CFP: Connecting Technology's Peripheries

CFP for Panel "Connecting technology's peripheries", Society for the History of Technology conference, Albuquerque, 8-11 October 2015.

Connecting Technology’s Peripheries

Organizer: Joshua Grace, University of South Carolina, USA

To propose a paper for this panel, contact

Borrowing inspiration from John Staudenmaier’s Technology’s Storytellers, this
session will examine the stories about technology that are less commonly told at SHOT or
in the history of technology more broadly. It seeks a group of area studies scholars whose
research represents diverse geographic locations, time periods, and disciplines to explore
the analytic boundaries and openings that challenge or inspire their work. In the mid

2000s, as SHOT and Technology and Culture broadened their regional scopes, William
Storey warned of creating a ‘weak multiculturalism’ in which scholarship from area studies
remained outside the core literature and theories in the history of technology; and
conversely, of area studies scholars not adequately engaging SHOT’s historiography. With
increased publications about technology and science in Asia, Africa, and Latin America over
the last several years, this session will revisit Storey’s statement by addressing three
questions: Where, what or who constitute technology’s peripheries? What are the
periphery’s technologies? And what theoretical and methodological contributions do
stories from the periphery offer SHOT?

This panel is important for at least two reasons. First, in spite of increased
scholarship about the so
called ‘Global South’, sustained discussion or publication across
the geopolitical divides of area studies is much less common. In particular, the Cold War
geography and language of area studies discourages establishing connections and parallels
between regions within the Global South and, perhaps more importantly, keeps divisions
between North/South, developed/undeveloped, and core/periphery unchallenged. Thus,
the use of periphery here draws on Immanuel Wallerstein’s own critique of world
theory that recognizes both peripheries and cores as dynamic and located in all parts of the
world. The panel will connect scholars who work on the edges of SHOT’s historiography
from several regions, including North America and Europe. Second, a discussion about
technology’s peripheries will not only include contested perceptions of technology’s core,
but also help identify the specific points of integration and friction that emerge as
scholarship from around the world continues to grow. Having such conversations is
important for achieving the society’s goal of creating a truly global narrative.

Professor Francesca Bray
Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh
Room 3.18, 18 Buccleuch Place
Edinburgh EH8 9LN, UK
President (2015-16), Society for the History of Technology
Rice: Global Networks and New Histories
Technology, Gender and History in Imperial China: Great Transformations Reconsidered