CfP: Technological Drive from Past to Future? 50 years of ICOHTEC

The International Committee for the History of Technology will hold its 45th symposium and 50th anniversary celebration at the Jean Monnet University in the city of Saint-Étienne, France. The general theme of the symposium is Technological Drive from Past to Future? 50 years of ICOHTEC. Our intention is to inquire into long-term trends in interactions between technology and society, as well as how technologies have influenced utopian and dystopian views of the future. We aim to examine how the role of technology has changed across history and what characters and trends of technological change historians can help to anticipate in the future. The value of memories of the past for the present and future has been frequently discussed; the German theologian Albert Schweitzer claimed that “happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory, whereas Spanish philosopher George Santayana argued that those who do not know history's mistakes are doomed to repeat them.The symposium intends to explore whether there is any possibility of solving the tension between history and future.
Since ICOHTEC will be celebrating its 50th anniversary at this symposium, a special plenary session will reflect on our organization’s stand-out contributions to the field over the last fifty years, as well as looking ahead to explore new topics and approaches. More details on this event will be announced on our website.
As usual, the ICOHTEC Programme Committee welcomes papers on a wide range of topics, especially the changing relations between technology and society in the past and future. Session organisers and contributors of individual papers and posters might also consider aligning their proposals with the following non-exhaustive list of sub-themes:
  1. Expressions of “technological momentum” in history
  2. The role of technology in the development of societies and in globalization
  3. Political authority and the power of technology: shaping technology under the pressures of society
  4. Regionalism and universalism of technology: can technology be constructed as neutral, independent of its contexts?
  5.  Innovations and risks: relationships and interactions between technology and the environment
  6. Technology, culture, and landscape: borders and interfaces of natural and artificia
  7. Playing with technology and playful approaches to technology                                                                                                 
  8. Media, communication and technology: mutual dependencies?
  9. The significance of technological heritage and material culture for the future
  10. The beauty of machines: art, design and culture in industry and technology
  11. Representations of technology and industry in utopias and dystopias, including speculative fiction and popular culture
  12. Heritage in the centennial commemorations of World War I: industry, technology, and the Great War
  13. Digitization and computerization: technological trends and social effects
The symposium will cover all historical periods and areas of the globe. We invite submissions of new, original and unpublished work that offer fresh perspectives on the history of technology as well as exploring novel sources and methodologies.
The Programme Committee prefers submissions of coherent session proposals of three to four papers, although individual papers are welcomed. We also encourage poster presentations, which will be exhibited for the duration of the symposium. Each poster will be assigned a short time slot in a special session, during which the presenter will briefly outline its topic and have the opportunity to engage in discussion with delegates. Posters might be a particularly appropriate medium for doctoral students and museum curators as well as all those who want to draw attention to a more focused topics or work-in-progress. Besides these types of proposals, the Committee also encourages proposals in more unconventional formats, for example roundtables on recent important books or research issues, or panel discussions on films or other media related to the history of technology.
Proposal Guidelines
Papers, sessions and poster proposals must be submitted in English.
INDIVIDUAL PAPER proposals must include (1) a 200 – 300-word abstract, and (2) a one-page biographical sketch. Abstracts should include the author’s name and email address, a short descriptive title of the paper, a concise statement of the thesis, a brief discussion of the sources, and a summary of the major conclusions.
Presentations should be compact analytical summaries of the author’s research. Oral presentations will be of 15-20 minutes duration, depending on the exactly composition of the panel, which is roughly equivalent to 5-7 double-spaced typed pages.
Contributors are encouraged to submit full-length versions of their papers after the symposium for consideration by ICOHTEC’s peer-reviewed journal ICON by 1 December 2018.
SESSION proposals must include (1) a 300 – 400 word abstract of the session with a list of proposed papers and a suggested chairperson; (2) 200 – 300 word abstracts for each paper, and (3) a one-page biographical sketch for each contributor and chairperson. Sessions should consist of three or four speakers, or three speakers and one commentator. It is possible to propose several related sessions, which can take place over more than one day. The Programme Committee reserves the right to relocate papers to different sessions and to add papers to sessions. We also encourage roundtable proposals and other non-traditional session formats.
POSTER proposals must include (1) a 200 – 300-word abstract, and (2) a one-page biographical sketch. Abstracts should include the author’s name and email address, a short descriptive title, a concise statement of the thesis, a brief discussion of the sources, and a summary of the major conclusions.
Note: Membership of ICOHTEC is not required to participate in the symposium but members will pay a reduced registration fee. We especially encourage graduate students and early career scholars to participate in the symposium and submit their proposals. A limited number of travel grants of 350 euro will be available for Ph.D. candidates and young researchers, who are giving papers at the Symposium.
Submission of proposals
All proposals (paper, sessions, and posters) must be submitted electronically through our website The online submission system will remain open until 5 February 2018, which marks the deadline for all categories of contribution. On this website, you will also find all necessary instructions and guidelines on how to prepare and submit a proposal as well as all kind of information related to the event, such as travel grants announcements, calls for panellists to planned sessions, programme of the symposium, suggestions on accommodation and travel arrangements etc.