CfP: Online-Workshop “International Knowledge Transfer within the Brewing Industry of the 19th and 20th Century”, October 1, 2021

Before global brands and multinational firms began to dominate the brewing industry during the second half of the 20th century, the production and consumption of beer was a local and regional phenomenon – at least according to the familiar narrative found in some of the literature. However, this view obscures previous international exchange and transfers when, for instance, German technological advances accelerated the worldwide development of a highly professionalized industry. In turn, U.S.-American breweries have provided innovative marketing impulses since the early 20th century.

These are just two examples emphasizing the importance of the transnational transfer of brewing expertise. Participants of the workshop are asked to provide further examples from multiple countries by examining (local) preconditions and backgrounds of change and adaptations as well as (mutual) influences. The goal of the workshop is to overcome the all too frequently applied national frame of analysis, highlighting translocal and transnational connections in order to complicate our historical understanding of the entanglements of the international beer industry.

We welcome contributions from a range of fields such as economic, entrepreneur, consumption, and cultural history. Overall, contributions may address the following questions as guidelines (though this is certainly not a limited list but will be worked on continuously during the workshop):

1. What were the impulses for international exchange and transfer and at what levels did it occur (personal/individual, company, network, research, organizations, migration, media etc.)?

2. What kind of adaptations to regional/national conditions were necessary? In which directions did the transfer take place (East-West, North-South, West-South etc.) and which role did transfer play for the expansion of breweries into international markets?

3. In how far could transfer be considered as mutually agreed upon or as industrial espionage? Did interdependencies occur?

4.  What kind of opportunities (or limits) did different forms of communication provide (e. g. who profited from the advent of brewing trade journals in the 19th century)?

5. What role did “disruptive factors” play, i. e. intercultural and/or organizational (such as translation problems, opposition, corrections, “lost and found” knowledge) as well as crises (such as war times and along with it, resource scarcity and state regulations)?

6. On which factors hinged a “successful” transfer? How do we evaluate success (e. g. competitive advantages, higher productivity, better quality, more attractive products) and how were long-term innovation processes initiated?

The workshop will be held online, the program will be published in July and the conference language is English.

Please send a short exposé (ca. 500 words) and CV (1 page) by June 30, 2021 to:

Dr. Jana Weiß (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster) & Dr. Nancy Bodden (Ruhr-Universität Bochum).  

We strongly encourage applications by younger scholars. A selected group of contributions will be published in a special issue of the Jahrbuch für Wirtschaftsgeschichte/Economic History Yearbook (the deadline for the manuscript is mid-February 2022).

Contact Info: Dr. Jana Weiß (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster), Dr. Nancy Bodden (Ruhr-Universität Bochum).