news • newsletter / archival issues / No 44

  about us
annual meeting
search site


New ICOHTEC Newsletter  No 44: November 2008


Dear Colleagues and Friends,

In the last newsletter I mentioned outdated dates of our Budapest meeting; correct is: 28 July - 2 August 2009 (please visit http://www.conferences.hu/ichs09/index.htm or http://www.icohtec.org/meeting.htm); sorry for that!
The deadline of the ICOHTEC Prize 2009 will be passed at the end of this year. If you intend to encourage someone to apply for the prize it would be good to do this within the next days due to the applicant’s duty to give a detailed summary of their thesis or books. Please visit our homepage www.icohtec.org for more information.

Best wishes for the Advent season
Yours Stefan Poser



I. Announcements of Conferences
II. Scholarships and Fellowships
III. Call for Contributions
IV. Recently Published Books
V. Miscellaneous


I. Announcements of Conferences

12 - 13 December 2008
Premières Rencontres d’Histoire de l’environnement en Belgique (Belgique, Luxembourg, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi) 1st Belgian conference on Environmental History Namur, Belgium
(Deadline passed)

The historical department of Facultés Universitaires Nôtre-Dame de la Paix, Namur, Belgium, invites for a conference dedicated to the development of the field of Environmental History in Belgium: Premières Rencontres d’Histoire de l’environnement en Belgique (Belgique, Luxembourg, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi)
For further information please visit:

26 - 30 April 2009
41st Settimana Datini: Economic and biological interactions in pre-industrial Europe from the 13th to the 18th century
The Fondazione Istituto Internationale di Storia Economia "F. Datini", Prato, Italy
(Deadline passed)

Because diseases have been the biggest killers of people, they have also been the decisive shapers of history. Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel: the Fates of Human Societies, New York-London 1997, p. 197.
Pests, parasites, and pathogens exercised a powerful influence upon the course of Europe's pre-industrial development through their effects upon the survival and reproduction of humans, plants, and animals. Over the centuries, micro-organisms in many guises precipitated crises, prolonged recessions, and, in the long run, promoted a biological survival of the fittest. Conversely, their absence or quiescence has underpinned episodes of economic and demographic efflorescence as, for instance, during the 'long' thirteenth century
Always the relationship between disease and economic activity has been more complex than any simple Smithian, Malthusian, Ricardian, or Marxist interpretations of events will admit. For instance, although increased human populations and interaction have typically provided the preconditions for the emergence and spread of devastating crowd diseases, such as the Black Death and smallpox, the diseases themselves were invariably biological in origin and therefore exogenous to the economic system. Whereas some diseases have remained endemic, others have either mutated and grown in virulence over time or abated as those exposed to them have gained immunity. A few, such as plague and the English sweat, burnt themselves out and vanished of their own accord. As Massimo Livi-Bacci has observed, 'the historian has many proofs of the changing interactions between humans and pathogens, of the appearance of new diseases, the transformation of some, the disappearance of others' (A Concise History of World Population, 3rd edition, Oxford, 2001, p. 183).
To counter and control epidemics humans have resorted to evasion, religion, medicine, and science. Agricultural producers have coped with biological uncertainty by diversifying, spreading their risks, storing, saving and constantly changing their stocks of seed and livestock. Such efforts have been more necessary in some periods than others and have never been cost free. Success has always been partial and to this day the containment and conquest of plant, animal and human diseases and protection and promotion of plant, animal, and human reproduction remains contingent upon experience, knowledge, and the investment of substantial economic resources. Progress in understanding and explaining the nature of economic and biological interactions in pre-industrial Europe requires similar investments. Above all, it depends upon the development of explanatory models that better accommodate the essentially two-sided nature of those interactions. It is these interactions that are the central concern of this Settimana.
For more details please visit http://www.istitutodatini.it/
Please contact datini@istitutodatini.it


17-19 June 2009
Buildings: Technologies or Interactions? Exploring the Intersections between Architectural Theory and the Social Sciences
Zentrum für interdisziplinäre Forschung (ZiF) Bielefeld
CFP – Deadline 15 December 2008

The workshop explores the role of buildings as stabilisation of society in theoretical and historical perspective. Many disciplines engaged with buildings implicitly or explicitly understand buildings as a kind of technology that (should) stabilize, form, direct or influence interactions and thus society. Whether the impact of buildings is attributed to the hands or thoughts of designers to enable or hinder people do something or whether these are the concepts of architectural or social theory: Buildings are not only aesthetic objects from different stylistic and regional environments but also objects that link to their users. The workshop attempts to theorize these links and the different traditions that brought fourth those links.
The workshop invites papers that try to relate the different elements to each other. Participants may use the following themes as a basis for their proposals:
a) Relate different theoretical positions: How do different theoretical and disciplinary traditions relate buildings, technologies and interactions? How do they borrow terminologies and theoretical elements from each other and to what effect? How do terms such as “type”, “function”, “use” or “zone” link buildings and interactions in different disciplines? These questions may be the objects of contributions in the history of these disciplines but also contributions that seek to explore new avenues in theorizing the relationship between buildings and interactions.
b) Specifically look at temporal orders of the link between buildings and interactions:
To claim a relationship between buildings and interactions leads to the question of temporal order. Do new building forms create new kinds of interactions or do new kinds of interactions lead to new building forms and types? What happens in cases of incongruence of buildings and interactions such as in the case of conversion of buildings? And how can this be adequately theorised?
c) Historically compare links between buildings and interactions:
Since many of the above quoted theories often observe different intensities of buildings and interactions in different environments, contributions may explore the empirical basis of such observations and their theoretical relevance. How is it possible to measure different levels of technicity of buildings? How do different theoretical traditions, be it implicitly or explicitly, measure it? Why do theories in different times make different claims about the powers of buildings?
d) Compare different building types
Since many theoretical traditions have explored specific building types, the question arises whether those theories apply to all buildings or only to specific building types. Even without an explicit theory, it seems that many approaches assume that different building types have different powers, that churches for example structure interactions differently than prisons or offices. Contributors may thus explore why theoretical traditions focus on specific types and what the theoretical implications of such focuses are (For example Foucault’s focus on disciplinary buildings). Furthermore contributions may try to develop theories that explain different links between buildings and interactions of different building types.
e) Cross cultural studies
The anthropological tradition implies that in different societies buildings perform society in different ways. Contributions might thus explore such differences and attempt theoretical explanations.
A limited budget to help with travel expenses is available and accommodation is covered by the organisers. Please send an abstract of 300-500 words until December 15th 2008 to gug@ethno.uzh.ch
Please contact Michael Guggenheim, Ethnologisches Seminar der Universität Zürich gug@ethno.uzh.ch.


5 – 7 August 2009
The 2009 IEEE Conference on the History of Technical Societies
Philadelphia, USA
CFP – Deadline 13 March 2009

In 2009 the IEEE History Committee and the IEEE History Center will hold the eighth in a series of historical conferences.  The 2009 IEEE Conference on the History of Technical Societies will take place in Philadelphia from Wednesday 5 August through Friday 7 August 2009.  The theme of the conference will be the history of professional technical associations, a theme chosen because 2009 will be the 125th anniversary of the IEEE.  The location is appropriate because the IEEE, then the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE), held its first technical meeting in Philadelphia in October 1884.We will invite papers on the history of the engineering profession, particularly on the role of professional societies in engineering, and emphasis will be on the technical fields served by the IEEE.  The historical papers will be presented in focused sessions over the two-and-a-half days in two tracks, though there would be one or more plenary sessions.  The papers written for the conference will be a valuable contribution to researching the history of engineering organizations, a topic that deserves more attention than it has received.  Presented papers will be eligible for inclusion in a conference proceedings volume to be published by IEEE.  In connection with the conference there will be an IEEE anniversary celebration on Thursday 6 August from 6:00 pm until 11:00 pm, at the Franklin Institute, home to the first AIEEE technical meeting. We expect that at this conference, as at our earlier conferences, we will have a congenial group of engineers, historians, museum curators, and others, dozens of fascinating papers, plenty of time for informal discussion, and some interesting exhibits and excursions.  We also hope to keep local costs low to encourage participation by a wide range of individuals.Technical co-sponsors for the conference include the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering of Drexel University, the Department of the History and Sociology of Science of the University of Pennsylvania, and the IEEE Philadelphia Section.Please submit abstract and 1-page C.V., either electronically or in paper form, to Frederik Nebeker, IEEE History Center, Rutgers University, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick NJ 08901, USA; f.nebeker@ieee.org.  The deadline for paper proposals is 13 March 2009.  Additional information will be posted on the conference website (www.ieee.org/go/historyconference) as it becomes available.  It is anticipated that registration material will be available 15 March 2009.Please contact Frederik Nebeker, IEEE History Center, Rutgers University, f.nebeker@ieee.org


15–19 October 2009
Annual Meeting of the Society for the History of Technology, SHOT
The next annual meeting will take place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; a call for papers be published within the next time.

II. Scholarships and Fellowships

IEEE Life Member Fellowship and Internship 2009-2010
IEEE History Center, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Deadlines 15 February (fellowship) and 1 March 2009 (internship)

Programs of Support from the IEEE History Center
The IEEE History Center offers two programs of support annually for scholars pursuing the history of electrical engineering and computing:  An internship for an advanced undergraduate, graduate student, or recent Ph.D., and a dissertation fellowship for an advanced graduate student or recent Ph.D.  The internship and the dissertation fellowship are both funded by the IEEE Life Members Committee.  The internship requires residence at the IEEE History Center, on the Rutgers University Campus in New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA; there is no residency requirement for the dissertation fellowship. 

IEEE Life Member Fellowship in Electrical History
The IEEE Fellowship in Electrical History supports either one year of full-time graduate work in the history of electrical science and technology at a college or university of recognized standing, or up to one year of post-doctoral research for a scholar in this field who has received his or her Ph.D. within the past three years. This award is supported by the IEEE Life Members Committee.  The stipend is $17,000, with a research budget of up to $3,000. Candidates with undergraduate degrees in engineering, the sciences, or the humanities are eligible for the fellowship. For pre-doctoral applicants, however, the award is conditional upon acceptance of the candidate into an appropriate graduate program in history at a school of recognized standing. In addition, pre-doctoral recipients may not hold or subsequently receive other fellowships, but they may earn up to $5,000 for work that is directly related to their graduate studies. Pre-doctoral fellows must pursue full-time graduate work and evidence of satisfactory academic performance is required. These restrictions do not apply to post-doctoral applicants. The Fellow is selected on the basis of the candidate's potential for pursuing research in, and contributing to, electrical history.  Application forms are available on-line at http://www.ieee.org/web/aboutus/history_center/about/fellowship.html.  The deadline for completed applications is 15 February 2009.  This completed application packet should be sent to the Chairman, IEEE Fellowship in Electrical History Committee, IEEE History Center, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538.  Applicants will be notified of the results by 1 June 2009. The IEEE Fellowship in Electrical Engineering History is administered by the IEEE History Committee and supported by the IEEE Life Members Committee.

IEEE History Center Life Member Internship
Scholars at the beginning of their career studying the history of electrical technology and computing are invited to contact the Center to be considered for a paid Internship at the Center's offices on the Rutgers University campus in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The intern program seeks to provide research experience for graduate students in the history of electrical and computer technologies, while enlisting the help of promising young scholars for the Center's projects. The Intern generally works full-time for two months at the History Center on a Center project that is connected to his or her own area of interest. This time is usually during the summer, but other arrangements will be considered.  Interns are also encouraged to consult with the Center's staff and its associates, and guided to research resources in the area. The internship is designed for those near the beginning or middle of their graduate careers, but advanced undergraduates, advanced graduates, and, on rare occasions, recent Ph.D.s will also be considered.  Special consideration is often given to scholars from outside the United States who might not otherwise have an opportunity to visit historical resources in this country. The stipend paid to the intern is US$3,500, but additional funds may be available to defray travel costs, depending on the intern’s circumstances.  This internship is supported by the IEEE Life Members Committee.

There is no formal application form. To apply, please send a curriculum vitae showing your studies in electrical history along with a cover letter describing the sort of project you would be interested in doing (see contact information below). The deadline for contacting the IEEE History Center is 1 March 2009.

IEEE and Rutgers are AA/EO employers.  Women and minorities are encouraged to apply for all positions. The IEEE History Center is cosponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE) - the world’s largest professional technical society -, and Rutgers - the State University of New Jersey.  The mission of the Center is to preserve, research, and promote the legacy of electrical engineering and computing.  The Center can be contacted at: IEEE History Center, Rutgers University, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ   08901-8538, ieee-history@ieee.org, http://www.ieee.org/web/aboutus/history_center/index.html


III. Call for Contributions

Globalisation, Environmental Change, and Social History
Supplement to the International Review of Social History 2010
Editors: Peter Boomgaard and Marjolein’t Hart
Deadline 1 February 2009

This Supplement to the International Review of Social History aims to bring together the expertise of social and environmental historians by looking in particular at the consequences of processes induced by globalization since the Late Middle Ages. The editors are particularly interested in how transnational agents changed the socioecological space and how that change affected the vulnerability of different social groups. Social processes generally result in unequal exposure to risk by making some people more disaster-prone than others. A fine example can be found in Mike Davis’s Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World (2001), in which he shows how in the late nineteenth century global political and market forces aggravated the sufferings caused by climate. For the early modern period, John Richards has pointed to the far-reaching ecological effects of trading companies, colonialism, and state expansion on the indigenous population in his The Unending Frontier: An Environmental History of the Early Modern World (2003). The extremely strong biological dynamic connected with European expansion had already been pointed out by Alfred W. Crosby, Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900 (1986). Recently, in his Epidemics and Geopolitics in the American Tropics, 1640-1920 (2008) John McNeill showed how the death toll caused by yellow fever could vary enormously in a colonialized setting, exacerbated inter alia by the introduction of sugar plantations – an excellent breeding ground for the virus causing yellow fever. The proposed volume also links up well with recent social theory on inequality and vulnerability, for example Mapping Vulnerability: Disasters, Development and People (2004) edited by Greg Bankoff, Georg Frerks, and Dorothea Hilhorst. Apparently, many disasters that seem purely “natural” are aggravated by a peculiar combination of social processes and human-environmental interactions. The International Review of Social History invites scholars from all over the world to submit abstracts for papers dealing with the connection between environmental and social history, in particular with the changes induced by the long-term process of globalization. The period covered may lie anywhere between the twelfth century (for example the Eurasian exchange induced by the Mongolian expansion) and the mid-twentieth century (for example the deforestation caused by the Vietnamese wars). We seek papers that reflect recent and original research and we stimulate proposals dealing with the long term, that take a comparative perspective, whose subject is drawn from the non-Western world, and/or that combine historical research with a theoretical outlook. The Supplement will include eight to ten individual papers each of around 8,000-10,000 words. An introduction will situate the Supplement within the context of recent developments in the field of social and environmental history.

The deadline for sending proposals, including brief outlines of the articles, is 1 February 2009. Please send your proposal to irsh@iisg.nl, including your affiliation, and email and postal addresses.

Time schedule
1 February 2009: Deadline for proposals, including brief outlines of articles by authors
March 2009: Letters of acceptance (or rejection) of proposals
September 2009: Deadline for first draft of articles
November 2009: Letter from the editors to authors about any necessary revisions
January 2010: Second draft of articles
April 2010: Final version of manuscript to copy editor
December 2010: Publication of Supplement  


IV. Recently Published Books

Wosk, Julie: Alluring Androids, Robot Women, and Electronic Eves. Fort Schuyler Press, 2008.
The book is available now.

Filmmakers, photographers, and artists have long been fascinated by the idea of artificial women who seem alive. Professor Julie Wosk showcases color images of female robots, androids, talking dolls, mannequins, and other artificial women ranging from early automatons to today's Japanese robots that look so real they can easily fool the eye.


Chiu, Imes: The Evolution from Horse to Automobile: A Comparative International Study. Cambria Press, Amherst, NY 2008.

The author examines, how the automobile became an everyday necessity at the turn of the twentieth century. Farmers saw it as a “devil wagon” but later adopted it for use as an all-around device and power source. What makes a social group change its position about a particular artefact? The study examines the conversion of users. To understand the motivating factors in mass adoption, the study focuses on perceptions and practices associated with horses and motorcars in different settings.


V. Miscellaneous

In autumn a conference on Social and Cultural History of Sports and Physical Culture in the Soviet Union took place at Helmut-Schmidt University in Hamburg - organized by Nikolaus Katzer, Sandra Budy and Manfred Zeller. Sports and physical culture were intertwined with central discourses of Russian modernity; thus they were analysed as metaphors of modern life. The papers of Alexandra Köhring (on the project of an ‘International Red Stadium’ in 1920s Moscow) and of Eva Maurer (on 1920s and 1930s Mountaineering as contradiction to the Stalinist drive of urbanism) were dealing with the history of technology. A conference report is published on: