2021 Turriano ICOHTEC Prize

The Winners


The Turriano ICOHTEC Prize bears the name of Juanelo Turriano. He was a man born in Milano who spent many years of his life living in the Spanish city of Toledo and working for the emperor Charles I. He was a man of great inventiveness and flexibility, assembling all kinds of machinery and finding ingenious solutions to architectural and mechanical challenges. He was a practitioner and left few traces in writing. He would have been puzzled so as to why a prize for the best book-length work in the history of technology written by early-stage scholar bears the name of a man that, most probably, wrote no book himself. He would have, however, been happy to know this year’s winner, as his book is devoted to people a bit like Juanelo Turriano, inventive and flexible practitioners who make things work better. So, let’s get official. The international committee appointed by ICOHTEC and consisting of five scholars, Klaus Staubermann, Irina Gouzévitch, Jacopo Pessina, TiinaMännisto-Funk and myself, has decided to declare as the winner of the 2021 edition of Juanelo Turriano Prize:

Hyeok Hweon Kang for his dissertation Crafting Knowledge: Artisan, Officer, and the Culture of Making in Chosŏn Korea, 1392–1910 (PhD Thesis, Harvard University, 2020). We consider his dissertation to be an innovative contribution to our knowledge on long-term transformations of artisan culture. Based on artisan culture in Korea, it challenges a claim made for a while by Western historians, that artisan and scholarly cultures converged over time. Drawing on recent contributions especially by Asian scholars, artisan culture is examined in its own right, and interpreted taking to consideration the multiple factors that shape it. It looks at workshops as places of knowledge making and trading, the emerging epistemologies, and the making of the artefacts itself. Kang’s work clearly shows the contribution of people who were of relatively low social standing in the society of that time, to the circulation of knowledge and skills and to technological innovation. The long-term analysis successfully brings to light the continuities and changes leading to the emergence of the new, normalized technical regimes. There is a strong focus on practitioners here and, interestingly, the methods to examine them are equally historical as well as anthropological – a recent and beneficial trend in the history of technology. The jury has considered that this dissertation might have a lasting impact in the study of making, artefacts, technology, and the arts. It also contributes to the debate on circulation and innovation, helping it to move beyond the innovation versus technology in use dichotomy.

Furthermore, we have decided to award two honourable mentions for two outstanding contributions to the history of technology, to Martin Meiske and to Philippe Bruyèrre.

Martin Meiske’s Die Geburt des Geoengineerings (Deutsches Museum, Wallstein 2021, defended as dissertation in 2020) is a rigorous, and, at the same time, well-written and entertaining study. It situates the beginnings of geoengineering between 1850 and 1950 in the context of a world shaped by humans, the Anthropocene,the period during which “humankind started to become one of the most influential factors in the earth’s biogeochemical cycles”. A product of a solid and broad research, it places its narrative in a broader perspective of economy, nature, and power. We have found extremely valuable how the author explores the links to current political movements on climate change; a dialogue between history of technology, on the one hand, and political and social history, on the other, is still less common than expected, and much needed. The book is exceptionally well presented and illustrated, and it also benefits from a detailed bibliography and index.Overall, we appreciate the extreme relevance of the book’s topic; the author has been driven during his research by current problems such as climate change or the inclusive modes of planning. The result is worthy this challenge and, in this sense, it is for sure that Meiske tried “understanding the Present by the Past.”

Philippe Bruyèrre’s book La puissance du vent (PUM, Toulouse, 2020) is a well-written book dealing with an attractive, relevant topic of wind energy, with an original, innovative structure. He has chosen to address the subject though four “technical scenes” that invite us to explore four specific historical periods, in different political and geographical contexts including France, Denmark and Germany. The four images allow the reader to explore the great paradox of the history of technology:  the unity of principles and the diversity of use, in the changing socio-political context. Beyond a rigorous study of the history of a specific technical object, the windmills, the author successfully reflects upon the meaning, the nature and the function of this object and on the way it is perceived in different historical periods. It is not common to find such a successful historical contextualization in books that are, first and foremost, a history of technology. I am saying that as a social historian dabbing into the history of science and technology. The book is a work of a historian capable of complex analysis taking to account technical, scientific, economic, ecological, social, and political issues.  It shows a great intellectual maturity.

The Prize Committee members who participated in the collective decision are:

Irina Gouzévitch
Klaus Staubermann
Tiina Männistö-Funk
Jacopo Pessina
Darina Martykánová (Chairperson)

Hyeok Hweon Kang

Hyeok Hweon Kang is an Assistant Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Washington University in St. Louis, where he works and teaches on early modern Korea and East Asia, with a focus on the history of science and technology, material culture, and global history. Before joining the WashU faculty in 2021, he received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and was a D. Kim Postdoctoral Fellow in the History of Science and Technology Department, Johns Hopkins University.

His first monograph, tentatively titled The Artisanal Heart: Craft and Experimentalism in Early Modern Korea, recasts the history of early modern science from the perspective of artisans and practitioners in Chosŏn Korea (1392–1910). It argues that from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, craftspeople in the military factories of Seoul developed a hands-on, experimental approach to engaging the natural world. Their experimentalism originated from the shopfloor—the artisanal practice of “prototyping.” But as it passed on from the army workshops to poetry associations and literati studios, it spread across society, prompting the rise of new practitioners who emphasized a bodily, experiential approach to knowledge. The book reconstructs for the first time this Korean artisanal science and expands our understanding of experiment and empiricism in the early modern world.

He is also the author of “Crafting Knowledge: Artisan, Officer, and the Culture of Making in Chosŏn Korea, 1392–1910” (Ph.D. Dissertation, Harvard University), for which he received the 2021 Turriano Prize and the 2021 International Convention of Asia Scholars Book Prize.

Call for submissions

The Turriano ICOHTEC Prize is an Early Career Prize for Books on the history of technology, sponsored by the Juanelo Turriano Foundation and consists of 2,500 Euro. The prize-winning book will be presented and discussed at a special session of the next ICOHTEC symposium, that will take place as part of the 26th International Congress for the History of Science and Technology, ICHST online 25 – 31 July 2021 (organized by local team in Prague, Czechia).

ICOHTEC, the International Committee for the History of Technology, is interested in the history of technology, focusing on technological development as well as its relationship to science, society, economy, culture and the environment. The history of technology covers all periods of human history and all populated areas. There is no limitation as to theoretical or methodological approaches.

Eligible for the prize are original book-length works in any of the official ICOHTEC languages (English, French, German, Russian or Spanish) in the history of technology: published or unpublished Ph.D. dissertations or other monographs written by scholars in the early stages of their career. Articles and edited anthologies are not eligible. If the work is a Ph.D. thesis, it should have been accepted by your university in 2019 or 2020; if it is a published work, the year of publication should be 2019 or 2020.

For the ICOHTEC Prize 2021, please send an electronic copy (PDF or Word) of the work you wish to be considered for the prize to each of the four Prize Committee members. (Note: Hard copies are only accepted for published works not available electronically.) Your submission must be emailed no later than 1 February 2021. Please also include an abstract of no more than a half-page in length. If your book is in Spanish or Russian, please also supply a summary in English, French or German of about 4,500 words. In that case, the prize committee will find additional members, who are familiar with the language in which your book is written.

The submission should be accompanied by a CV (indicating also the date of birth) and, if applicable, a list of publications. Applicants are free to add references or reviews of the work submitted.

Any materials sent to the prize committee will not be returned.

Send a complete application by email to each of the following Prize Committee members:


Dr. Darina Martykánová (Prize Committee Chairperson)
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
Departamento de Historia Contemporánea
Facultad de Filosofía y Letras
Campus de Cantoblanco
28049 – Madrid

Dr. Irina Gouzevitch
Centre Maurice Halbwachs
École Normale Supérieure
48, boulevard Jourdan
75014 Paris

Dr. Klaus Staubermann
ICOM Germany
In der Halde 1
14159 Berlin

Dr. Tiina Männistö-Funk
School of History, Culture and Arts Studies
University of Turku

Dr. Jacopo Pessina
Department of Civilisations and Forms of Knowledge
Via Pasquale Paoli, 15
56126 Pisa