25 de noviembre de 2015

“Imagination/Meaning: Technological Dreamscapes, Fictions, and Futures”

Abstracts DUE December 15, 2015!!!
Proposal for Open Session – Call for Contributions
Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) Annual Meeting – Singapore, 22-26 June 2016
“Imagination/Meaning: Technological Dreamscapes, Fictions, and Futures”
Organizer: Annie Tomlinson, Cornell University
The technical imagination—a constructed, illusory realm of technological fantasies, hopes, and fears—has long coexisted with technological artifacts and prospects for technological change. Evidence of imaginaries can be found across a be found across time and space in official governmental rhetoric surrounding technology R&D and policy priorities, the business plans for Silicon Valley tech start ups, science fiction portrayals of distant and future worlds, art and visual culture, and individual visions of a future technologies. Imaginaries, visions, projections, and predictions for technology, whether a single artifact or a large system, can precede, shape, and grow out of technological developments. It is partly through these imaginaries of what a technology might be or do that we attribute meaning and embed politics.
While imaginaries have long been only a minor facet of the historiography of technology, recent work suggests technical imaginaries are increasingly recognized as promising territory for understanding the interrelationship of society and technology. Lisa Messeri and Janet Vertesi have suggested understanding technoscientific imaginaries as projectories—actors’ own projections for a technological future based on their current work (2015). Maja Fjaestad, meanwhile, has addressed imagination as vision, arguing that new technologies begin their existence as images, expectations, and visions, which then guide work and programming toward development (2015). Imagination might also find its roots in specific principles, such as pessimism (Richard Tutton, 2011), or ideologies, such as religion (Brett T. Robinson, 2013). In the STS domain, Sheila Jasanoff and Sang Hyun Kim have proposed that sociotechnical imaginaries—“collectively imagined forms of social life and social order reflected in the design and fulfillment of national scientific and technological projects”—influence policy decisions, program organization and funding, and public participation (Jasanoff and Kim, 2009, 2015). How might these sociotechnical imaginaries be used to enrich historical accounts of national technological programs?
This panel will showcase interdisciplinary and nontraditional approaches to studying technological meaning alongside work that critiques or advances existing concepts of technopolitics, sociotechnical orders, and the politics of artifacts. Work engaging with art history, philosophy, psychology, English, and comparative literature as well as history and STS is welcomed.
Questions that may help you develop your abstract for this panel might include:
  • What is the relationship between imagination, technology, and meaning?
  • How does imagination become embedded in the materiality of artifacts? Conversely, how to material artifacts alter technical imaginations?
  • How do fictional and artistic representations of technology differ across time and space?
  • How do imaginaries of the past—perhaps these are best called “nostalgia”—shape futures?
  • What, if any, is imagination’s place in technological research, design, and development?
  • What imaginaries evolved/revolved around specific technologies?
  • How do national imaginaries, or sociotechnical imaginaries, influence national research and development programs?
  • Can imagination be institutionalized, standardized, or otherwise organized?
  • How do technological imaginaries, fictions, or depictions in art influence public understanding of technology?
  • How do engineers, scientists, politicians, or other actors use imagination to shape public policy on technology?
  • What is the role of imagination in technological optimism and pessimism?
  • How does imagination unite or divide in technology discourse?
  • Does the current “maker movement” and institutional emphasis on “entrepreneurship” in academic settings incorporate imagination in novel ways?
  • What methodological benefits or limits are associated with imaginaries as a conceptual framework?
As part of this panel, the organizer will present a paper titled, “Imagining the Neutron Bomb: How America’s “Death Ray” Weapon Got Its Politics, 1959-1963”.
Contact Info: 
Annie Tomlinson, Cornell University
Contact Email: