2021 Maurice Daumas Prize 

The Winners

The Maurice Daumas Award Committee distinguished the papers as interesting, good, original, innovative, refreshing, and solid. From the general perspective, the papers are good enough to be considered, and their contribution to the History of Technology is estimated as high contributing for the discipline. The selection, utilization, and quality of the primary and secondary resources are impressive. The writings are fluent and very enjoyable, adapt to catch the audience’s interest not specialized in the subject discussed in the articles, published in relevant journals. Some articles are well constructed, solidly positioned epistemologically, scientifically stimulating, and heuristically innovative, especially for the 20th century, as the example of the rich vision of the forest as a technical object in the long term. The variety of subjects presented analyses a number of scopes such as diplomatic history (NATO and cold war) and industrial/technical history, with an ecological perspective; history of DNA as biological technology; machinic animal models as epistemic tools both for cognitive psychologists and cybernetic mathematicians; cultural history of hacking in which engineering, computing, and counterculture values could help in accounting for gender imbalances in this field; historical geography/history of geography; British Colonial History discipline; the history of the business; history of technology of education; history of the digital, one of the dynamic fields in the HoT, about the roles of women in West German hacking scene from the 1970s to 90s; the genesis of seaplanes, first civil and then warplanes between 1910 and 1918 in Europe, comparative approach, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Austria-Hungary; history of weather satellites; Montreal’s energy system. The committee panel praised many papers as an impressive corpus of sources, well written, richly argued.

As in the previous year, the Committee has decided to award an honorarium/diploma prize, besides the ICOHTEC Maurice Daumas Article Prize 2021, to the papers in second and third positions.

Thus, the ICOHTEC Maurice Daumas Article Prize 2021 will be awarded to Dominique Berry, a historian, and philosopher of science, technology, and engineering, a research fellow at the University of Birmingham, for his paper “Making DNA and its becoming an experimental commodity” published in 2019 in Environment and History, 25, 219-244.

Dominique Berry’s article paper represents a profound material history of DNA as biological technology. The author employs very rich and diverse materials to support his argument and make the story fruitful and fresh. This is an interesting example of crossing the history of technology, history of chemistry, and history of biology. Both the analysis and the theoretical reflections are very relevant. Berry opens up a history that is closely attached to the academic disciplines of our day. For example, asking about DNA production is highly attractive to the HoT, and Berry very eloquently explains the many strands – including technology – that came together to make DNA synthesis happen. Berry was following the little electric motors and the stitching together of small machine parts and – overall – the constructive part of both the biochemical processes and its technological containers and actuators. Synthesized DNA became a material of interest worthy of scrutiny in its own right while working on synthetic biology with Jane Calvert at the University of Edinburgh. The particular way of carving up the business landscape which DNA synthesis came to populate came from discussion of business models with Mary Morgan while working on her Narrative Science project at the LSE. His historiographical approach developed here is one that Dominic is now looking to apply to implantable medical devices, focusing on his current project at Birmingham with Muireann Quigley. Medical devices draw on a similar range of interdisciplinary sciences organized around an ‘attractor problem.

The 2nd and 3rd Prizes (Honorarium) will be awarded to Stefan Esselborn and Sara Caputo, respectively.

Stefan Esselborn is a historian with a professional interest in the history of knowledge, science and technology studies, and global and transnational history. Stefan Esselborn’s paper “Constructing Crashworthiness – The Experimental Safety Vehicle (ESV) Program and the Global Renegotiation of Automobile Safety in the 1970s”, Technikgeschichte 87 (2020) 1, in the framework of a special issue on “Automation, Safety and Responsibility in the History of (Auto-)Mobility”, 11-42, paper introduces the story of the Experimental Safety Vehicle (ESV) program as a case for the “crashworthiness” movement. The author analyzes the variety of materials, including primary and secondary sources, national and international (or better transnational) contexts. He employs conceptual frames to amplify his arguments – this makes his study original and contributive for several disciplines. The article shed new light on the USA standards’ influence in drive safety in the 1970s global quest for universal rules and procedures in automotive manufacturing. The author dug into the well-documented debate between the US, European and Japanese car builders (partly dictated by not clear political directives), unveiling the almost impossibility of finding and implementing a common way to set and homologate safety standards. This work goes to enrich a field of research already explored but not yet fully discussed.

Sara Caputo works on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century transnational maritime history and British imperial history. She obtained her PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2019, with a thesis on the foreign seamen who served in the British Royal Navy during the 1793-1815 ‘French’ Wars and is currently Lumley Research Fellow at Magdalene College, Cambridge.  Sara Caputo’s paper “Exploration and Mortification: Fragile Infrastructures, Imperial  Narratives,  and  the  Self-Sufficiency  of  British  Naval  “Discovery”  Vessels,  1760-1815′, History  of  Science,  special  issue From  Hansa  to  Lufthansa:  Transportation Technologies and the Mobility of Knowledge (OnlineFirst, 2020), 1-20, is very well-written and engages and connects with two rising fields: technological maintenance and repair and imperial naval history. It does so in an original way focusing on 18th-century British vessels  as  “paradoxical  infrastructures”,  at  once  bearers  of  imperial  might  and  fragile material assemblages which informed technical understandings of navigation, diplomatic alliances,  and  cartographic  decisions.  It’s  a  good,  detailed,  and  accurate  history  of  the British Navy’s material fragility, presenting the case of Matthew Flinders’ ships nicely.

Maria Elvira Callapez
Prize Committee Chair
July 4, 2021

Call for submissions

ICOHTEC, welcomes submissions for the Maurice Daumas Prize for 2021. Eligible for the prize are original articles published in 2019 or 2020.

Please send your submission and a brief (not to exceed one-page) cv to each of the six Prize Committee members no later than 15 January 2021. Electronic submissions are preferred. The winner will be contacted in late April 2021.

The prize will be awarded at our 48th Symposium, 25-31 July 2021, which will be a part of the (Virtual) 26th International Congress of History of Science and Technology (it was originally scheduled to be held in Prague, Czech Republic). The winner will receive a cash prize of Euro 500 as well as a travel grant up to 300 Euro (if needed) to attend the ICOHTEC Symposium, which will feature a special panel organized around the winning article. Alongside the first prize, articles in the second and third-ranking positions will receive an honorarium/diploma award.


Maria Elvira Callapez, PI. Dr., [Prize Committee Chairperson],
CIUHCT, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal
E-mail: mariaelviracallapez@gmail.com

Antoni Roca-Rosell, Dr.
Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya
Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain
E-mail: antoni.roca-rosell@upc.edu

Eike-Christian Heine, Dr.
Technische Universität Braunschweig, Germany
E-mail: eikechristian.heine@googlemail.com

Francesco Gerali
IEEE Pugh Scholar – IEEE History Center, Hoboken, NJ, USA
E-mail: fgerali@ou.edu

Laurent Heyberger, Dr.
Université de technologie de Belfort-Montbéliard (UTBM), France
E-mail: laurent.heyberger@utbm.fr

Liliia Zemnukhova, PhD
Sociological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (SI RAN), St. Petersburg,
Russian Federation
E-mail: l.zemnukhova@gmail.com

Lino Camprubí, Dr.
Universidad de Sevilla, Facultad de Filosofía, Spain
E-mail: lcamprubi@us.es