44th annual meeting (2017)

Here you will find useful information about our 44th annual symposium, which will be held as a part of the 25th International Congress of the History of Science and Technology in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 23-29 July 2017. The general theme of the Congress is "Science, Technology and Medicine between the Global and the Local. This page will be updated regularly, so you’d better stay tuned.


: : Call for Papers (updated 4 February 2016)

: : Paper submission system (open till 15 March 2016)

: : Official Conference Website

: : Proposal Guidelines

:: Travel Grants (updated 3 March 2017)


Panelists sought:


West - East Transfer of Technology During The Cold War

Chair: TBA
Session organizer: Timo Myllyntaus, University of Turku, Finland
Deadline: 8 March, 2016

The history of transferring knowledge and technology between East and West, socialist and capitalist, big and small states has attracted many researchers. Current historiography proposes new sources and approaches studying various forms of transfer on different levels, emphasizing not only conventional trade flows from West to East, but vice versa as well as other more or less unofficial forms of technology mobility. They include communication between scientists, attending exhibitions and conferences as well as copying patented innovations and industrial espionage among other channels of transfer, which demonstrate the permeability of geo­graphi­cal, state, cultural, political, social, and institutional borders. This permeability was also attested during the Cold War, results of which demonstrate the significance of East and West transfers and as Karen Freeze puts it in her article on Czechoslovak theatre technologies and their move west­ward: “we may conclude that the Iron Curtain was more permeable than previously thought”. Consequently, technology transfer opens a wide and challenging field of research. Apart ex­plaining movement and exchange of technologies, transfers explicate social, political and cultural transformations they entail and serve for. They also help explain communication of different actors on governmental, institutional, company and individual levels.

Following this wide meaning of technology transfers between East and West our session proposal contains empirically based and conceptually solid contributions to the symposium’s subtheme Moving and removing technology: Territorial movements of technology and technological knowledge. Although much good research on the topic has already been done, there are still many grey areas in this large field. Historiography on transfers still requires more case studies, in particular on small Eastern and Central European countries, involving more areas and focuses in order to develop better comprehension of how soft and hard technologies cross borders, how they influence those who were engaged in transfer, what role did the transfer play in social change and other transformations.
Propositions for papers including an abstract of 200 – 300 words and a one-page CV should be sub­mitted by March 8, 2016. The abstract and CV should be sent via e-mail to timmyl@utu.fi
For more information about the Congress of ICOHTEC and ICHST, please, consult the websites http://www.icohtec.org/annual-meeting-2017.html and


History of Tourism: What can the History of Technology contribute?

Chair: TBA
Session organizer: Stefan Poser, Helmut Schmidt University, Hamburg
Deadline: 8 March, 2016

During the second half of the 20th century tourism became a typical leisure activity of members of consumer societies. Meanwhile tourism is one of the most important sectors of the economy and is of global occurrence. Indeed cities are growing especially for tourism. For example, the Spanish Costa del Sol developed from an economically poor region of agriculture and fishing in the 1950s to a mega city of 150 km length today. The city’s environment and the city’s infrastructure is designed especially for tourism. What about the technical requirements and the environmental impacts of such developments? In which way were experiences of travelling shaped by technology and by the built environment?

Papers could deal with:

- The technical development of hotels or apartments for vacation

- The infrastructure of tourist places

- The development of transportation facilities

- Old and new technology as tourist attraction

- Comparison of relatively new special tourist cities and cities which became tourist places due to their history as the Austrian city of Salzburg

- The environmental impact of tourism and its ongoing discussions

- The experiences of touristic travelling and the role of technology

Please contact me, submit an abstract of 250 words, and a one-page CV to poser@hsu-hh.de until 8 March 2016. Stefan Poser, Helmut Schmidt University, Hamburg


Unconventional History: Sixty Years of Science and Technology in Hydraulic Fracturing

Chair: TBA
Session organizer: Francesco Gerali, School of Library and Information Science
The University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, USA.
Deadline: 14 March, 2016

The goal of this session is bringing together practitioners from academia and industry, as well as experts from the civil society to present and discuss the historical development and application of technologies for unconventional gas and oil projects during the past sixty years.
Humankind has used petroleum for centuries, but modern oil society started only in the 1860s; this timing did not come from lack of interest or knowledge about the potential of oil as fuel, rather because man was still not ‘technologically educated’ to start the process of mass production and consumption of oil. Since the beginning of the oil business it was felt necessary to maximize the performance of the fields and, relying on the limited geological evidence available at the time, early technologists conceived methods to extend the life and enhance the productivity of wells using explosives and steam or acid compounds to remove depositions of paraffin. Those were unconventional methods applied to conventional wells.
After almost seventy years of ‘standard drilling’, a new technological trajectory in exploration and production was introduced by late 1920s when horizontal drillings were successfully experimented. The inception of hydraulic fracturing technology gained momentum in the United States when, in the 1940s, the relationship between well performance and treatment pressures was theorized. Following years of field-testing and development of an operational procedure, in 1949 the first patent for hydraulic fracturing treatments was issued. Since then, hydraulic fracturing technology has been continuously improved, developed and utilized in numerous countries. But how and to what extent? Since the 2000s, the number of fractured unconventional deposits has started to significantly affect on the total number of wells cultivated in the world. A literature review of the scientific publications from the past twenty years highlights how hydraulic fracturing is almost entirely discussed from political or environmental perspectives. There is a lack of analytic literature on the history of hydraulic fracturing intended as compendium of technologies achieved along the past several decades.
The study of the history of the oil industry often requires the historian to merge together humanities and science and an understanding of hydraulic fracturing – intended as cumulative process of technology and the creation of a technological system – implying a wealth of knowledge that historians of science, technology and energy do not have so far. The session aims to remove that hindrance and to stimulate new historical research that will increase our understanding of the artifacts, methods and skills that are going to secure for some more decades the energetic     abundance at the base of our last two centuries development; and, giving us the necessary time to perfecting alternative energetic resources.

Session organizer: Francesco Gerali (see below for details)


The Workflow of Oil: Upstream, Midstream, Downstream Technologies in 19th and 20th Century

Chair: TBA
Session organizer: Francesco Gerali, School of Library and Information Science
The University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, USA.
Deadline: 14 March, 2016

The historians and industry professionals invited in this session will discuss the dynamics, people, facts and artifacts that along two centuries forged and improved the three rings of the petroleum production chain: upstream, midstream and downstream. The lectures are framed in a national and transnational contest with global outreach, and developed following multidisciplinary trajectories focused on science, technology, politics, economics, and environment.
Industries do not emerge accidentally; the evolution of oil & gas industry – a multi-faceted, energivorous and expensive technological system – can be compared to a small industrial revolution, whose effects have been felt over a long period of time. The development of a complex production system such as petroleum (crude oil, natural gas, condensates, LNG, and LPG) is not a linear process. It has stages of experimentation, trial and error, disappointments and success that requires large investments and the scholarship of skilled scientists and technologists. Oil in the history of the modern society is often sized just in terms of barrels produced, consumed, or spilled, while historical analyses on subjects like oil exploration, production, refining, and logistics has received limited attention from historians. As consequence, it seems that often oil is almost given for granted ‘in the tank’, with little clue on its production, and past background.
The western society is partly defined by the concept of ‘knowledge society’ in which development is deemed to follow the application of new ideas and paradigms. Considering the several roles that oil plays in daily life, the production of new scholarship on the history of oil technology bears great scientific relevance in academy and industry.
The oil & gas industry may be defined a precise mechanical system composed and assembled by unique and irreplaceable parts, and the studies presented in this panel will show how those parts are organized, coordinated and work together. The ultimate goal of the session is to foster the knowledge on the workflow in oil production; that will lead to a better understanding of the scientific and technological challenges experienced during past two centuries by oil industry to feed the complex energy ecosystem of our society.

The deadline to submit your abstract is 14 March 2016. Abstracts (max 300 words) have to be accompanied by a one-page resume (max 600 words) and sent to francesco.gerali@uwa.edu.au, in copy to fgerali@ou.edu.
Thanks for your attention, I look forward receiving your proposals.
Francesco Gerali

Sessions organizer:
Francesco Gerali, PhD
Research Assistant
School of Library and Information Science
The University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK.

Honorary Research Fellow
School of Humanities, History Discipline
The University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA



Learning by Experience as a Driving Force in Technological Development: Global and Local Perspectives

Chair: TBA
Session organizer: Dr. Lars Bluma, Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum
Deadline: March 8, 2016

One of the most important ways of using the past is in collecting experience that informs future action. We propose that learning by doing is crucial to technical development in industry. For example experienced workers can be the key to innovating in industry. What is important is that the knowledge that they derive from learning from experience be transferred to those members of a company or institution that are responsible for innovation. This session seeks to identify such knowledge and how it moves among actors. Adding “learning by experience” to the existing debate about the role of tacit knowledge for innovation will benefit the history of technology and help to make learning by experience a more accepted type of knowledge among historians.

The proposed research topic will tackle the question of relationship between learning by doing and technical development in major industrial centres all over the world. Our hypothesis is that these were closely linked. What will be particularly interesting (and new) from the global perspective will be an ability to test how assumptions applied previously in exclusively national narratives would work in transnational context. Our experience has shown that a transnational perspective is an important aspect of innovative history that facilitates understanding. Through the comparison of case studies - comparing not only across nations but also crucial industries, we will be able to develop a broader sense of the importance of learning from experience.

Propositions for papers including an abstract of 250 words and a one-page CV should be submitted by 8 February 2016. The abstract and CV should be sent via e-mail to lars.bluma@bergbaumuseum.de.

For more information about the Congress of ICOHTEC and ICHST please consult the websites http://www.icohtec.org/annual-meeting-2017.html and




Page updated: 3 March 2017