CfP for Publication: Objects in Motion. Globalizing Technology (Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, 2013)

Objects in Motion: Globalizing Technology
Artefacts: Studies in the History of Science and Technology, Vol. 8 (Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, 2013)
Deadline for Proposal: December 12, 2011

We invite proposals from scholars in the history of science, technology, and medicine, science and technology studies, material culture, museum and cultural studies for innovative contributions that explore technological artefacts within the context of a history of globalization. The papers will be published in Volume 8 of the Artefacts Series by Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press. Publication is projected for late 2013.
Global movement of people, objects and ideas—the basis of the interconnectedness that makes up globalization—has only been possible because of myriad technologies. Technology has driven globalization and globalization has changed technology. To understand the intricate relationship of both, we need to go back to the artefacts and examine machines, appliances and large systems in the (global) networks through which they have circulated. How have the dynamics of globalization been materialized in objects? Although technological consumer objects such as phones, PCs and frozen foods are frequently named when globalizing effects are described, artefacts often disappear in public and scholarly debates. Yet, by their double nature as both material entity and symbol, they produce, re-produce and react to globalizing effects. While generations of historians of technology have focused on the materiality of objects in the sense that they have analyzed their innovative technical character, their operation modes and ‘improvements’, recent paradigm shifts have resulted in a more integrative approach to technical material culture. Artefacts are increasingly understood as embodying both a material and immaterial side that goes beyond their mere modes of functioning into the social and cultural realm. Concurrent with that is the acknowledgment that technological objects need to be studied in view of increasingly globalized production and consumption cycles. While the globalized world has changed the ways that technological objects have been engineered, built and sold, it similarly has changed how they have been perceived and appropriated as consumer goods and symbols.
Successful contributions will focus on technological objects as the primary objects of inquiry and sources of evidence. We are currently accepting proposals for research papers (approx. 6,000 words), case studies (max. 3,000 words) and exhibition reviews/discussions (max.1,500 words). Due to the tight timeline for this project, please limit your proposals to projects that are already well advanced.
A topic as large as globalization and technology poses challenges for potential contributors wanting to ground their projects in a manageable framework. For this reason we are proposing a number of research themes. Researchers may wish to explore one or several of these.
1. From Technology Transfer to Reciprocity
In contributing to a history of globalization, object-focused transfer studies will have most value where they address questions of dialogue and reciprocity in the transfer process, or where they problematize and historicize the concept of transfer itself.
2. Modernity, Nation-States and Multinational Corporations
Historians of technology need to analyze globalized technological artefacts in their relations to historical meta-narratives and concepts such as modernity and Westernization, imperialism and nationalism, colonialism and postcolonialism.
3. Global and Local
If we follow Madeleine Akrich’s dictum of user scripts inscribed by producers of technology and de-scripted, modified or rejected by users, the relationship between global and local contexts of artefacts become important. What is the relationship between globalization and localization?
4. Globalization as (Non-)Movement of People, Objects and Knowledge
Studying globalization’s effects on technology means to analyze the multidimensional network that is made up of subjects, objects and contexts. Who and what have moved in a globalized world? How have labor markets, international expert cultures, cooperation and knowledge transfer influenced globalization?
5. Globalization and Museums
Finally, the science and technology museum as medium between producers and consumers needs to be considered. How has globalization influenced the museum, its collections, its exhibitions, its research and its administration? How do we exhibit globalization?
Proposals should include a title and abstract (no more than 500 words), as well as the author’s curriculum vitae. Please send all proposals electronically by December 12, 2011 to:
Bryan Dewalt, Canada Science and Technology Museum,
Nina Moellers, Deutsches Museum,