Call for Papers 2024

Reparando / Repair in the History of Technology

Joint annual meeting of the International Committee for the History of Technology (ICOHTEC) and the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT)

9-14 July 2024
Viña del Mar, Chile

This call for papers in PDF

This call for papers in Spanish

The technological environments we inhabit require continual repair and maintenance in order to function. Yet the people on whom such repairs rely—along with their knowledge and labor—too often remain unseen and undervalued, becoming visible only in cases of infrastructural breakdown or spectacular disaster. The routine invisibility of repair facilitates grand proclamations of technological solutionism, distracting from the requirements for living equitably in an increasingly fragmented and fragile world.

How does our understanding of the history of technology change when we center repair and maintenance?  Such a shift involves highlighting users and experiential knowledge. It opens up conceptions of what counts as technological knowledge and who counts as technological actors. Such themes have lurked in our field for some time, mounting in scale and significance over the last decade. Repair is now part of our vocabulary, here to stay. The time has come to make it the thematic core of our annual meeting. The first joint conference between ICOHTEC and SHOT in three decades, to be held bilingually in Viña del Mar, Chile, provides the ideal place for doing so.

Reparando—the gerund of repair in Spanish—holds a special place in the history of Chile, a nation at the intersection of several tectonic plates. Chileans accept seismic activity as part of everyday life, remaining unfazed by mild earthquakes. Of course, the stronger earthquakes are deeply disruptive, destroying cities and communities. In 1960, the deadliest earthquake registered in human history (magnitude 9.5) struck the southern region of Valdivia. Accompanied by a tsunami, the Great Chilean Earthquake destroyed livelihoods and property, and took thousands of lives. This destruction required not just concrete infrastructural repair, but also social and emotional repair for traumatized victims. The Chilean experience highlights the need to approach repair as a practice of human and technological resilience, in which cooperation and compassion are as essential as material rebuilding and fixing.

This is the context in which we invite a critical appraisal of the concept, strategies, and philosophies of repair. How does repair/reparando sustain our built environment and our daily lives? How can we think through brokenness, restoration, and care? What and who counts as “normal,” and how does that affect our infrastructures? How do people excluded from infrastructural benefits use rebuilding, repurposing, adjusting, and reparando as navigational strategies? How do discussions about repair and repurposing reflect social, political, and cultural dynamics? What does reparando look like at different scales, from the individual to the planetary? And how can focusing on these themes open a discussion of what requires repair in our own field of the history of technology – and what methodologies and approaches are needed to enact that repair?

Topics and themes of special interest to the program committee include (but are not limited to):

    • The ethics, aesthetics, and politics of repair
    • Adjusting, tinkering, hacking – tactics for times of scarcity
    • Invisible labor in science and technology
    • Geographies of repair and care, from the local to the planetary
    • The role of technology in environmental and climate (in)justice
    • Ableism, disability, and crip epistemologies in technology studies
    • Indigenous lands, indigenous knowledge
    • Queering the history of technology
    • Technologies of care and healing
    • Local cultures of repair, repurposing, and recycling
    • Intersections of repair, design, and engineering
    • Normies and Others in technological history
    • The technological dimensions and aftermaths of disasters, emergencies, and crises
    • Reckoning with colonial pasts and imagining decolonial futures
    • Repairing the history of technology: methodological and epistemic strategies for the future of the discipline
    • The role of conservation, preservation, and archives in understanding the past and repairing the field

While we especially hope to prompt conversations around such matters, we also welcome proposals on other topics in the history of technology. We warmly welcome proposals from the wide range of fields that study such questions, including STS, Anthropology, American Studies, Black Studies, Communication, Discard Studies, Gender Studies, Cultural Studies, Indigenous Studies, LatinX Studies, Literary Criticism, Media Studies, Philosophy, Political Science, and Sociology. We especially encourage scholarship in African, Asian, and Latin American Studies.

Of special note: the program committee will accept proposals in English and Spanish, as well as for sessions that include both languages. Simultaneous translation will be available for plenaries and at least two session threads each day. As we get closer to the conference time, we will provide more details.

ICOHTEC and SHOT are committed to the ongoing diversification of our field. In addition to valuing intellectual quality, we encourage and will prioritize proposals that reflect diversity in their line-up of speakers, in particular with regard to career level, gender, race, and/or geography.

The submission deadline for open panels is 8 December 2023.

The final deadline for all paper and panel submissions is 10 January 2024. Please consult the conference website for detailed submission guidelines.

ICOHTEC, SHOT, and their joint program committee look forward to a vigorous, enthusiastic, and intellectually stimulating annual meeting in Viña del Mar!

The Program Committee welcomes proposals of several types:
    • Traditional sessions: sessions of 3 or 4 papers, with a chair listed in the session proposal. Deadline: January 10, 2024
    • Unconventional sessions: sessions with formats that diverge in useful ways from traditional sessions. These can include (but are not limited to) round-table sessions, workshops, sessions with pre-circulated papers, poster sessions, or screenings. Poster proposals should describe the content and the visual material to be used in the poster, while screenings’ organisers should secure the copyrights. Individuals whose posters are accepted must be available to talk about them in a lunch/evening slot to be decided by the program committee. Other creative formats can facilitate communication, dialogue, and audience involvement. For instance, last year’s SHOT meeting featured a new “you write, I present” format in which a discussant presents a paper for the author, with authors on-site to respond to comments, take questions from the audience, and join overall discussions. Last year’s meeting also saw sessions in which the authors commented on each other’s papers with no single commentator. The program committee will look favorably on formats that make sessions less hierarchical and reduce the distance between audience and author and between author and commentator. Deadline: January 10, 2024.
    • Open sessions: Individuals interested in finding others to join panel sessions may propose open sessions. Open session descriptions, along with the organizer’s contact information, will appear on the SHOT website (the earlier the proposal is sent to SHOT, the earlier it will be posted to the website.) For individuals who want to join a proposed panel from the open sessions list, please contact the organizer for that panel, not the Program Committee. In order to give the session organizer sufficient time to select proposals and assemble the final panel, the deadline for submitting your paper proposal to the organizer is December 8, 2023. Open session organizers will then assemble full panels and submit them through SHOT’s online system by January 10, 2024.
    • Individual papers: Proposals for individual papers will be considered, but the Program Committee will give preference to fully organized sessions. Those scholars who might ordinarily propose an individual paper are encouraged to propose Open Sessions themselves or to join an Open Session. Deadline: January 10, 2024
Other policies:

ICOHTEC/ SHOT allow the same speaker to present papers at consecutive meetings but turns down papers that are substantially the same as previously accepted ones. Submissions covering the same fundamental topic should explain how the new paper differs from the prior presentation.

Individuals are permitted to take on multiple roles at the meeting, but no individual is to give more than one titled paper listed in the meeting’s formal program (i.e., commentaries, presentations in SIGs, participation in roundtables, and other activities for which no title is listed in the meeting program do not count).

A poster does not count as a paper as understood in the two previous paragraphs.

Most pre-organized panels, if accepted, will remain as proposed. In some cases, depending on slot availability and the quality and coherence of the individual papers, part of a panel may be turned down, merged into another panel, or combined with individual papers to form a new panel.

Authors interested in consideration for SHOT’s Robinson Prize should note their eligibility in their paper proposals.

Program Committee:

Diana J. Montaño (Chair), Magdalena Zdrodowska (Associate Chair), Itty Abraham, Leticia Galluzzi, José Ragas, Verónica Ramírez Errázuriz.