topics that might be explored:

  • Materials Innovation
  • Energy (policy, regulation)
  • Role of government regulation
  • Green manufacturing
  • Life-Cycle assessments
  • Alternatives development
  • Green Chemistry

Projects conducted by fellows in residence will contribute to the programmatic and outreach initiatives of CCHP. These materials are intended to reach audiences outside of academe, and in the past have included: white papers, online exhibits, public symposia, and contributions to our oral history collection.

Fellows will work with CCHP staff while in residence to determine the most appropriate project outcomes as part of our efforts to mentor and train junior scholars to reach new and diverse audiences.

In addition to research related to the proposed project, approximately a third of the fellow’s time will be in support of ongoing activities and projects in CCHP.

Salary for post-doctoral researchers will be $45,000; graduate students will receive $25,000.

Applications from women, minorities, and those with disabilities are particularly welcomed and encouraged.

Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the positions are filled. For full consideration, applications should be received by June 1, 2011. Application materials should include a cover letter, statement of research interests and proposed project (not to exceed two pages), curriculum vitae, and the names, addresses and phone numbers of three references. Materials can be sent as e-mail attachments (pdf-preferred) to Jody Roberts, Associate Director, Center for Contemporary History and Policy at:


New book: The American Urban Reader: History and Theory

Steven Corey (Urban Studies, Worcester State University) has published The American Urban Reader: History and Theory (Routledge, 2011) with his department colleague, Lisa Krissoff Boehm, that includes an entire section dedicated to the urban environment. In this anthology Corey and Boehm have included Joel Tarr’s “The Metabolism of the Industrial City: The Case of Pittsburgh,” selections from Martin Melosi and Joseph Pratt’s book, Energy Metropolis: An Environmental History of Houston and the Gulf Coast, and David Naguib Pellow and Lisa Sun-Hee Park’s book The Emergence of Silicon Valley: High-Tech Development and Ecocide, 1950-2001. Among the other works in the volume relating to the environment and technology are selections from Sam Bass Warner, Jr., John T. Cumbler, Clifton Hood, and Hal Rothman.

More information from Routledge:

The American Urban Reader

New book: Evolutionary History

Ed Russell’s new book is out:

Evolutionary History: Uniting History and Biology to Understand Life on Earth
We tend to see history and evolution springing from separate roots, one grounded in the human world and the other in the natural world. Human beings have, however, become probably the most powerful species shaping evolution today, and human-caused evolution in other species has probably been the most important force shaping human history. This book introduces readers to evolutionary history, a new field that unites history and biology to create a fuller understanding of the past than either can produce on its own. Evolutionary history can stimulate surprising new hypotheses for any field of history and evolutionary biology. How many art historians would have guessed that sculpture encouraged the evolution of tuskless elephants? How many biologists would have predicted that human poverty would accelerate animal evolution? How many military historians would have suspected that plant evolution would convert a counter-insurgency strategy into a rebel subsidy? With examples from around the globe, this book will help readers see the broadest patterns of history and the details of their own life in a new light.

More information on the book from Cambridge University Press:


Edmund Russell, Evolutionary History

New book: Confluence – The Nature of Technology and the Remaking of the Rhône

Envirotechie Sara Pritchard’s book on the Rhône is out!

Because of its location, volume, speed, and propensity for severe flooding, the Rhône, France’s most powerful river, has long influenced the economy, politics, and transportation networks of Europe. Humans have tried to control the Rhône for over two thousand years, but large-scale development did not occur until the twentieth century. The Rhône valley has undergone especially dramatic changes since World War II. Hydroelectric plants, nuclear reactors, and industrialized agriculture radically altered the river, as they simultaneously fueled both the physical and symbolic reconstruction of France.

In Confluence, Sara B. Pritchard traces the Rhône’s remaking since 1945. She interweaves this story with an analysis of how state officials, technical elites, and citizens connected the environment and technology to political identities and state-building. In the process, Pritchard illuminates the relationship between nature and nation in France.

Pritchard’s innovative integration of science and technology studies, environmental history, and the political history of modern France makes a powerful case for envirotechnical analysis: an approach that highlights the material and rhetorical links between ecological and technological systems. Her groundbreaking book demonstrates the importance of environmental management and technological development to culture and politics in the twentieth century. As Pritchard shows, reconstructing the Rhône remade France itself.

Visit the book’s page at Harvard University Press:


Call For Proposals: Workshop for the History of the Environment, Agriculture, Technology, and Science (WHEATS) 2011

The Doctoral Program in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology and Society (HASTS) at MIT is pleased to be hosting WHEATS in 2011. Now in its eighth year, the Workshop for the History of Environment, Agriculture, Technology, and Science (WHEATS) brings together graduate students studying topics contained under this heading. The Workshop will take place September 30-October 2, 2011. WHEATS welcomes submissions from any discipline with interests in these fields. Pre-circulated papers of 25-30 pages will be discussed by participants and senior scholars in roundtable format. This arrangement is well-suited for works in progress, and the workshop will have sessions on professional development as well as opportunities to meet and engage with members of the broader HASTS community at MIT.

Funding to defray travel costs will be provided, as will most meals. The option to stay with local students will be available, should participants wish to do so. Potential participants should submit a one-page abstract (200 words) and a short curriculum vitae by April 30, 2011. Applicants should note their year of graduate study or Ph.D. completion date. Accepted papers will be due August 31, 2011.

For further information, contact:

Or visit:

Send submissions to: