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CfP "Technology and Power", 46th Symposium of ICOHTEC, Katowice, Poland, 22-27.7.2019

08-11-2018 11:43

Deadline for submissions: 15.1.2019

Social theorists from Max Weber to Jürgen Habermas have argued that power relations are among the defining characteristics of every society, along with culture and economic relations. The main theme of this conference, Technology and Power, seeks to interrogate the various roles technologies have played in the development of power relations in the past, in different parts of the world. Political power (local, state, and inter-state) is the most obvious of these, but relations of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, class, labour, age, and so on, also include elements of power. Technologies have instrumental, mediating, undermining, reinforcing, and constructive roles in all of these relations. Some technologies have been used by elites, others have served the relatively powerless. Think of weapons as means of state power, but also as instruments of revolution; the printed word as a vehicle of state and church propaganda, but also as a disrupter of all kinds of authority; contraceptive devices and pills that have changed relations between the sexes and in families. Power is usually contested, and technologies often change the chances of those involved in these conflicts.

The recent interest in transnational history has extended the range of these topics and revealed their interconnectedness. Technological change is disrespectful of national borders: technical knowledge and technicians travel, and new technologies of communication and transport transform balances of trade and power on a worldwide scale. We have only begun to explore these global dimensions, and the symposium will offer the opportunity to push this project forward.

A broad but non-exhaustive list of possible topics for paper presentations follows. Proposals and presentations on a wide spectrum of topics related to the general theme are very much encouraged. Proposals outside the main theme will also be considered.

  1. Technology and the State

Engineers and architects in power

  • forms of technocracy across the world and in different times
  • case studies of technocrats
  • large technocratic projects (think of TVA or the post WWII dam building projects in the third world, and similar projects in earlier times)

The State and the economy, from mercantilism to the present

  • energy politics
  • technical education
  • stimulating small companies, from crafts to modern start-ups

State power and military technology

  • military technology and the rise of the modern nation-state
  • technology-driven military revolutions
  • war and technological change
  • military and technological aspects of unconventional warfare
  • military technology in non-military settings
  • military-industrial (-academic) complexes (not only US)

Technical forms of government

  • technologies of surveillance (as in border control, security services, public health)
  • environmental governance
  • managing populations by means of statistics or eugenics

Technology and international relations

  1. Design as politics

Urban planning across the world

  • the design of city life
  • transit infrastructures
  • ecological urbanism

Scripting the everyday

  • attempts to shape life through the design of homes
  • offices and products for everyday use

Design fantasies

  • technological utopias and dystopias

Design and political ideology

  • from totalitarianism to neoliberalism
  • design activism (as in DIY and the ‘maker movement’)
  1. Power and the body

The rise of Big Pharma

Reproductive technology, gender and family relations

Self-monitoring technologies, the ‘quantified self’

Resisting and rejecting modern medical interventions; alternative and non-western health care practices

  1. Maintaining, repairing, and appropriating technologies

Repair and maintenance of large technological systems

Everyday cultures of maintenance and repair in developed and developing nations

Sites of repair: factories, workshops, maker-labs, and homes

Hacking and modifying digital and material things

More infos:


Η Δράση Αναβάθμιση και Ανανέωση του ιστοχώρου της Ελληνικής Εταιρείας Οικονομικής Ιστορίας χρηματοδοτείται από το Κοινωφελές Ίδρυμα Ιωάννη Σ. Λάτση, στο πλαίσιο του Προγράμματος Ενίσχυσης Επιστημονικών Εταιρειών 2016